Week 1-3 I had NO idea what I was doing. I didn't know I was supposed to be pumping every two hours, I didn't know I should be pumping until I emptied, I just had no idea about anything. I had emotions flying everywhere! I knew my husband was going back to work, my hormones were flying and my daughter was jaundice. I was an emotional wreck.
Since we were going back and forth between the hospital and home for four days to get Clare's bilirubin check I wasn't pumping nearly as much as I should have been.
Going into my second week of pumping I was in severe pain, my breast was hot and tender to the touch and I was starting to have flu like symptoms. I called the on call Gyno and they called me in a script for mastitis. They said I could alternate between motrin and Tylenol to help reduce the fever and inflammation. I was spiking fevers as high as 103.1. I had the chills, I couldn't get warm, I was in physical pain all over my entire body and all I wanted to do was sleep! I did my best to get up as often as possible to pump.
Note: when you have a clog or mastitis you should pump more often, you should take hot showers and massage your breasts in there and while you pump, you should also try and get lots of rest. Easy, right??
I was pumping every 2-3 hours, taking my antibiotic and rotating between motrin and Tylenol. I was trying to get as much rest as I could.
Note: during the next 7-14 days my supply took a dip due to antibiotics. If you're ever on an antibiotic for mastitis you will most likely see a dip in your supply.
Every morning I would wake up feeling pretty good but by 11-12 o'clock in the afternoon I would crash. I thankfully had the help from my mom, my husband and my MIL. One day my MIL came over and watched Clare all day and took care of me until my husband got home, then my mom did the next day and my husband stayed home from work one day. I felt so horrible making him stay home from work, but I didn't feel like I could take care of her. If you've ever had the flu that's exactly how you feel with mastitis, but accompanied by a horrible pain in your breast.
I called the doctor 3 days after I started my antibiotic and told them things weren't getting better and I went in for a check up. They gave me a different antibiotic and my OB told me I needed to be careful. My breast was getting extremely red and if it didn't start getting better it could turn into an abscess. I could possibly end up being hospitalized. Worst case scenario it would need to be surgical removed.
Anyway, to make my long story short it took 2 weeks for me to get 100% better and get my supply back up.
I started to get the hang of pumping, but man was it hard to do ANYTHING! I was not comfortable AT ALL with pumping anywhere else, especially not in public. I remember going to visit my mom at the mall and I ended up staying longer than I should have. I was in so much pain. I was engourgedand ended up with a clog. I needed my "set up".
I had two set ups in our house. From 9:30pm-9:30am I would pump in our bedroom in our glider and I used the foot rest to put my pump on. Clare would either be in her bassinet sleeping or in her little chair right at my feet.
From 12pm-7:30pm I would pump on our couch downstairs in the family room. I would place my pump on the arm rest of the couch. While I would pump Clare was most likely sleeping in her rock n play or in her swing once I was comfortable with it!
My snuggily little bear.
by now I had my hands free bra, but was still experiencing pain when I pumped. Someone in my pumping group suggested coconut oil (instead of the lansinoh cream that didn't work at all for me!) So I went to Amazon and ordered a jar because I had no idea where to go buy it.. And it was freezing out. It came in two days... And let me tell you that changed my pumping experience like I could have never imagined! It wasn't painful at all to pump, it was pure bliss! I could actually stand to do it! Now every time a mom tells me or I read that they hate pumping I tell them to get some coconut oil.
If you're reading this, you pump and you don't have coconut oil.. STOP AND GO GET IT ;). You can find it pretty much anywhere now; target, meijer, whole foods, trader joes, and my favorite place COSTCO! They have a 2 pack, each 42.3FL oz for $28. See picture below.
So once I figured out what I was doing I tried to religiously pump every two hours. I never really had a schedule because some times I would have Clare sleeping on me, I would over sleep or I was just too lazy to do it! But I tried to fit 8 pumps a day in.
It was difficult, my family members couldn't quite understand why I was pumping so often. I had a surplus of milk, I was freezing at least 20oz a day. But my original goal was to get to 6 months and hopefully have enough to get Clare to a year. So I was freezing as much milk as possible!
It was time consuming, I was missing out on so much. If we had family or friends over I would have to leave every 2 hours to pump and it would easily take me 30-35 minutes including set up and clean up time. I could hear everyone gooing and gaaing over Clare. "Oh my goodness look how adorable she is! Oh look at that face she just made!" "Wow! That's the first time she's ever done that!" It was heart wrenching! But, I sucked it up and pumped on! I knew I was doing what was best for Clare. I've never done something so selfless in my life. You don't realize how much of yourself you give up having children.
Don't get me started on cleaning bottles and pump parts. I had no routine down so the sink would just fill up with bottles. It was horrible. Either my husband or I would be at the sink for easily 45-60 minutes every single night. Especially once we started using Dr. Brown bottles.
Tip: get more than one set of pumping parts. Also, store in fridge during the day so you only have to clean once a day. Saves tons of time
We had such a hard time finding a bottle that would work for Clarr. For the first month and a half we were just using the bottles and nipples from the hospital. They were the only nipples she could drink from without leaking milk everywhere. The Avent bottles that we registered for didn't work; the nipples were way too wide. They were the natural nipples so they were meant to mimic a breast... Well Clare wouldn't breastfeed so that explained that! I went to my pumping group for help on what bottles they use. Dr. Brown was a favorite, along with Tommie Tippie. A cousin of my husband's and one of our friends both use Tommie Tippie bottles, but they were both also able to breastfeed and I felt the nipples were just as wide as the Avent. So I ended up going to Targeting a purchasing a 3 pack of Dr. Brown bottles. Clare loved them! There was no leaking and that girl could suck down a 4oz bottle in 5 minutes flat!
Watching Clare suck down a bottle and the way she looked after made pumping worth while to me.
There were SO many days that I wanted to throw in the towel and just quit! Any time I wanted to, I would rant about it in my pumping group. The best 6 words that I was told and I took heart were: "Never quit on a bad day!" Those words are burned into my brain for the rest of my life. And they can be applied to many aspects of motherhood!
I'm still struggling emotionally... Trying to get Clare to latch. At one point I had her latching somewhat. It seemed too easy... I would try and breastfeed Clare, successfully (I guess I really had no idea what I was doing) and would go 6 hours between pumping. I couldn't stop pumping, A. Because I was making way more milk than Clare would drink. She was drinking about 24oz a day and I was making close to 50oz a day. Sometimes more, and B. I mentally and emotionally couldn't do it. I had a routine down by now.. I was used to pumping. I had worked so hard to get where I was and I wasn't sure if I could emotionally change. My husband was also used to feeding her, our routine and I was supposed to go back to work at the end of the month!
So to end the worst three months of my pumping journey I had one thing clear: I was giving up on breastfeeding Clare. I was thankful that I could feed her breastmilk. I didn't care how she got it, as long as she got it! By now I was pumping between 6-8 times a day. That's what worked for me. I was making more than enough milk, so if I DID lose a couple oz while dropping a pump it would be ok. (Side note I didn't start dropping oz until I was at about 8-9 months postpartum. I stayed steady at about 48 to 50 ounces a day.)