5.17 AM on a Monday morning Luke was born. The NICU was rushed in to check him out as there was meconium in my water and they had concerns about his lungs and breathing. The moment I laid eyes on him my whole world changed. I only saw a quick blur of blonde hair and a naked butt as they rushed him to the warmer to check him out. He immediately started crying and so did I. While the NICU team checked him out my husband and I were clutching each-others hands bawling trying to tell him from across the room that it was alright. “It’s alright buddy, mommy and daddy are here” I remember saying through tears. When they were finally done checking him out they put him on my chest. He was perfect. He was tiny and blonde and snuggly and grunty.
The first pumped feeding. He’s pretty much made this face at me ever since when I try to get him to eat.
Within the hour we tried latching for the first time. He stayed latched on for a good 20 minutes or more. It seemed fine at first but when he pulled away I started bleeding and realized that I was in a decent amount of pain. Over the course of the rest of the day we tried again and again to latch. We tried different techniques and had multiple lactation consultants come in to help. One of them was able to recognize that he had a tongue tie. The tongue tie was clipped soon after and it still did not give me any relief. By the end of the day I was in so much pain and the latch was so difficult that I started calling Luke “Shark Bites.” The lactation consultant recommended trying to pump as she could see I was so close to giving up on direct breastfeeding. If we could at least give him some colostrum that would be extremely beneficial.
The first picture I took of my boy the day he was born.
So there I was 9 PM on a Monday night holding my tiny perfect newborn attaching myself to a machine. Nothing had ever felt so foreign. I had never been so tired. Labor had started the previous Saturday at about 6 PM and it was a long mostly sleepless weekend full of walking and contractions. But there I sat, holding my new baby pumping. I was advised to pump every time he ate. So that’s what I did. That’s where my pumping journey started. For the next three months I pumped every two hours around the clock.
At his first doctors appointment, I even did my hair! Kinda…
Pumping is a mental struggle. Kind of like what I think running a marathon might be like (since the most I’ve ever ran was a 5K… which was a struggle too. Ha!) Your nipples get bruised and swollen. You have engorgement. So many things can impact your supply and since you can constantly see what you are or aren’t putting out there is a constant level of stress. There were countless times that I worried about not having enough milk to feed my baby. I remember being at my in laws house within the first month he was born and realizing if I wanted to feed him that night it would be dependent on whether or not I could pump enough for another feeding because I had already run out of bottles. We didn’t even have any formula on hand and I really didn’t want to buy any. I was at Dillons soon after and almost bought a can of formula. But I stopped short. I didn’t want to go that route unless I had to. When I got home I googled ways to increase my supply and went at it. I got brewer’s yeast, blessed thistle, almond milk, more oatmeal and I started power pumping. Slowly but surely I was starting to make enough to be a couple of bottles ahead. A full fridge was a huge weight off my shoulders. I felt like I could finally breath again.
I was soooo proud of this output. It was a huge feeding for him at the time.
How was he ever this small??
Never far from the pump. I’m pretty sure the sound it made was white noise for him based on how frequently he heard it.
Eventually I was able to build up my supply enough to where I was able to freeze a few bags a week. Slowly but surely I started building my stash. I was so proud of being able to fill that freezer. By then we had also discovered that Luke was dairy intolerant so regular formula really wasn’t an option anyway. We would have to go with the crazy pricey stuff. Not only did I feel the need to provide for my son I was also driven by the desire to save a boat load of money on pricey formula that could still upset his stomach.
Living that pump life on his first road trip to Nebraska.
Eventually we inherited a deep freeze. By 11 and a half months I had more than enough to make it to his 1 year birthday and plenty more past that to make sure he transitioned to solid foods easily. I slowly weaned from the pump. Our routine then became setting out milk in the fridge to thaw for that days bottles or sippy cups and I gained so much time and freedom back from that machine.
My handsome growing boy
I’ve seen some moms do a pump smash session but I can’t bring myself to do that. I’m forever grateful to that nipple sucking machine for helping me feed my son the best he could have for the first part of his life.
Taking matters into his own hands.
Last Friday, a normal day like any other I took the last bag of milk out of the freezer for him. I remember the day I filled and froze it. I wrote on it “Last Bag <3” Pumping was a labor of love. A sacrifice I made for the little boy who had so completely stolen my heart and changed my world. Having been dairy free that whole time though I was also simultaneously dreaming of pizza and a mint chocolate chip shake from Braum’s.
His last fresh bottle ever.
Friday passed like any other day. He enjoyed his last cup of my milk ever and the next day moved on seamlessly to his favorite almond milk like nothing had changed. But I felt a change. Subtle. Just a slight pivot. My sweet snuggly blonde newborn is no longer a baby. He’s now a little boy running around chasing the cat, stubbornly asking for what he wants, stealing chocolate at every chance, demanding visits to the mixer and blender, helping with the vacuum and curious about the world around him. So much has changed in the last 21 months. But one thing will never change; I love my boy more than anything.
The last bag
Drinking his last cup of mommas milk with a Mr. Incredible sticker stuck to his elbow.. how many of these stickers have I washed without knowing?? 😐
My handsome, sticker and book loving boy looking so grown up (and Claire the basset always close behind awaiting a snack)
Hours pumped 724
Total time spent pumping in days 30
Ounces saved 4,000 +
Months pumped (almost) 11
Milk till 20.5 months
9 months dairy free
Ounces donated over 1k