I'd like to introduce you to my breast pump. My breast pump was my worst enemy after my son was born but has now become my best friend. She gets up with me in the middle of the night, travels with me when I need her to, and helps me during the day. She's not the best pump in the world but man does she get the job done.
During the first week of my sons life, I was able to nurse him but then something happened; my milk supply was out of control. The first few days were easy! I mean despite the blisters from us learning how to nurse the correct way. Once we were home I thought to myself, "This is easy peasy, we got this!" I was wrong. That Saturday night, my three day old son was now hungry again so off I go to nurse him but I find that nursing has become harder then what it was only a few hours earlier. My boobs have become so engorged with milk it was very hard for Blake to latch on and stay latched on. Being a first time mom I had no idea what to do so I tried to express a little milk and then latch him again. Fail. Express a little more and try to latch. Fail. Try to latch one more time but without expressing beforehand, he got it! He nursed for about 30-45 minutes and then was asleep however I noticed that I continued to leak even after he just nursed from both sides. So I pumped until the flow was slow from both boobs. I pumped an additional 7 oz more or less from each boob. Later that night (Sunday morning) Blake was hungry once again so I tried to nurse him but found my boobs were once again nearly engorged!! I expressed and then tried to get him to latch but he didn't want to nurse at all despite the fact that he was hungry. So I decided I would give him the milk I expressed earlier from a bottle and he easily took to it!
This saddened me. I thought to myself, "My son hates my boobs. He doesn't want to nurse there has to be something wrong with me." When he was done eating, I burped, changed him, and put him back to bed. This is how the night continued and I found myself getting more and more discouraged. Nothing changed that day. Or the next. Both boobs already had blood blisters on them but I noticed that my left one was continuing to get milk blisters along with the blood blister. It hurt. I looked up how to help this but it seemed like no matter how much lanolin I used or how often I let the girls "air out", it just wasn't going away. I didn't think I needed a new pump, granted I didn't like the pump I had and thought maybe - just maybe - the reason why this was happening was because of the pump. One afternoon, after expressing I had enough so with my hormones raging, I called a lactation consultant for some advice. I told her that no matter how hard I tried to get him to nurse, he just couldn't latch to my boobs! No matter what boob it was, what position he was in, what time it was, or where he just wouldn't latch! So I turned to exclusively pumping to protect my supply and so my son would continue to have breast milk. She praised me for this but referred me to a support group. When I contacted them I found out that I needed WIC in order for them to help me. I then tried to contact my local WIC office, no answer. I called the support group back to let them know that I'd be going to a WIC office on a Saturday. I then tried another lactation consultant, maybe she would help! She told me that I produced too much milk for my son to latch on, it wasn't comfortable for him so exclusively pumping was a good option for me but I could continue to try to express my milk and then feeding him. As if I didn't already know this. She told me to continue using lanolin and airing out, which I planned on. I sat in silence for a little bit just thinking about what to do. My boob hurt. I researched what some women have done to take care of their blood/milk blister problems. I stood in the shower with my hands cupped under my nipple with hot water. I pulled the skin that was coming off, I put lanolin on after every pumping session. A couple of days later, I DID IT. My left boob was no longer in pain!!!! I no longer hated my pump with a passion.
Even though I had a hard time with the blood blisters in the beginning and eventually milk blisters on the one boob, I wanted my son to have breast milk. I dealt with the pain and the frustration because breast milk is the best for him. The fact that we still have a hard time actually nursing still saddens me but this doesn't mean I don't have that special bond with him. When I pump, I enjoy it even if it is a hassle. I don't enjoy feeling like a dairy cow but I enjoy the thought of feeding my son breast milk. I enjoy the feeling a get feeding him my breast milk even though it's through the bottle. I believe I still have that connection with Blake that most mothers get when they nurse. The closeness.
When you're pregnant or just had your first baby, or even your second (or third) and you're trying something new, people will tell you it's not easy at first it gets easier. Believe them. Always keep an open mind especially when it comes to breast feeding! Just because you can't nurse, doesn't mean you can't give your baby breast milk. Many women choose not to pump because it is a hassle. Yeah, it is a hassle at first but it becomes part of your routine. So if you're having a hard time, don't give up! Try every option you can. Just because you can't nurse doesn't mean you won't have that nursing connection with your baby.
You CAN do it.
And that's the story of my pump and I.