Sunday, October 2, 2011

How I worked full time and nursed a baby, and why I'm not sure I'd do it over again

I just assumed I'd breastfeed. It's by far the best thing for the baby if you can pull it off, it's healthier, cheaper, etc.

And then it just so happens we ended up having a baby in the middle of Isaac going to seminary while we're dependent on my job to pay for school and life and health insurance. We ended up working out a deal where I continued working full time and would work from home while Isaac was in classes.

Enter this bulky beauty:

Medela Breast pump
The top-of-the line Medela breast pump I got at a shower enabled me to successfully feed Judah 100% momma's milk for six months, and to go on without supplementing with formula for eight months. And the truth is that I loved nursing Judah. I'm one of those mommas who could wax eloquent about what a beautiful experience it is to snuggle with your milk-drunk baby, knowing that every roll they add is totally from your nourishment. You are protecting their health, you are bonding....It was time to quiet and bond in the midst of the craziness of infancy and change. Judah fed beautifully from the beginning and adjusting to breast feeding really wasn't painful for me.


1. While I loved nursing, I did not so much love pumping. First off the beauty of feeding a child is reduced to a mechanical process, which mostly makes you feel like a cow. It ain't pretty, people. There's nothing sentimental or sexy about it.

2. Secondly, as I mentioned before, pumping at work is a massive pain. There wasn't a place to go and I ended up being shuttled from empty office to empty office with a door-stopper and an easy-install set of blinds to put over the glass door so I could have some privacy. My work tried hard to keep working out an option for me but it's a pain for everyone involved, me included. If I had back-to-back meetings I'd have a hard time getting some time to get away, and keeping up with a schedule (especially at the beginning) is nearly impossible. Then there's the fact that keeping freezer bags of momma's milk in the fridge is awkward.

3. Speaking of those freezer bags, keeping milk ready for a hungry baby was a pain for daddy at home. It meant he had to think ahead and have a constant cycle of milk thawing and warming. It's not as fast as just mixing up some formula with warm water.

4. It's also hard to sync pumping and nursing. If I'd pumped two hours ago and Judah ate four hours ago, I wouldn't be ready to feed him so he'd need a bottle and I'd have to pump again. So - I fed Judah in person even less than we expected.

5. Baby adjusts to the bottle. While we did great at feeding while I was at home, once I started back at work Judah started to adjust to having a bottle the majority of the time. The fast flow was preferable, and over the months he got less and less patient with waiting for my let-down, sometimes resulting in a screaming baby and definitely NOT a beautiful bonding nursing experience.

6. Supply issues. It's harder to keep up your supply when you're not with your baby. It's a weird hormonal thing, and you have to do things like keep photos of your baby around your office. While of course things were great for months,  at about four months my supply started to struggle. I took fenugreek (which makes you smell like maple syrup), ate oatmeal, drank dark beer, and drank lots of water. My supply recovered and my momma friend Katie helped supplement until I was over the slump. However, after that I was always just barely meeting Judah's demand and sometimes not meeting it and relying on the supplement. At 8 months my body just sort of decided it was done, and we bought formula to supplement. Now, two months later, I've got nothing left.

So - given all of those difficulties, it's hard for me to know if it was worth it. I suppose that since I was given a pump (they're expensive!) and got to work all of this for free, it was worth it. After all, Judah was given the health benefits of momma's milk and has only gotten mildly sick once. Sometimes it's just hard for me to remember that when I see how simply the formula is going now (however, $$$!!)

But then again.... by far the best way to kick me back to a weight I haven't been since high school with almost no working out and definitely no dieting? Feed a baby for 8 months.Seriously. I feel so good.


Rach said...

Wow, 8 months and full time work? That's amazing! Great job, Kacie. I hate pumping too and avoid it as much as possible. Ugh. I would agree that breastfeeding is wayyyy easier when you're at home full time. You did a good thing for your son by nursing him for so long, despite the time suck and office awkwardness inherent with pumping. :)

Sarah said...

Good for you for working so hard to give your son the best! I've only pumped once just to see if my baby would take a bottle, and I already know I only want to do it when absolutely necessary (though I just have a single manual pump). There's a lot of negatives to that situation, but the positives are HUGE. I'm sure Judah will benefit greatly.