Passionate About Orlando
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Beauty and the…Breast Pump

Exclusively Pumping

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve survived my first pregnancy. I survived giving birth to my baby girl three weeks before she was due. I’ve survived my first year of parenthood. And I’ve survived being milked by a pump for an entire year. The latter usually shocks people when I tell them. I went into this fuzzy world of rainbow-tinted unicorns where I thought breastfeeding would be easy. Why read about it? Wasn’t knowing that I was committed to it enough? Go to a class? For what? I’ve got a bosom of triple-letter awesomeness. Surely a baby will latch on with ease and I will nurse in a field of daffodils while birds tweet melodic tunes from their nests. Or so I thought.

Not one bit of that happened.

Instead, I was an emotional postpartum mess and had a small weight baby who had a weak jaw and just couldn’t suck properly. But we tried. Oh, we tried. We tried for three grueling months. Just about every attempt ended in an eruption of tears from both baby and me. She just wanted to eat and I just wanted her to eat…on me. And without pain. Every time she cried from frustration, I cried from frustration. I slowly began to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to be a nursing mother. It broke my heart and I mourned the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. I swallowed tears every time I’d watch a friend nurse her baby. I felt bitter every time I’d read a story, post or see anything that mentioned how glorious breastfeeding was. “Whatever.” I’d think. Breastfeeding wasn’t THAT great.

But then something happened.

My milk supply was plentiful. In between trying to breastfeed, I also pumped. For the first 12 weeks of my baby’s life I pumped every 2.5-3 hours. It was exhausting and painful and miserable. But I kept pumping. I not only pumped enough for my baby but I pumped enough milk to donate to a first time mom of an adopted baby. I donated 400 ounces to a mom whose baby had a heart condition. I became a long-time donor to a mom of a foster baby. I donated to close friends. I donated to nine babies total and my daughter still had enough of her momma’s milk.

Medela Breast Pump

As I begin to wean, I can’t help but be grateful for that dreaded breast pump. As crazy as it sounds, maybe I wasn’t meant to breastfeed my first child. Maybe I was meant to donate milk to babies. It’s not a situation that I would have ever picked for myself but I can’t help but feel some kind of pride for what I’ve done. Is breastfeeding important? Absolutely. But are there other ways to provide your baby with breast milk? Definitely.

As I begin to wean, I can’t say I’ll miss the Adventures of Pumping. I won’t miss pumping in airports, hotels, conference rooms, my car and at theme parks. I won’t miss toting the pump around or having to rush home because I forgot the dumb pump. I won’t miss having to wake up early to pump before work or leaving a room full of guests to go pump. I won’t miss the wheezing cow sound that my pump makes. At the same time, I want to hug my pump. I want to thank it for working hard each time I needed it to. I used that pump for more than 365 consecutive days. That pump saw more of my boobs than my husband did. So while I won’t be smashing it with a bat, I will take a picture of that pump and put it in my baby’s book. You know, for memory’s sake…

For more information about exclusively pumping, check out the book Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: A Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for Your Baby by Stephanie Casemore.

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6 Responses to Beauty and the…Breast Pump

  1. Amy Barnickel
    Amy Barnickel January 25, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    That sure is an amazing breastfeeding journey, Brittany. I never got milk with either of my daughters, so I wasn’t able to breastfeed them. It took a long time for me to be OK with that for myself and in the presence of others. Like you, I tried everything, every book, every consultant, every pump, drinking fifty gallons of water a day. But for me, it didn’t work. Many moms want to be the perfect “natural” mother to their babies, but some of us have to improvise in a variety of ways. Mommies of Orlando, know this: If your baby is eating, sleeping, peeing, pooping, and crying, and making you at least a little bit miserable, you are doing it right. Don’t worry about the experts, the (ahem) well-meaning mothers-in-law, and the buttinsky friends who have all the answers. Breast, pump, bottle, powdered or liquid, donated, or otherwise, you and your baby will be OK.

    • Brittany Minor January 26, 2014 at 12:45 am #

      You are so so right, mama. Rule 1: Feed baby.

  2. Meredith January 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    What an amazing story, Brittany! Congrats on a full year of pumping – that is hard work! I nursed both of my kids without problems, but used the pump occasionally, and I know what a hassle it can be. And donating your milk? That is such a beautiful gift! You are inspiring!

    • Brittany Minor February 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

      Doesn’t the pump suck? Haha, literally. But yes, it’s awfuuuuul. But I thank God for modern technology because at least it enabled me to give my sweet girl boob juice for a year. Thanks for the love, mama!

  3. Charu Suri (@Butterflydiary) January 31, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    What a beautiful story! I have to say, breast feeding and pumping were not the most pleasant experiences in my life. I had to drink tons of fennel tea and I hated that stuff. But I loved your journey, and your honesty. You are a beautiful mama with a beautiful baby!

    • Brittany Minor February 3, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

      Thank you, Charu! I have to agree with you. While many moms have these wonderful pleasant stories of nursing and pumping…I don’t. But that’s okay. Motherhood is much more than nursing (or not). Our babies will need us in other ways and that’s what keeps me going when I get sad about not being able to breastfeed.

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