So I was interested in breastfeeding myself for three main reasons. 1) "Breast is best," or so they say - so I figured I needed to give it a shot. 2) I wanted the weight loss element of it. And 3) It was a lot cheaper than buying formula for a year. And just to be completely honest, all three were weighted somewhat equally. I could say Reason One was my main concern and the other two were just nice side effects - but that would be untrue.
And so we breastfed. And when that didn't work out too well, I started pumping. But I had no set amount of time in my head. I've talked to a lot of moms who started with a goal: "I'll breastfeed for 6 months." Or who started with a smaller goal: "I'll do it for 3 months." Or who started with a conditional goal: "I'll do it for at least a month and re-evaluate." But I had no thoughts like that. And so here we are, 7 months in, and I'm still pumping away.
I think I have a goal now, though. He'll get breastmilk for a year.
At Bates' six-month check up, his weight gain was way down; he'd dropped from the 30th percentile for weight to the 7th. The doctor surmised it was because he spit up so much. She wanted to put him on reflux meds, but I preferred to wait until his next check up to do so if necessary. And in the meantime, we started adding oatmeal to his breastmilk to help keep it down.
It was at this point, I think, that I decided I should probably go ahead and give him breastmilk for the year. I figured if spitting up was such an issue, he might have a sensitive tummy. And if he has a sensitive tummy, finding a formula that works might be tough. Not to mention he might need the sensitive-stomach type of formula which equalled $$$$$$ in my mind. So breastfeeding it is. For five. more. months. Ugh.
Now don't get me wrong, all three of my reasons for breastfeeding still apply. And in the end, I think this is the best decision for our family. But there are just some things about the whole process that make five. more. months. seem like a small eternity.
1) Spending so much time at the pump. Bates certainly doesn't understand what I'm doing. So in his mind, mommy is just sitting on the sidelines while either he and daddy play or while he plays alone in his exersaucer.
2) Sort of the same as #1, but missing out on family time because I'm sitting at the pump. Instead of the three of us hanging out all day on the weekends, for example, it ends up being a lot of Jonathan & Bates playing while mommy pumps, and then me & Bates playing while daddy gets some alone time when I'm not pumping. We were having a lovely Elton John piano sing-along last night (yeah - you heard me) and it had to be cut short because I needed to start pumping before we put him down for bed.
3) The schedule of it. I have to plan my whole day around when I'll need to pump. Every decision I make about leaving the house has to take my boobs into consideration. It's exhausting. And it's frustrating sometimes. We'll be all ready to go somewhere and then it will dawn on me, "we're going to be gone for X amount of time, I last pumped at X o'clock, I need to pump before we leave." And then our trip is postponed for 30 minutes.
4) Washing bottles and pump parts. I try so hard not to let this bother me too much, because if I did, I think I would've gone insane already. I have to wash all that stuff sooooo many times a day! So many times a week! So many times a month! It's crazy.
5) How unpredictable it is. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than other times. Sometimes it takes forever for them to let down. Sometimes I'll have 3 letdowns in a pumping session. Sometimes they feel really full and I think it will be a quick pump, but instead it takes extra long. Sometimes they won't feel full at all, but I end up having a huge quantity. You just never know.
But all this to say. It's ok. It's worth it. If I went without sushi for 9 months and without alcohol or caffeine for a year, I can pump for 5 measly more months, right? Right??