I hope you’re all enjoying the summer—and keeping cool during these relentless heat waves! Last month, I wrote about my recent pumping adventure and asked you to share your experiences. We received so many inspiring, heartfelt, and just plain funny stories that I just had to share a few of my very favorites. Reading about how so many of you have pumped for your kids—whether you liked it or not—just made me love being a part of this wonderful mom community even more. Thanks to everyone for sharing!
Why I Miss Pumping
I really planned on breastfeeding and pumping for as long as my daughter wanted, and was successfully able to do both until she was 7 months old and I discovered a lump in my breast. At 28 years old, I did not think the worst (even though breast cancer runs in my family), and I figured the lump was from breastfeeding or pumping. Still, I went to get it checked out as soon as I could, and tests revealed I had a tumor the size of my palm in my right breast. I was diagnosed with stage 2 lobular breast cancer and underwent a masectomy, followed by eight intensive chemo treatments and 32 radiation treatments. It was a very tough time for me and my daughter.
Today I’m 30 and cancer-free and my daughter is 2 1/2, but I’m saddened by the thought of not being able to breastfeed or pump ever again. I remember pumping and thinking, “Gosh I can’t wait until this is all over,” but now looking back, I realized I should have cherished the experience more. I do want more children and feel bad I won’t be able to feed them the way that I want to, but I know that I’ll just have to just deal with that when the time comes. My advice: Enjoy and cherish your time breastfeeding and pumping just a little more, because you never know what might happen in the future. -Cyndee R.
Date Night Fiasco
I pumped for one year (almost to the day because, man, was it annoying!). My baby never wanted to latch on, I couldn’t get help, and was working full-time, so after trying for two weeks, we were both frustrated. Finally I figured, why stress about it? My baby was going to get the nutrients and benefits of breast milk that had been pumped, and this way, daddy could handle some of the nighttime feedings, too.
Here’s my brief pumping story: For our first date night away from the baby, my husband and I decided to do dinner and a movie. At the time, baby was eating every two hours, so I was pumping every two hours in order to keep my supply consistent. Well, the drive to the restaurant plus a leisurely dinner took about two hours, and then we went to the two-hour movie. About halfway through, I was feeling uncomfortably full, and by the end of the movie I was ready to cry. I had no idea how much pain engorgement could cause, and of course, I hadn’t thought to bring my pump with me.
Then, I remembered reading something about being able to the relieve the pressure manually. So there I sat, in the movie theater bathroom, playing and squeezing my nipples to try to get milk to come out to ease the pain. Some milk did come, but it turned out it was not enough to do anything for the pain. In the meantime, I made a huge mess all over the bathroom stall because I didn’t think about what I’d use to CATCH the milk. So I saw there with wads of used toilet paper disintegrating in my hands, on the verge of tears, and God knows what the other people in the stalls around me were thinking. When I realized I was wasting my time, I cleaned myself up, told my husband to floor it, and moaned in pain until we got home. Lesson? After this, I bought two manual Medela hand pumps and permanently stored one in each of the bags I carry out with me. –Nicole H.
Pumping as a Paramedic
Back in the late 1980s, I was one of the first female paramedics in our area and the first one to get pregnant in our entire department. After giving birth to identical twins, I returned to my 24-hour shifts, which meant pumping every 3 to 4 hours no matter what I was doing.
As a fire department medic, your days are not your own. On a slow day, you might spend 10 hours in the station cleaning or doing inventory. Other times you won’t see your station for 20+ hours while you work patient after patient. There is no planning ahead or lunch hours or coffee breaks.
I knew there was no way I was going to stop breastfeeding my boys so the firefighters and other medics quickly realized that I’d not only be storing breast milk in the station freezer (which totally freaked a couple guys out), but that I also had to pump. On a side note, I actually did have one of the firefighters play a practical joke on another and tell him my milk was the coffee creamer–you can imagine the outcome and roaring laughter when I walked in with two new warm matching bottles after pumping and while he was drinking his coffee!
When we were in the station, I pumped in the bunkroom, since I wouldn’t and couldn’t pump in the unisex bathroom. The very unique part was when we were really busy: I would pump in the back of my ambulance! I’d tell my partner I had to get in back and I would sit in the jump seat so my back was to the driver and he couldn’t see me. I tried to be as modest as possible as we still have side and back windows and I don’t like anyone besides my hubby to see my breasts. You all know the distinctive sounds of pumping and can imagine it coming from the back of the ambulance. My partner soon realized he would have to deal with it and actually became quite protective of my pumping time, helping me make sure I had time to pump if there was any option and defending me if anyone harassed me about it. I had a cooler that I would store it in until we got back to the station that camped out under my seat. –MegaMom 9
Girls’ Night Out
I vividly remember being on a day trip with girlfriends and two of us had babies about the same age. When it came time for us to pump, we were just arriving at a brewery for dinner. The two of us stayed in the car to pump while the other ladies went ahead. It was a pretty warm day so once we were both situated, our pumps “swooshing” away, we partially rolled down two of the windows on the non street side to get some fresh air and a little breeze. Apparently our pumps were a bit loud because as passersby walked past our car, they kept looking around, trying to figure out where the “ree-ree, ree-ree, ree-ree” sound was coming from! Fortunately, our “hooter hiders” did their job because no one was the wiser that us two gals who appeared to be chatting in the back of the car were really busy making meals for our babies! –Courtney J.
A Rocky Start
It took two full weeks for my milk to come in and I was so distraught that I wanted to quit altogether (my husband encouraged me to continue, so I thank him for that). The lactation specialist told me to always offer my son the breast first so he would get used to “working” for his food and at least get some of my milk; afterwards I’d give him formula. I had to use the pumping machine to help my milk flow, which hurt like crazy, but eventually worked. If I filled up with milk, I would feel sick like I had the flu because my body would ache, so I couldn’t wait to nurse my son and relieve the pain. I nursed him for two years (I stopped formula after my milk came in) and at the end I went from having Dolly Parton boobies to NO boobies. I loved it though–wouldn’t trade it for the world. –Barbara J.