Today I want to talk about our pumping journey and the lowest points. I can already hear you thinking “oh, how depressing” but I think it’s important for people to speak out about their experiences. If I can help just one or two people, then my journey is one that is worth sharing.
I’m trying to open up more about my exclusive pumping journey. After having a few people reaching out to me and telling me how they love my honest approach to parenting, I want to give you even more of an insight into how tough this journey has actually been. You can read other articles about exclusive pumping across our blog; Our Q&A session, our top essentials for exclusively pumping and the reasons I will never regret exclusively pumping if you want to get insights into different sections of our journey, but this post is going to focus on the hardest parts so far.
I can’t really define a specific time which has been the hardest. For me, the whole 6 months we have been pumping feels like there’s been a mix of highs and lows. There have been times where I have thought “I’m genuinely smashing this and I’m so proud of myself” and two seconds later I’ll be crying somewhere in a corner and feeling down about life. There have also been times when I feel like I have fallen so far into a pit of sadness. When my emotions have been so low to the ground that I’m not sure they are even going to come back up. But then they always have done and I now know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel on those days.
The very beginning
The start of our journey was probably one of the hardest points. I’d just had a new baby. I had a whirlwind toddler running around and I was also dealing with feeling guilty about not being able to nurse Molly directly. Then, I had to throw in trying to somehow fit at least 10 pumping sessions into my schedule. At the very beginning I was not sure how this would be humanly possible. And I don’t think it would have been if I didn’t have Steve by my side, helping me through it.
In those first few days, I wanted to throw in the towel more times than I care to remember. Every time I looked at my pump, sitting there on the side, I was filled with hate. Hate that I had to hook myself up to a machine, like a cow, and sit there for 15 minutes trying to pump this milk from my body; to wind up with a few drops. It was awful.
I have previously spoken in some posts about how when you’re fitting 10, 11, or 12 pumps in per day (which you need to do to increase your supply, I didn’t do this out of choice by the way) it feels like you get into a cycle of sorting the baby, sorting the toddler, pumping.. and back to sorting the baby. There is 0 time for yourself – that’s what it feels like anyway. I’ll be honest, I did start to get really down. I was struggling to keep it together at this point.
Having no time to yourself at all can really take it’s toll on you; but the mixed emotions of knowing that you are doing this to feed your baby really mess with your brain. Had I not have had Steve to help juggle our newborn, crazy toddler and feeding the two of us; I think I would have probably starved.
Going back to work/drop in supply
Now, I went back to work when Molly was only 2 months old. Personal circumstances didn’t allow for me to have the luxury of taking 9 months off like I wanted. In my head, I had always prepared myself for struggling with the pumping schedule of 10 times a day. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for experiencing some kind of drop in my supply but apparently not really.
When I went back to work, it was a struggle. There were some shifts when I was only fitting 5 pumps in, let alone the 10 which I had been at home. At one time, my supply actually dropped by about 10 ounces PER DAY. Which was enough for Molly to have two feeds. I really took this hard. For weeks I beat myself up about this drop, worrying about whether we were going to run out of milk for her. Then I had the constant battle of trying to boost my supply, whilst pumping fewer times day, which was so mentally draining for me.
Actually, I did manage to increase my supply again, but it’s never been back to the highest point which it was before I went back to work, 42 ounces per day. Right now, I pump about 35 ounces a day.
That day at the beach.. and other such occasions
The day that I remember the most from our journey so far happened just two weeks into our journey. It was a day when we went to the beach to enjoy the weather but I was just adjusting to pumping and was not yet confident to pump in the public eye. Being me, I thought it would be a great idea to head back to our car to pump. Well, this was the worst mistake of my life. It was about 35 degree’s, I was in a black car. Crushed in the front passenger seat, trying to juggle 12 pump parts, using the worst travel pump going.
And I was also trying to keep myself covered, so no one saw what I was doing. I was sweating, like actual sweat dripping down my face. There was milk spilling everywhere. I was crying. I actually felt broken. No way could I go on like this, I was a state. This was the lowest I had felt in this entire two weeks, and now I know it’s the lowest I’ve felt in 6 months. Life could not have gotten worse at this point.
There have been many times now, when I have had to pump during days out. And I must say it’s gotten much easier. I invested in a good cover, a better pump and I have gained so much confidence in pumping in public. It’s made things a whole lot easier, but still doesn’t go without it’s mishaps. Pumping whilst on the move is something which I still haven’t figured out. When we’re going on day trips, when Steve drives I will often try and pump in the car to make things easier; to save one stop during the day. But I still haven’t found the knack of this. I still spill milk all over myself, still get flustered at trying to pump with seat belts digging into me, tubes flying everywhere. Maybe I’m just not made to pump on the move. Like physically moving.
I don’t think that it’s very easy to explain, or understand, how tough this journey has been. It’s one which has taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions and one which I am going to remember for the rest of my life. Looking back, I am so glad that I didn’t throw the towel in at any low points; if I’ve learnt one thing it’s not to let a bad day, or bad pump affect the rest of the journey. I’m now sat here at 6 months PP, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.
So there it is, a roundup of the lowest points of our exclusive pumping journey. Are you an exclusive pumper who can share some of your journey with our readers? Feel free to share your experiences below in the comments, or send us an email from our contact page – we love hearing from you!