Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Exclusively pumping: part 2 It's Getting Easier

I had to celebrate because I made it through three months of pain, pure exhaustion and emotional struggles. I had a goal now, a plan. I was going to continue to pump until I had enough milk to get Clare to a year. 

The next 6 months (months 4-9) all kind of blended together. It probably felt that way because pumping started to become routine, easier, and a part of me. Pumping becomes a part of your life whether or not you want it to. I personally started to enjoy it. I loved looking down at the bottles and seeing how full they were!!

This was one of my morning pumps after I had dropped my middle of the night pump. This was 17oz. The most I ever pumped in one morning was 23oz. 

I bought a second pump; a Medela Freestyle which is hands free and cordless. It is battery operated and is pretty small. I bought it so I would have two pumps. One to keep at home and one to keep at work. 

It was about 2 weeks before I was supposed to go back to work. I was so nervous! Not only to be leaving Clare 5 days a week for 10 hours a day, but where and how was I going to pump?? 

So I emailed the two teachers I was currently working with and asked them how I should go about this. One of them emailed me back and told me there weren't really any rooms designated to pump. After all it was a catholic school built probably 75-100 years ago. Nuns didn't have babies and there was no need for a lactation room. I would be allowed to pump in the furnace room or a bathroom. Ek! I was NOT ok with that. 

I started seriously freaking out!  I would have to be at school no later than 7:30... I would have had to get up at at 4:30-5am. (Which looking back on it now I probably totally over reacted and I could have made it happen but I was a new mom. Scared to death to lose my supply.) I forgot to mention we were in the process of buying our first house too... Can you say ball of stress??? 

So I called my principal to ask him if I could meet with him. I asked him if there was any possibly way I could get to school by 8am. I didn't see if being possible to get there any earlier. He told me it would be no problem. I also asked him about a room where I could possibly pump. I sadly got the same answer from him, a bathroom. But I could ask the resource room teacher if I could use her office. I was ok with that! He was probably the best boss I ever had. He took such good care of all of his teachers and always tried to accommodate us. 

So it sounds like everything is falling into place and I'm good, right?? Wrong! I didn't see how it was going to work... We were closing on the house the week I was supposed to go back to work! We had so much crap in our house to pack, every single day I looked at the shit and thought to myself.. WHERE DO I START?! I was so overwhelmed I didn't know what to do! 

I talked with my husband and we decided that it was probably best if I took the rest of the school year off and look for a job in the summer. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. I loved working at that school. I loved the people I worked with, the parents were so invlolved with their children, and ask I mentioned before I knew I'd never find a boss like him again. I was devastated. It took me an hour to put an email together to let him know I would not be coming back.

I had to think about what would be best for Clare and I and that was to stay home. If I could do it all over again, however, I probably would have sucked it up and made it work. 

So anyway!! It's the middle of April and we finally had everything packed. Thankfully my mother, mother in law, husbands aunt Cheryl, and husband helped so much in the packing process. It would have been a lot easier without a 4 month old. 

During the packing process I always felt so bad that I would have to stop to pump. I always felt like I was a burden, holding up something because I had to pump. I wish I didn't feel that way, I was doing something for Clare. I was making sure she would be fed for as long as possible on Mama's milk! But for some reason I always hesitated to bring it up, to step away. 

The night before we were supposed to do the actual moving part I started feeling cold, weak, achy and had a good amount of pain in my breast... I felt like I was getting mastitis again. I was freaking out, this could not happen... I was too busy to get sick. I called the doctor for a perscription but was hesitant to take it as I was feeling better the next day and I was worried my about my supply again. But my husband told me, better to be safe than sorry so I sucked it up and took the script for a week. My supply didn't dip too low so I was happy about that. 

After we got all settled in and got everything somewhat organized I tended to my freezer stash. We were already in need of another deep freezer as the one I had was nearly full. The first one I found on one of my mommy swap sites for $65. So it was hard for me to purchase a new one for $200. We finally caved and bought one because our refrigerator had been taken over by breastmilk. 

Coincidently Clare's six months pediatrician appointment was a couple days later. I talked to her about frozen breastmilk and how long it was good for. She told me that it was good for up to a year, but the anti-bodies died after six months. Right then and there I decided Clare would not be getting any frozen milk that was more than six months old. The next question was what was I going to do with the 2,500oz of breast milk I had in my basement? 

I had been told by some moms in my pumping group that you could donate breastmilk. I had never heard of this before. But I decided to look into it. I went to my mommyhood group and it just happened that someone had posted if anyone had breastmilk to donate! I couldn't believe it, I took it as a sign from God that this mommy was meant to have my breast milk. I commented on the post saying I had quite a bit of breastmilk then I could donate. The mom looking for breastmilk donations was adopting twins and they would be born in a couple of weeks. The problem was she lived in Indiana which is a good 2 1/2 hours from where I live. But A mom came to the rescue and stated she would be coming home to Michigan for Fourth of July weekend and she would pick up the milk from anyone willing to donate. 

So this is the first donation I made of milk it ended up being 1,071oz. I couldn't believe I was donating this much milk. When I was packing up the coolers I was having a tiny bit of anxiety. It was like I was giving away a part of me. But I kept thinking about those twins and how they would be getting milk from me, I was helping a mom give her babies something she could not give. Pictured below is the the milk I donated.

Over the next 6 months I donated over 7,000oz of breastmilk to 13 different mothers/babies. I always made sure I had 2,000oz in my deep freezer just incase my supply took a hit and I stopped making enough to give Clare only fresh milk. It's a feeling that is impossible to describe. Being able to help so many babies with something I made. It was like I had found my calling. I get such pleasure helping others and what better way than by donating the milk I spent so much time producing. 

Months 3-9 were rough, but pleasurable. I became more comfortable in my skin. My pump became an accessory instead of a ball and chain. I was able to visit my sister in Chicago several times. I pumped in the car, at other's houses and even started feeling comfortable pumping in public. It was always in the comfort of a home and only around family members, but that was a big step! 

I was able to successfully drop a pump every two months and maintain my supply mostly. My average daily total was between 40-45oz a day. By the end of the 9th month I was only pumping 4 pumps per day and let me tell you I felt like I was on cloud 9! 

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