Monday, March 13, 2017

Pumping at work - round 2 complete

Once again, the lovely job of pumping at work is finished.

While Royce just turned ten months old, between my freezer stash, spring break, and his deep love and devotion to food, I have enough breast milk to get him to a year without pumping!

Chowing tacos with big bro.

I actually can't believe how fast that went by. It seems like I was just going back to work, super overwhelmed with everything. I'm not sure I'm any less overwhelmed now, but at least this is one thing I no longer have to worry about! I'm packing up the pump completely. I have mainly used it exclusively at work for a few months now. At home, Royce and I just nurse. I hope to get to at least a year with that, but Royce is so similar to his older brother in this - he's already lost interest quite a bit,  and is only into it when he's really sleepy. Time will tell. 

Nursing: out. Exploring: in.

When I returned to work when Dalton was 12 weeks old, I set the goal to nurse/provide breastmilk at daycare for a year. It seemed insurmountable at first, and I drove myself crazy at times trying to reach it. When I did, I was probably equally proud and relieved. I truly believe that fed is best, but, I won't lie, the breast is best rhetoric got to me. As I've discussed here, I struggled badly with returning to work, and in retrospect that was probably where I channeled all my guilt, since it was something I could control. Logically, I knew (know?) formula is perfectly fine. If a friend had come to me and described feeling this way, I would have told them to calm down immediately and buy some Enfamil. But hormones are powerful, mom guilt is powerful, and I knew that if I did have to resort to that, I would feel that I failed. So, for better or worse, I did everything I could to avoid it. 

I returned to work with Royce when he was 13 weeks old. I was in a much better place emotionally, but, this time I had the sibling comparison to stress about. If I never gave Dalton formula, how could I give it to my second child? So, I set the same goal for myself. 

While we aren't at a year yet, I've done the math and, barring disaster, we should make it. Honestly, while there's always a sense of accomplishment achieving a goal, I'm not nearly as proud this time. Partially because of the perspective that comes with having a (slightly) older child. Feeding a baby is (relatively) easy, and it's a tiny moment of time in the grand scheme of things. I fed Dalton nothing but breastmilk his first six months of life and....he's still begging for cookies and eating goldfish he finds under his car seat cover like every other toddler. I still have the true challenge ahead of me - raising him to be a good person, just like every other parent, regardless of what they fed their infant. So yes, yay, I didn't have to buy formula for Royce, and while I certainly appreciate being able to route those funds to my wine budget, I know the true work is yet to come. 

The other reason I don't feel super zomg proud and amazed this time is that it was just a lot easier in round 2! The whole reason I can stop pumping 2 months before his first birthday is because I stocked up on my maternity leave and when I first returned and was pumping more than he needed to eat each day. My supply was better with the second child, and I also knew that it would drop at work, so I worked on freezing what I could. While I was still putting pressure on myself, I was much more relaxed about it than I was with Dalton. Finally, with Dalton, I taught elementary school, and now, I teach middle school. Fact: teaching middle school is just easier all around. So much easier. I had way less time without students in elementary, which of course made pumping more challenging. One constant that I didn't expect was that my coworkers were amazingly supportive both times. When I went back to work with Dalton, I was on one of the best teams I'd ever been on in my career, and I truly never thought I would find coworkers as supportive. Somehow, at my new school, I did, and I'm so thankful for good people!

The hardest part this time has been stopping! I'm extremely prone to clogs and, this time around, mastitis. I had to very very slowly cut back on my pumping times. I was down to once a day. Friday, our schedule was off, and I didn't pump at my normal time. Something came up when I was going to pump later, and I decided to just see if I could make it the whole day and I did, so I decided I was done. Emotionally, it's exciting but also a little sad. Even though I hated it, even though we are still nursing - it's still a sign that he's growing up. Always bittersweet. 

Dalton is almost two and a half, and I am not currently with child, so there's officially no chance of #3under3. While I do hope to be breaking the pump again sometime in the future (well, not so much the pump, but you get my drift), I will be packing it deep in the basement for the time being!

Other pumping/breastfeeding posts:

First update (my experience pumping as a teacher when I returned with Dalton)