What to say about what I did?
I have been trying to formulate this for a while but the words don't quite sum it up. Nothing can quite capture the commitment, the struggle and the stamina but here goes nothing...
When Toby was born I wanted to nurse and so I did. The lactation consultants in the hospital weren't very good but I am a quick study so we got the hang of it. My friend at church is an ob nurse and lactation specialist and she walked me through a lot of the finer points and soothed me through the emotional upheaval it can cause. But then we reached a point where I was just bursting into tears whenever he nursed. He was eating well, he was happy, he was an expert nurser, I loved having him so close to me. But nevertheless I would cry. And not just cry. These were inexplicably sad sobs. We figured this couldn't be good for either of us and so started to put in a few pumping/bottle feeds everyday. When three days of simply pumping and bottle feeding went by Husby asked if I shouldn't just nurse him instead of heating a bottle. I burst into tears. I knew at that point that I was done Nursing. Toby was about three weeks old.
Though I was done nursing I wasn't finished yet. I had my Medela, I had zombie pumped through the night and I knew I could do it. So I pumped and I pumped and I pumped. I figured anything I could give him would be a blessing and when I ran out we'd just fill in with formula, I was 100% formula fed and I turned out just fine. When I realised I was a cow I set myself a six month goal. Six months old and he could switch to full time formula. I was still a cow at six months and had developed quite the routine so I didn't stop, I kept going. I pumped every three hours for twenty minutes, this usually meant seven times a day and was more often when I was still on maternity leave. I did this for eight whole months and a few days.
Toby was nine months old last week and still has only had three formula bottles in his lifetime. Our freezer is still full of little milk pods. A few weeks ago I decided I was done, I do not want to bring my friend Medela with me on our camping trip this July (when for refrigeration sake he will be having formula!) I am now pumping every other day for ten minutes in the morning. Ten minutes in 48 hours instead of 280 minutes in 48 hours.
It is liberating, I have more time at work now, more flexibility in my schedule. I don't miss twenty minutes of Toby time when I get home. I don't have to relieve myself so fervently in the morning and so can get in on some of those snuggly early morning feedings that Husby grudgingly/willingly took on. But I also no longer get a twenty minute break from the world every three hours to sit in my room and read a book or pop a dvd onto the portable. There were times that this was such a blessing, when visiting family for a long time, when faced with a bout of mummy-exhaustion.
Breastfeeding from what I know, is not the norm in England. Half my friends do and half don't. Over here all but one of my friends Breast fed. Is it a cultural thing or do British mothers just not talk about it (or blog about it)? EPing (Exclusively Pumping) is a curious beastie. There is only one book that I know of, one or two websites that I could find, and no support. It wasn't something I was offered as an alternative when I was in fits of tears. It was the boob or the bottle of formula, not a combo boob/bottle deal. A friend of mine was having difficulty nursing but still wants to provide for her daughter. I am happy to be able to offer a little advice and a ton of support for her decision to EP and I hope that others considering it find this blog and contact me.
I am proud of what I have done for my son. Husby is proud of what I have done for my son. And Toby, well he's a chunky monkey!
And what do I do with that extra time you ask, well here he is...