This is a blog for my daughter Scarlett. She was born with a complex congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. She is my little hero.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Exclusive Pumping Sucks...Literally

Two nights in a row Scarlett has woken up crying a new cry. Actually, it's more like screaming that she's hungry. It's not her normal.."mommy I'm hungry, feed me please" pitiful little cry like's more like a "mommy, I'M STARVING HOW DARE YOU IGNORE ME AND LET ME SUFFER?? WHERE'S MY FOOD?!!!" kind of cry. It's very demanding sounding, and it doesn't stop until she'd fed.

So, each night (same as the night before for the last 8 months) I get up, I microwave a cup of water, while that's cooking, I open the fridge, take out my pre-pared thickened, fortified breastmilk, take out a clean empty 4-5ounce bottle, pour out 3-4-5 ounces into the for clean nipple and caps...wait for the water to finish warming up in the microwave (for 1 minute, 20 seconds), then I put the bottle of cold fortified, thickened BM into the hot water and I wait...and I wait...and I shake the bottle, put it back in the water....and I wait...and I shake some more...and I wait some more...

Then I test the temperature of the milk on the inside of my wrist...if it's still too cold, I put it back in the water, wait some more....and wait some more...and shake the bottle again and put it back in the water....then after about 5 minutes it's FINALLY done/ready to feed Scarlett. Total elapsed time: 6-7 minutes [From the time she wakes me up screaming, to the time that she's actually eating]. Did I mention that the screaming doesn't stop until she starts eating? Because it doesn't......and did I mention that it's not a casual: "I'm hungry-it's time to eat"'s more like a: "I'm starving when-the-heck-are-u-gonna-feed-me-how-much-longer-is-it-gonna-take-you-bad-mommy" cry. Because yeah... for the ENTIRE 6-7 minutes she screams her head off inconsolabaly. My poor baby.

So it just makes me this worth it? Is making her wait and get upset worth the value ane benefit of breastmilk?  It would be completely different if I could at least nurse her, but I can't. I have to pump. And I hate it. : (

More than once in the last 8 months I've gone on several breastfeeding websites to remind myself the benefits of breastfeeding and I just roll my eyes when I read information such as this:

· When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated. (Obviously *not* true if you have to exclusively pump and feed your baby expressed breastmilk)

· Breastfeeding makes your life easier. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!  (HA! I wish! again, not true if you're forced to exclusively pump AND fortify your expressed milk)

· Breastfeeding can save you between $1,160 and $3,915 per year, depending on the brand of formula. (yeah, cut that number maybe in half if you have to fortify your breastmilk depending on the calorie recipe 22-24-26-28 calorie..the greater the calorie, the more formula u use and before Scarlett's surgery she was at 28! definitely not "saving" on formula!)

· A mother can satisfy her baby's hunger right away with breastfeeding. (I'm coughing from gagging on the sarcasm...see above story in this post!)

· Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby, helping them bond. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.  (I wasn't even able to SEE Scarlett for 12 hours after she was born...and I wasn't able to hold her for 48 hours! Bonding??? I don't think so.)

So back to the title of this post...sorry to burst any heartmom's pipedreams of breastfeeding/nursing, but exclusive pumping (if you are forced to do so) really is the pits. It sucks...literally and metaphorically.   Other websites say a benefit of breastfeeding is convenience. Like, you don't have to worry about packing formula, bottles, nipples, water, etc, when 'on the go'. NOT TRUE if you're exclusively pumping. It's waaaaay more work.

Whenever I take Scarlett to the cardiologist, or to the pediatrician, I have to pack way more than if I was simply nursing. I have to pack a mini-cooler with an ice pack and prepared bottles of fortified/thickened breastmilk. THEN on top of that I have to pack a coffee mug to warm water in...THEN on top of that I have to pack my breastpump and ALL the accessories. Two bottles, two caps (or breastmilk storage bags), the flanges, the connectors, the membranes, the powercord, the tubes, and a cover-up if I have to pump in public. It's far from "convenient".

Here is a pic of a pump (similar to mine) and the accessories I have to clean and remember to bring with me:

 Please don't misunderstand me... I am a pumping queen. I'm an "exclusive pumping" champion and I wouldn't change it for the world (okay maybe I would change it for actualy nursing!)... but after 8 months, I'm tired, Scarlett's more demanding, and I start to lack the confidence and forget the true benefits of breastmilk. Reading passages like I mentioned above do nothing to boost my willpower, and I find myself thinking what am I doing this for? But something inside me tells me only 4 more months.
Subconsiously I give myself a guilt-trip thinking..look at what your baby went through!, the least you can do is pump some milk for her... quit complaining you whiner! Then that usually peps me up for the next pumping session.
Other 'exclusively pumping' heartmoms are a major source of encouragement for me. I think: if they can do it, so can I!  But when I hear about moms that give up... I'm tempted. I think... Wow, it would be so nice to be able to not be in pain, to not clean my pump parts... etc.. But then the little voice inside me says: Knock it off Melodie! suck it up and do it for Scarlett!  So, I motivate again to another day with me and my pump.
Okay that's enough therapeutic venting for today. If you're still reading this, thanks for letting me use my blog to pour my heart out about the woes of exclusively pumping. I appreciate your time. :)  back to pump now... mooooo!


  1. I loved your post so much. I pumped for each of my kids, but with Hope the stress became too much. First, when we were told the first hospital wouldn't do the breast milk started drying up. Then the day after her surgery it dried up for good. I was trying so hard and yet the stress was just too much. It is depressing and upsetting because I was able to pump for both of my boys for 6 months and I know that Hope would have benefited from it much more than they did (ok...they all benefit, but you know what I mean). I think you are wonderful to still be able to pump...I don't know when I would have the time now that Hope is home. I can't seem to find 5 minutes in my day to clean, let alone pump.

    Good for you and keep up the good work. I know it is a lot, but it really is such a wonderful thing to do for Scarlett.

  2. I HATE and DESPISE pumping! It's TWICE the work and therefore takes TWICE the time. I pumped exclusively with my first two for 3 months each and absolutely REFUSED to do it ever again. I HATE it! Then Jersey Girl comes along and needs breast milk more than the first two so back to being a cow. Just to humor myself in the middle of pumping I'd moo. I'm like you, I PRODUCE! You are brave and commited to have lasted this long. I'm impressed! You go girl!!

  3. Hi, you don't know me but I have found you from reading another heart mom's blog. First of all congrats on pumping for 8 months, I know it sucks. but my son has a single ventricle and I exclusively breastfed him for 15 months. yeah I threw in a few high calorie fortified breast milk bottles, but he hated them and so did I :) My cardiologist didn't really like the fact, but I even proved it to his face that Collin hated bottles and hated formula. He loves his boob and still does. He only nurses once a day and really only in the morning, but we have really exclusively BF for 15 months! I love reading your blog. I have a blog but never really "blog" I say I am going to do it, but never just sit down and do it. But thought I would say "hey" and congrats for the pumping, b/c like you said IT SUCKS!!!