I broke up with my pump last week. The relationship wasn't dysfunctional at the beginning. For the most part, we were pretty good for each other. The problems only appeared a few months ago when I started to resent her. My resentment grew to the point where I felt that she had become a burden and I just didn't want to deal with her anymore.
As a breastfeeding mama, Pump played an important role in my life. Our relationship started the day after I had Wilder. I was laid up in the hospital recovering from an unplanned c-section. One of the nurses brought in a massive industrial and told me that I needed to start pumping my breasts immediately to stimulate the colostrum which is the uber nutrient-rich "starter" milk that newborns get for the first week.
I stared dumbly at the nurse while I looked at the contraption that seemed to have 37 parts and took up a large corner of the room. It just seemed so complicated. And I was so exhausted. Did they really expect me to wake up every couple hours to feed my baby and then wake up even more often to pump?
Enter Kim, our favorite recovery nurse and lactation consultant. The next time she visited, she whispered, "This isn't hospital procedure, but my philosophy is that you need to get some sleep for your own health and well-being. The pump will be there for you when you get home." What a relief!
Pump and I got serious a few weeks after I had Wilder. She was a gift from my mom and she wasn't cheap - the Medela Double Electric Pump-in-Style Advanced. Like most relationships, we had to figure each other out. For each pumping session, she required that I bring thirteen parts. If I forgot one part, the session was in jeopardy. One day I got all ready for work, dropped my sweet baby at "school," hunkered down and felt empowered by my efficiency that day. I think I even said to myself, "I really can do it all! Thank you Pump!"
Then I got ready for my first pumping session at work. I pulled out all eleven parts. Wait! Eleven? Uh-oh, I need thirteen. Which parts did I forget? Maybe I could Macgyver it. Alas, I forgot the Breastshields that create the suction. They're the parts that go directly on the nipples; the parts that somehow pull them into two-inch long appendages (so bizarre!). I tried to stick the Connectors directly on my nipples but that was like putting two rigid plastic hoses on my breasts. Not only did it hurt, it didn't do anything. I had to go home for two little Breastshields, upsetting my perfect plans for the day. It was all Pump's fault of course.
I began to dream of a life where Pump wasn't always nagging me. I needed her to keep my production strong while Wilder was at School two days a week but I wasn't enjoying my time with her. Being with her was a chore. I took her to day-long conferences and pumped in the parking lots. She joined me on travel trips, visiting airport bathrooms (gross!). I pumped every night before bed, just to make sure I continued to stimulate my milk. As I lost the baby weight, my production decreased which made my relationship with Pump even more important.
I'm still breastfeeding. Wilder is now 13 months old. She's walking. She's babbling. She's basically a little girl now. I never thought I'd be breastfeeding a walking baby, virtually a toddler. In fact, I knew nothing about the intimate beauty and joys of breastfeeding. I feel so lucky that I have been able to have this experience with my baby girl. And Pump was an important part of it.
Last week, I said good-bye to Pump. I decided to let nature take its course. I am still breastfeeding, two or three times a day. If my milk continues to flow, we'll keep going for a while. I have no idea what that means.
Before I got pregnant, I probably thought it was strange for women to breastfeed a little kid who could walk and talk. I don't feel that way anymore. I think that every mom and every baby has a different plan, and the best thing you can do is take the path that is right for you.
Pump, we had a great ride. I know you'll be there if I need you, but I have to admit that it feels good to move on. So good-bye Pump. I know you'll find someone else who will appreciate you someday.