My experience w/ Pu.mping -
I started using the hospital grade pump in the hospital the day that MT was born. It took about 3-4 days before I realized that there was actual milk being pumped. We (a lactation consult and I) tried a few times to get MT to latch on, he was highly irritated and unhappy about the process. He also had a very hard time figuring out how to eat/suck. I could not handle the cry of a hungry and frustrated baby - we supplemented with formula. At first I put the col.ost.rum/pumped milk in with the formula at the hospital. Then when the supply increased, we alternated 1 - breast milk bottle at a feeding then the next feeding would be formula... we did this for week 2. Week 3 we went back to mixing the formula and breast milk in one bottle so he would get breast milk and formula in the same feeding. I noticed this was easier on his stomach and bm's. I am still going his now. It seems to work best for us and I plan on doing this for as long as I possibly can.
In honesty, I was not comfortable with breastfeeding for me. It did not feel natural and made me highly uncomfortable (mentally) - The nurses and LC's had rave reviews over my ni.pples. Apparently, they are "perfect and accommodating for a great latch" MT thought otherwise. So I was fine with pumping. Plus I knew that E and others would want a chance to feed him.. and I knew that I would want others to be able to feed him.
The first week went well, I was pumping every 1-1.5 hours. This is something that w/o E being home and helping I absolutely know I could not have done. Sometimes my pumping coincided with MT's feeding time, schedule and would have been hard to accomplish if I didn't have E to help take care of MT.
Week 2, I began pumping every 2-4 hours. (the 4 hours is because I was having to go over to my parents to help my dad deal with my mother and because my parents wanted to see the baby - so I tried to make it ever 2 hours but sometimes it would be 2.5 other times it would be 4))
Week 3- I thought my supply was low but didn't realize that MT had upped his intake by 1.5 oz each feeding in a 2 day span. I was trying to go longer than 2 hours in between pumps. Since I am not traditionally bf-ing my body did not compensate for the more milk production, I had to tell it we needed more milk by pumping more often to get it regulated. Once I realized what happened, we got it under control quickly.
Week 4 - is starting now .. most days the pumping goes well. It is something that I chose to do, it is very demanding and time consuming. It helps me stay on a pretty tight schedule in order to maintain the oz's that MT requires.
Overall experience: Simple Economics equation Supply = Demand. The more times you pump, the more breast milk you should have. (I say should because some women, no matter what they do just can not produce and I do not want to seem misleading or insensitive) They say the amount of water you intake helps also. I could not imagine attempting this w/o an extra person to help out in the beginning when I was pumping every hourish. Some days, it just works well for me, Other days it is a struggle.
As I want to venture out more and having E going back to work, It tends to be cumbersome. These are the choices and conversations I have with myself: Do you take the pump with you, schedule to be home in time to pump, wait til right after you pump to leave, choose to skip the next pump and lose that session and deal, Feed MT get him settled then pump, try to entertain MT while pumping, etc
Today E went back to work at 6 am- His car would not start so he had to take mine. Bad thing is that we had not installed a car seat base in his car therefore If I needed to go somewhere today, I would need to find someone to help me get his battery charged and install a car seat base. But such is life - this was all before the sun was up ... Then my mom was standing at my door at 9am to see the baby. My dad sent her over because he needed a break (she is still not well and we are having to accommodate her until we can get her leveled back out - she is at a dr's appointment as we speak in hopes of finding out more of what to do and what can be done etc.. they are leaning to think she is suffering from b.i-po.lar di.sord.er. We are slowing finding out more and more and trying to understand more and get her to the right kind of help. This all started because, during menopause, she was suffering from insane hot flashes - a dr prescribed p.axi.l for hot flashes (never heard of such but ok) she was taking the pa.xi.l for a month or more (she can't remember and my dad never knew she was taking it), still having hot flashes, got pissed off and decided to stop the p.axi.l cold turkey. Not knowing that it was going to jack her ALL UP... and here we are yrs later and She is just so frustrated .. and I(and she) have seen just about every Dr in a 40 mile radius - I was at a loss before the baby was born - so now I am just plain ole exhausted by it ...Ok tangent .. this was about my pumping schedule - gah ... SO back to the point - My dad came over around lunch time - got E's car running, installed the car seat base and told me to drive it around for 20/30 mins. So my mother, MT, and I drove around. Came home MT was sleeping, we put together the bouncy seat, my mom decided she wanted to go back to her house, I went to pump, my cellphone/house phone started ringing a few times, there was a knock on the door ( the u.ps. man), MT decided to wake up screaming with a dirty diaper (also tired of being in his car seat) and it was feeding time ... and no E to help. So my pumping session got cut very short - but the next session went much better - MT was sleeping and the universe regained balance.
Like anything, it has it's challenges. It's been very overwhelming but it also has had moments of being relaxing and therapeutic. I just keep reminding myself that this was a choice I made, and I can decide differently at any time I want to. I try to put no extra pressure projected upon myself - but at times I feel I do.
I will admit that a few times a day I have tried to get MT to latch on to breast feed and we have managed to get a great latch every now and then. (it was suggested by my OB and Lact. Consult in order to up my supply - and it really does encourage an upped supply) I do see how if you have a child that is a champ latcher/sucker and a decent milk supply-Bfing is major convenient but time consuming (feedings every 1-1.5 hours in the beginning) and I do applaud all the bf-ing moms out there - Just because it is convenient does not mean it is easy. It is time consuming and a sacrifice also.
Bottle feeding also has it's challenges: Making sure there are clean bottles to use, what are you putting in the bottles? Is your baby cooperative? Keeping them warm/cold while out and about ... Everyone has a different comfort level and I believe That being comfortable and confident in your decisions is the best thing for the child - regardless of what it is you are comfortable and confident about. I am working on my comfort/confidence. It is good for me to write out and be asked questions, It gives me more reason to think through what I am doing, It gives me a chance to gain confidence because I am scared to death of posting what I am, am not doing in fear of others accusing me of wrong doings. But the more I post about it- the more confident I feel about our decisions we have made thus far and That helps me so much. Tomorrow MT has his one month appointment - I can not believe that he has been here for 1 month already!