An Ode to Pumping

Let me start off by saying that my breastfeeding and pumping journey has not always been an easy one! I have struggled with recurring thrush throughout this journey, which has been painful and challenging. If you don’t know what thrush is, a quick google search will clue you in, but it’s a painful infection that is relatively common in breastfeeding moms. I’ve tried all the recommendations – I modified my diet, I take herbal supplements, I use vinegar in my laundry, I sterilize my pump parts daily… it still keeps coming back. There have been days I wanted to just give up altogether, be done with breastfeeding and pumping and pain, but I pressed on for my daughter.

But now that summer is here, one part of my breastfeeding journey has come to an end, and I am bursting with excitement! As a teacher, I have the next three months off to spend with my daughter. This means: No. More. Pumping.

I had started my pumping journey before I even came back to work. My last few weeks of maternity leave, I started pumping in the mornings so that I could build up a freezer stash before going back to work. Then, once I returned to work, I added in two pumping sessions during the work day, taking up both of my prep periods. And because I was so worried about not keeping up with my daughter’s demand, I added a fourth pumping session after I’d put my daughter to bed at night. For a while there, it felt like I was hooked up to my pump almost constantly!

Some time around the 6-month mark I ditched the night time pump session, but throughout the school year, I was pumping 3 times a day on work days, and every morning on the weekends too. It truly felt exhausting. I was up before 5 on weekday mornings to have time to pump, feed my daughter, and get everyone ready for the day before leaving for work. It almost felt like I was working a second job!

Needless to say, the prospect of ditching the pump was exciting! I didn’t realize how time consuming, exhausting, and stressful this journey would be. And honestly now that I’m done pumping, I feel like a large chunk of stress has been lifted! At work, I always had to worry about a prep getting moved or changed. If we had an assembly or special event or field trip, I had to plan accordingly and find someone to cover my kiddos so I could pump. If we had plans on the weekends, I missed out on sleeping in so I could be up early to pump before leaving the house. I wasn’t fully aware of how much stress it had been causing me, but now that I’m done pumping, I feel so relieved!

I will say that while this journey has not always been easy, I’m grateful for it nonetheless. I’m grateful to have been able to nourish my daughter all these months. I’m in awe of my body’s ability to respond to my daughter’s needs and meet her ever-changing demands. I’m thankful for all the money we’ve saved. I’m grateful for the bonding experience that it has been. It has been a path of many obstacles, but it was a memorable and worthwhile trip.

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