Day 2: An Ode to My Breast Pump

January 16th, 2016

Ode to My Breast Pump
I‘m taking part in a 30-day writing experiment. The theme for me is “personal, not pretty.” See Kale & Cigarettes for details and the Facebook Group to read stories by other 500-words-ers.

Yesterday I happened upon this Ode to My Breast Pump that I wrote during one of my endless middle-of-the-night pumping sessions shortly after giving birth. I had frankly forgotten just how much I hated that breast pump, and how it brought out the bad angry poet in me.

Breastfeeding, for me, was one of the most degrading parts of the newborn experience. Not degrading like, I’m embarrassed about my breasts and don’t like to draw attention to them, but more like, when you have twins it’s very hard to produce enough milk for two babies—never mind get them to drink it. I felt like I was bad at it. And I had to be okay with that.

In the hospital the wonderful, super sweet, sincerely terrific nurses were actually incredibly helpful in encouraging the breastfeeding. Since marrying a nurse and giving birth, I’ve come to really respect nurses. Aside from the actual scalpel part, I felt like they basically managed my entire birth experience.

You tend to hear a lot of strife about nurses versus midwives and nurses versus lactation specialists and nurses versus the entire La Leche League. A lot of the literature will have you believe that nurses are out to get you when it comes to successful breastfeeding. But that was not my experience. The nurses at Lone Peak Hospital had a million little tricks to get those little babies to latch on. And they did not give up—even when I wanted to. And eventually, latch on the little girls did.

But still, there was never enough. I drank cup after cup of fenugreek tea until my B.O. smelled so strongly of fenugreek that I wanted to stir-fry myself. I also ate a gang of oatmeal every single day, took expensive supplements, and all the other things. I forget what they were now. But I did all of them. ALL OF THEM. What? Yup. I tried that one too. Promise.

Part of the Mission to Make More Milk involved pumping all the time, even when there was no milk to pump. For a while my consistent, 24-hours-a-day routine was to do the following every 2.5 to 3 hours:

  • Breastfeed one baby while bottle-feeding the other formula (30-40 min.)
  • Switch (another 30-40 min.)
  • Lay them down in a crib and then hook myself up to the breast pump and let it have at my boobs for another 30-40 min., despite the fact that nothing much would ever come out after both girls were done. In case you haven’t been through this, the point of the extra pumping is to increase your breast milk. The suction action encourages your boobs to make more milk. Supposedly.
  • Put lanolin on my poor, poor nipples and then try to sleep for 15 minutes before the whole thing started all over again.

The breast pump was my constant companion during the first bunch of months, and I developed a very volatile relationship with it. Tethered to it not just because I needed it but because I was literally attached to it by tubes, I often felt trapped and irritated and had to constantly resist the urge to rip it off my body and huck it off the back porch.

Sometimes while I was pumping, one of the girls would need something, and I’d lunge across the room to help, forgetting that the cones suctioned to my boobs were there, spilling that precious, precious milk all down my shirt and onto the carpet. Those were dark moments.

I stopped breastfeeding around month 9 when the girls simply stopped being interested. Probably because of my lame milk situation and their abiding love of chugging formula from a bottle like frat boys determined to win that drinking contest.

I miss it, of course. It’s the best. But I don’t miss that breast pump.


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One Response to “Day 2: An Ode to My Breast Pump”

  1. Tom says:

    “…I wanted to stir fry myself.” You are fucking brilliant.

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