Monday, January 7, 2013

My Nursing Journey with W

This weekend I was working on putting things away and organizing our freezer when I found a few of my last frozen bags of pumped milk that needed moved to the deep freezer with the rest of my milk.  While I am super happy to be done pumping I am bummed that at some point very soon W will be done nursing.  I seriously LOVE nursing.  It has been such an awesome bonding experience and to know that I am doing everything in my power to give my little man the best possible start makes me feel awesome.

Nursing wasn't always easy for me.  When I brought W home from the hospital he at lost a pound and a half and for the first month I had the most difficult time ensuring he kept weight on him.  I felt like I was nursing constantly, but he wasn't gaining.  Not only was he not gaining weight, but my nipples were so sore that my toes curled every time he went to nurse.  Thankfully, my hospital has an awesome nursing support group that meets once a week that was a huge help along with a mommy board I belong to.

On top of him not gaining weight I was terrified of what would happen when I went back to work.  I had a few ounces frozen in the freezer, but what if that wasn't enough? And how much exactly would he eat in a day?  I cannot tell you how much milk I gave my nanny the first day back to work, but it was enough (thank goodness).

When I went to pump at work I was fortunate that I do have a private office and could pump at my desk while I worked.  The problem for me came when I went to pump.  I set my pump up (complete with my sports bra with holes in it so I could pump hands-free) and turned it on.  I had a few pictures of W on my desk to look at as well as one of his blankets I could smell to help with the let-down.  I figured I would sit there for 15 minutes and I would be done.  WRONG.  It took me nearly an hour to get 3 ounces!  At that point W was almost 2 months old and eating about 12 ounces a day plus what he nursed when I went to visit him at lunch.  In order to keep up with how much he was eating I was going to need to figure something out quick.  My pumping schedule from January until July while working was as follows:
Pump 2-3AM  = 4oz  - 8oz
Pump 7:20-7:30AM (while nursing on the other side) = 1 - 2 oz
Pump 10-11AM = 3-6oz
Pump 2:30-4PM = 3-5oz
Pump 5:30-6PM = 1-2 oz
Pump 8:30-9:30PM = 1-2oz
At my height (and this only happened a few times) I was pumping close to 27 ounces a day. 
(the numbers above reflect when he was eating between 12 and 27 ounces a day while with his nanny).

I quickly came to the realization that I was married to my pump.

When he started eating more than I could pump I would freak out that I would run out of my freezer stash.  Thankfully that never happened and I still have a sizable stash in my deep freezer that I plan on donating to a milk bank.

I think the thing that drove me nuts was when I was on the road for work.  I took W with me on every overnight business trip I took and thankfully my wonderful mother made those trips with us.  My first one was when he was about 8 or 9 weeks old.  We had to drive 5 1/2 hours to the opposite end of the state.  I learned to pump when I drove.  This would save time, prevent engorgement and give W a fresh snack during the ride.

I always traveled with a big cooler (as well as my nursing cooler that came with my pump) to ensure my milk stayed cold and would only stay at a hotel that had a mini refrigerator.    I brought all my bottle cleaning and sterilizing supplies with me to the hotel and would wash bottles there.  As far as pumping while working on the road I still remember the first time I told my candidate I needed a 'break'.  Thankfully she was a woman and very understanding.

I really wanted to share this story with any other nursing moms out there especially the working ones who may be struggling to continue nursing their babies or may be struggling with returning to work.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!!  Looking back on all the milk sweat and tears the last 13 months I am so glad I continued to nurse.  There are so many memories that I will cherish and look back on and laugh throughout my entire experience. 

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