I’d hoped to nurse Thane through to a full year – he’s nearly 10 months old now. I made it just about 7 months with Grey. But I think this phase of my life has come to a close.
I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding. I’ve also had problem-free experiences. My milk has come in well. My babies nursed easily and right away. I’ve always had enough supply to meet demand – at least when they were little. But I start having trouble once they start crawling. I’ve come to the conclusion that the people who manage to nurse to a year or more have children who sit more quietly than mine do. You should see some of the acrobatic feats Thane has accomplished while attached to me. He’s got two teeth now. He’s started biting. He twists and winds. Unless he’s 90% asleep, it’s not really a pleasure to nurse him. I’ve been pumping for nearly 7 months now — a huge part of my day spent in a super-cold server room. But without the pumping, the supply doesn’t keep up. And finally, my trip to Washington not unexpectedly put a huge dent in my supply, even though I diligently pumped all the time I was away from Thane.
I have three options: keep trying to nurse him and attempt to deal with all these complications one by one, stop nursing him and feel like a failure for not making it to a year, or stop nursing him and feel like a success for having nurtured such a big, strong, healthy kid for as long as worked for both of us. I’ve decided to go with the latter.
There are a lot of emotions around this. Nursing is pretty cool. I mean, suddenly your body does this awesome, useful thing that very few other people can do. Imagine if your belly button suddenly started producing Hershey’s kisses on demand? It’s just awesome. I’m going to be sad when my body turns this new functionality off. I’d kind of rather keep it around unless I need it, you know? But no. If you don’t use it, you lose it. On the other hand, I might now be able to wear some of my more fitted blouses. Or (gasp) dresses. Or get some bras that do not look like they came from the 30s. I’m not going to have this little alarm clock in my head reminding me I better get some private time with a pump or my baby soon. I won’t look down in surprise to see any warm stains spreading when I don’t succeed in this.
It’s time. Thane has shared my body for over 18 months now. I’m ready to get it back to all mine.
I’d like to close up with some numbers. I know lots of people seem go online to find out “what’s normal”. I think I had a pretty normal nursing and pumping experience. I’d also like to give some perspective to people who think pumping is easy. I actually kept detailed records on how much I pumped (because, well, I do love me some data). Here’s how it plays out.
For 26 weeks
For 261 sessions over 108 days
That comes out to:
15 ounces a day
6 1/3 ounces a session (on average)
62 ounces a week
2.5 sessions a day
If you assume I spent 15 minutes a session pumping (I think it’s likely to be more) I spent a total of 62.25 hours pumping. Over those six months, I produced 12.7 gallons of breastmilk.
Please note that I nursed during lunch, during weekends and during time not spent at work. The above figures reflect the amount of milk produced while working full time.
Good job, Tigris and Euphrates.