As I mentioned in my previous breastfeeding and pumping post, I wasn’t able to breastfeed Kaiden. Despite my best efforts, it just didn’t work for us. One of my very first lessons in learning to go with the flow as a new mom I suppose.
When I decided to go the exclusive pumping route, I was so caught up in the logistics of it all that I never stopped to think about the emotional element. And boy are there a lot of emotions.
Despite being a true ‘fed is best’ advocate and believer, when direct breastfeeding didn’t work, I felt like a complete failure. Aside from literally feeding my baby, breastfeeding, in my mind, was going to help us bond. That’s what everyone says, right?
I spent A LOT of time crying about how my body let me down and how I let Kaiden down. Poor Vishnu! He reassured me I wasn’t a failure…over and over again. My sadness over the whole thing was a bit intense. This probably had to do with labor also not going the way I imagined it would. Not to mention hormones!
Once I started pumping more regularly, I went through a whole new range of emotions – excited at my increasing supply to sad/bitter about having to pump while someone else fed K to plain exhausted from pumping around the clock to worried when I couldn’t pump on time. The emotional journey was more than I ever expected to experience.
And let me tell you about crying over spilled milk…literally. I still remember spilling my first (there were a few) bottle of pumped milk. Oh man…the tears! Breast milk is essentially “liquid gold,” and to see mine all over the counter and not in my baby’s belly was crushing.
My exclusive pumping journey lasted a little over six months, and looking back, I’m very proud of myself for keeping up with it all. I was even able to build a sizable freezer stash. My original goal was to pump for four months. I decided to keep going because my work situation allowed for a nice transition. The mother’s room is incredible…very thankful for a workplace that provides moms with a comfortable and private place to pump.
When I made the decision to wean off of pumping while in Atlanta, I didn’t expected yet another set of emotions to emerge. Again, I felt sad and guilty. I was a little surprised by these emotions, since I was truly looking forward to stopping. I quickly realized that these emotions were linked to no longer being K’s sole food source. While I couldn’t physically breastfeed, for six months, I poured my heart and soul into pumping and feeding K my milk. In some ways, with the whole journey coming to an end, it felt like my connection to him was being severed…dramatic much?! The guilt came from knowing I still could’ve pumped some milk for K but choosing not to. To counter these emotions, I repeated “happy mama=happy baby” to myself over and over again.
And then when I pumped for the last time (this past Monday), I felt…relief! I feel good about K’s development and growth over the past six months. Sure, I still wish (and probably always will) I could’ve breastfed even for a little bit, but hey, it is what it is. Maybe with baby #2 (one day!).
While this emotional journey has come to an end, another one is about to start…daycare! More on that to come. 🙂
WISH US LUCK (K starts this Monday)!!!
*I ordered the Medela Pump In Style per the recommendation of my mama friends, and it worked really well for me!