The Year of Pumping started just days after having my son. I was still in the hospital and the different staff who came into my room encouraged me to start pumping. My doctor had warned me that this might happen and shared her own conflicting views on the subject. To say I was not happy about it would be an understatement. I initially refused but eventually did give in after feeling the pressure from the professionals. As expected I produced nothing, which set the tone for my relationship with using a pump (insert eye roll).
The struggles continued. I am a full time teacher, and once I went back to work and had to be away from my baby for eight or more hours a day, pumping became a necessity. I never felt empty after pumping, which probably lead to my weekly clogged ducts and two rounds of mastitis. But I do not want to only focus on the negative because I did survive a year of pumping and I want to tell you how I did it.
You have to find something that keeps you going. For some it might be a beautiful picture of their newborn baby while others might be motivated by the idea that they are creating liquid gold. I was motivated by money- or lack thereof. As a teacher, I do not earn a huge salary (I know, surprise surprise). My husband is a MMA fighter which also makes our finances a little tricky, to say the least. Pumping for a whole year enabled my husband and I to NEVER have to buy formula! This saved us over $1,000 during year one as new parents. Honestly, when I found myself low on motivation, I thought of how much I was saving and it kept me going.
Feeding the Motivation
Around month ten of pumping, the motivation of saving money started to wear thin. I needed something new that would continue to motivate me to make those trips to the mother’s room twice a day. I was lucky that I had a couple other teachers that shared the pumping space with me. I decided to revamp our lovely little pumping closet…and by revamp I mean add snacks. I brought us cookies, crackers, fruit snacks, and a case of LaCroix. After my snacks ran out, the other mamas joined in. Knowing I had a yummy snack and a cold LaCroix waiting for me gave me a new jolt of motivation….that lasted about a month.
The Final Countdown
I will be honest with you, the last month of pumping was rough. The only motivation I had at this point was checking off days on my countdown calendar and the knowledge that the end was near. I am fortunate to have a husband who was an active participant in making the year of pumping a success. In those final weeks, I would come home with a sad looking 3 oz. bottle of milk and he would always have words of praise and encouragement readily available. I had a handful of saved ounces still in the freezer that I was able to rely on when the amount pumped got insufficient for daycare. In the end, I had done it! I had made it to the full year and was ready to put the pump away…until the next baby that is.