August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week and we have a special extended line up for you! Our writers will share their triumphs and tears through their personal recollections of making sure their babies are fed, be it through breastfeeding or supplementation. We hope you connect with these experiences by picking up a few tips or gaining the confidence to do what is best for your situation. Enjoy!
It is 11:30 p.m., my kids are peacefully sleeping in their beds. It is day 15 of my #ArchiMom pumping expedition.
The double barrel lactation kitchen is in production.
How tired thou art…
I pump in the evenings before I go to bed, powering through overtiredness, because I know I will wake up in a puddle of wasted milk if I don’t. Furthermore, these are the few precious, uninterrupted minutes I have to talk with my husband before he passes out. Suddenly, the dual suction cups detach and milk runs down my stomach. As my precious liquid gold is absorbed into my pajama bottoms my exhausted, pseudo-cold-runny-nose-self lashed out.
“Whoever designed this breast pump is an idiot.”
Not exactly eloquent or polite but lactation is rough. I have been battling one of ‘those’ month-long parasitic colds. The runny nose, the barnacle throat, the nagging fatigue. All of the symptoms which have rendered me excessively annoyed and crabby. These are the wimpy symptoms that are not strong enough to render you in the fetal position in justification for sick days off from work. I just returned to work, taking sick days after a three-month hiatus is perceived as weak and unmotivated.
Oh, do I need sleep.
The blue light hue of the video baby monitor illuminates the silence within the household. The groan of the miniature pump echoes the invisible sounds of exhaustion. Much of this hemisphere is asleep yet the lactation extraction assembly pumps on.
It would be easier to drift off into sleep. It would be easier to gobble up these few precious moments of peace as the infant dreams. It would be easier to rely on the overpriced manufactured powder.
I am one of the lucky ones who can produce enough, therefore, I must continue to provide for the sake of those who could not.
By the light of the blue video baby monitor, I pump on.
Exhausted and yet I must remain awake to do this one last thing. How will I ever produce enough?
I finish my milk extraction and my head hits the pillow. The 4:30 a.m. wake-up call is close at hand. I drift off excited at the prospect of uninterrupted sleep.
Oh, how wrong thou art…
The wee lass decided to declare hunger an hour earlier than usual. Moaning I slug out of bed for a quick bathroom run. Once the feeding bell is rung I am stationary for nearly an hour. Husband rolls over and says his usual, platitudes. I know he thinks it is being helpful but in my current state of mental instability, it is eye-rolling maddening. It is hard to stay positive.
Once I get everything into position in the nursery, the wee lass begins to eat. Calm has returned. The fog of a heavy head and a frontal sleep-deprived headache dull my senses. Late night feedings have drained me – literally and figuratively. By the dimmed light of the nursery, exhaustion has morphed my spirit into an uncharacteristic attitude. Minutes later, I hear my husband across the hall; *snnooorrreee*. I fight the feelings of resentment, I pray for tolerance, but when my husband is off in a privileged dreamland it is difficult for my frustration to not reach a volcanic magnitude.
Moms with tiny infants toil an often silent toil to provide the nutrition that is essential for the growth and development of their precious ones. Breastfeeding is a sacrifice, one that seems to languish. Through breastmilk, and through formula, all of us mothers find the energy to push through those first handfuls of months.
I wrote this little moment in time because I know that there are plenty of mothers who have been in the alternative universe of sleep deprivation brought on through breastfeeding. I also know that throughout all of the moments of frustration felt above, brighter and easier days come to pass. Even though this story exposes a particularly hard night in my parenting marathon, my husband deserves a significant amount of credit. He would put all of the daycare bottles together in the morning and wash them out at night before bed. He lovingly thawed out all of the precious milk I stored up and quietly covered up any spills or mishaps. As much as it may seem like a solo endeavor, breastfeeding and pumping can be a tag-team effort by both mom and dad.
For every mother out there who feels that she has miles to go before she sleeps – the mom tribe and tag team dad are here for you. So keep on pumping on.