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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pump it Up

I've told so many of you I'm really busy and I don't think a lot of you understand why. After all, I don't have to take care of my kids. I just get to visit them once a day for a little while, hold them and then I'm free to do whatever I want, sleep through the night, not live the life of a new mom.

Wrong my friends. Wrong. I have sleepless nights and busy days and am stuck at home most of the time. Why? Because I'm pumping.

Most men should probably stop reading at this point unless you're a father and comfortable with the idea of breast milk squirting everywhere. Ok, maybe not squirting, but sure as heck dripping everywhere. Nursing pads. Invest in them now moms-to-be. You can thank me later.

So let's start at the beginning of my breast feeding journey and even share some fun facts you probably didn't know.

After my water broke, I was in the hospital and asked by several nurses and lactation consultants if I planned to breast feed. Free food, no bottles to clean...I was sold on the word free. I had planned on breast feeding since...well probably before I was pregnant so it was really not an question for me. I was really concerned I wouldn't be able to breast feed though if they came too early. I doubted the human body's ability to know what was going on if my babies were born early and I had a c section. Do not doubt the body, my friends. It knows. I was assured it wouldn't be a problem as long as I made it a priority and it had nothing to do with how early I was, and everything to do with the placenta detaching. So my body knows. Good.

Soon enough, my babies were born. Too soon, but that's not the point of this post. I was wheeled in, cut open, sewed back up, shoved in a tiny cold room, then eventually wheeled back to my home for the past week in post partum. About 5 minutes after I showed up there, a nurse came in and asked me if I was ready to pump to get breast milk for my babies. Sure, why not. What else am I doing right now? Certainly not spending time with my babies :(

So that began my pumping journey. The first days were hard. Not only was I not getting any milk, I had a doozy of a fever and was not in the mood to sit up in my super uncomfortable bed and latch some little plastic parts onto my boobs. But I managed to pump a few times a day and day 2 my milk arrived. That made me more motivated. It was actually a challenge for me at that point to see if I could get more, like I had any control in the matter.

I learned this later, but the size that my babies were, the hospital wouldn't have given them formula. It was breast milk or an IV. Guess which one is healthier for the babies? Moms who refuse to breast feed (seriously, why not? Did I mention it's free?) are strongly pushed into doing it, at least trying it. The next goal is to get donor milk, and if none of that works, they'll only give them nutrition through an IV. The nurse told me the babies digestive system is way too fragile to handle formula and it can have a lot of adverse affects on their little tummies. I didn't really ever think of that. Why wouldn't you want to give your baby the best nutrition possible?

Ok, I admit, pumping is a pain. Literally. And pumping takes up a lot of time. And pumping isn't quite as portable as babies are. I can't just go to the store and nurse the babies in the car if it's feeding time. I can't go camping because there's no electrical outlet for my pump...not that I would do that right now anyway, but I'm trying to make a point here. Pumping is hard. I'm pretty much glued to the pump. My schedule revolves around the pump. If I pump at 8am, and get a shower really quick, I can still make the drive up to the hospital and pump by 10:30ish. That's my mind right now. That's how I think about things. Then in the hospital, with 2 babies and only 1 parent right now, I plan which baby I'm gong to hold and for how long so I can pump in between. Yea. It's that bad.

Overall, I pump 8-10 times a day, every 2-3 hours. If I go too long, things get messy, I get sore, it's just not a good situation. So I am pretty rigid about my schedule. And I can't just sleep all night and start over again in the morning. This is a 24/7 deal.

And what does pumping entail? The nice people at the hospital got me a hospital grade pump to rent.

 It's nice, although not as nice as the one they have at the hospital that I get to use when I'm visiting the babies...score. You have to put all the pieces together, plug everything in, then for 15-20 minutes, you sit. You can't do much else while you're doing this unless you're a champ like me. I've mastered movie watching, texting, talking on the phone, eating Reese's pieces and my most recent skill...blogging. But seriously, the parts don't stay attached to the nipple without a little help so you're movement is pretty limited for those 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, you have to store the milk, clean the parts, sanitize the parts, and lay everything out to air dry for the next hour or so until...oh yes, you just do it all over again. So if you're pumping every 2-3 hours, it takes a good 45 minutes to pump, clean, get ready for the next round, it doesn't leave you with much time in between to do anything else.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I pump. It makes me feel like I'm helping my babies. It makes me feel like I'm a part of them growing. It makes me feel like I'm doing everything I can to give them the best fighting chance at life. It makes me feel like I'm a mom even when I can't be with my babies. It makes me happy. But it certainly limits my "free time" when I'm not with the babies.

For these 2, though, I'd move mountains if I had to.

So if I don't answer your messages, I'm probably watching a movie instead of skillfully maneuvering the computer so I can type and hold onto the nipple shields at the same time. But it doesn't mean I'm not appreciative of everyone's thoughts and prayers. I'm busy, I'm not sleeping any more than a new mom, and I'm constantly worrying about my little ones.

For my next trick, I will master breast feeding 2 premature infants at once. Stay tuned in the weeks to come, it's sure to get messy.

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