Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Story of an Exclusively Pumping Mom

I haven't talked a whole lot about our latest addition to our household, our Hannah Rose. She is 6 months old today. Anyone interested, I blog about her here. I've kept this blog as my own personal journal to her since I found out I was pregnant and all the fears that went along with it after the pregnancy with out triplets.

Hannah has by far been the most well behaved baby out of my 5 children. Andrew would be 2nd runner up and look at him now. He is a NAUGHTY boy...I'm kinda concerned LOL. I was really thinking this time around I would actually be able to breast feed her and be "normal." With Ava I had flat, inverted nipples and due to my own frustration and her lack of latching even with nipple shields I resorted to pumping breast milk. She breastfed at the breast more than any of my children. My problem was that from pumping, I overstimulated my breast to make to much milk and when I letdown she would chock as the milk overflowed from the nipple shield (the only way I could get her to the breast) I would have milk all down my cloths, the nipple shield would slide out of place. It was a mess. After several months of attempts to breastfeed without bottles I resorted to exclusively pumping and bottle feeding breast milk. I had so much extra milk I had to buy a deep freezer. I ran out of room at one point and started dumping extra milk...I had no clue there were donation programs out there at this point. My breast dried up on their own, despite my desperate attempts to keep pumping and by 10 months I could no longer produce any milk. She was still given breast milk until her 1st birthday with some formula introduce at 10 months.

The triplets, I was rather proud of myself for providing breast milk to all 3 babies as long as I did considering what we were going through. Even though the 1st months after their birth before their due date they were taking tiny amounts of milk, I was able to keep them on mostly breast milk until 6 1/2 months before once again I stopped producing. I had to fortify with formula to add calories and if there was ever a breast milk shortage Logan always got the breast milk 1st since he was the sickest. I will never forget the day Logan died how the only thing I had to take from the hospital that day besides his belongings was a blue plastic bin of the last bags of milk I had pumped for him. It was bitter sweet peeling the hospital labels off the bottles for Baby Boy A Gunter and giving the last of that milk to our survivors Baby Boy B Gunter Baby Boy C Gunter at home. I don't know why that memory is so much clearer than others, but it is. I'm still concerned that my supply will suddenly drop again. Then I remember with the triplets the STRESS I was under. 3 sick babies in the hospital, ventilators, brain damage, feeding tubes, the hospital being an hour drive each way, taking care of a 2 year old, juggling work after the 1st few months, taking care of 2 preemies at home, pumping, toddler, and still driving back and forth to the nicu everyday while working, and trying to keep it all together. Ha! I think of how lazy I am now and wonder how I found the energy and patience to do it all. Only answer is that God's people truly lifted us up in prayer and His Grace was over us. I don't think back to those 6 1/2 months of my life as much as I used to. When I do it reminds me of the good and the bad and how so many people cared about my family still do, just in different ways now.

Breastfeeding and possibly having to pump this time around with Hannah was the one thing I was NOT looking forward to. After all the pumping from the previous births, my nipples I felt were no longer as flat nor was the one side inverted anymore (just in case anyone really wanted to know about my nipples) I had high expectations I could get a full term healthy baby to latch and breastfeed well. I swore I would not even take the breast pump out of it bag. Nothing started off right. I was not awake when she was born. It was over 3 hours after her birth before I seen her and she was already given a bottle of formula. NO ONE encouraged me to breastfeed in the hospital and no one came to help (never once seen the lactation consultant after asking several times) a few nurses tried to help with latching. Once my milk came in my nipples were as flat as ever, she would root and never latch. She even refused the nipple shield. Hannah screamed and cried if I tried to get her to breastfeed....this gave me major anxiety along with dealing with 3 other children at home and a big vertical c-section incision. I resorted to what I was used to. Pumping 20-30 minutes ever 2-3 hours. After a week or so I had enough supply built up to start storing breast milk 4oz at a time. By the time Hannah was 3 months old. I had filled my small deep freezer full and started to fill a 2nd deep freezer. I think fresh milk is best, so I did not really want to thaw milk if I did not have to. This is when I was introduced to the facebook group Human Milk 4 Human Babies. There is a page for every state. There is another group I am aware of called Eats on Feets. These are groups of breastfeeding moms that choose to share their breast milk with other mothers who can not produce enough milk on their own for whatever reason without the cost of going though a MilkBank. Personally when I was offered breast milk from an old high school friend I thought it was views have changed slightly and I definitely don't mind donating, but I guess most mom go off the indication that if the breastfeeding mother is willing to give the milk to their own children, then it should be safe for their children. I think it is great that the mothers of this donor milk go out of their way to get this milk for their babies vs. just giving there children formula. I'm not here to start a debate on why or why not to give your child untested donated milk. I personally have connected with another mom of multiples who DOES pump for her twins, but does not produce enough for them. She was having to supplement with formula and her boys were not doing well on formula and needed a special formula when not fed breast milk. If you are over income for WIC this can be VERY expensive.  So, she buys my milk stoage bags and I fill them up with milk for her. Hannah being 6 months old now, I have given her June, July, August, and part of September's pumped milk thus far. I kept May's milk because it was mostly pumped in the 50 or so breast milk storage bottles I had collected over the past 5 years. I did thaw and give this milk to Hannah it took me 3 months to give her all of May's milk. Now I don't bother thawing milk for her. Hannah always gets fresh and the rest is frozen for my recipient mom. Because I am afraid of loosing my supply suddenly like I did the last 2 times, I try to keep at least 1-2 months worth of milk in my freezer. Hannah will not take formula at all. I've tried in a pinch at a doctors office and she kept pushing the bottle away.
This time around pumping has not been horrible. It does become quite an addiction for me. I can't stand my breast feeling full so I never go more than 6 hours without pumping at night and usually pump at least every 3-4 hour during the day sometimes more often sometimes less. I am usually able to store a minimum of 32 oz of breast milk in the freezer on top of what I feed Hannah every day. Each time I pump I am normally able to to get at least 16oz in 15-20 minutes. Often, I don't feel empty and wait 30 minutes and I am able to get another 8oz if I have time to pump again.

I like pumping because I can often feed Hannah a bottle of breast milk while I pump or someone else can feed her. I think she eats less often and stay fuller more so than a normal breast fed baby because she does not work as hard to get the milk. (just my option) This makes a less tired mommy that does not have to get up for late night and early morning feeds, well I'm up pumping at 6:15 and she eats then. I can feed her in the car and in pubic without having to find a private area to feed her by breast. I am NOT locked into being home to pump. I have a hospital grade Ameda Elite pump set up at home in my pumping spot and I have a battery operated double Ameda Purley Yours Pump that is small enough to fit in my purse that I can take on the go.

Yes, pumping requires time, sometimes I have a screaming baby while I pump milk if her previous bottle is empty. I have bottles to clean and pump parts to take apart, but I don't mind at all. I actually think I prefer to pump. I can leave my baby with my husband and run errands without worrying if my baby is hungry. I don't have the baby that won't take a bottle and only likes boobies. I feel like I am just as bonded with my baby. We still lay in bed together while I feed her. I still do not have to heat bottles as breast milk is good at room temperature for hours so she always has a bottle for fresh milk out.

I must say I am rather proud of the moms who have exclusively breastfed their babies and don't pump or bottle feed. I honestly feel like it is way harder than pumping.

No matter how you give breast milk to your babies rather it be by the breast, pumped into a bottle, or donated milk from another mom.  Kuddos for giving your babies the best! Best of all it is FREE!

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