That’s how many days I used a breast pump.
Our sweet Olivia Moonpie never got the hang of nursing. I suppose I could have been more insistent, but in order for her to come home from the NICU she had to show that she could consume a certain amount of milk within a certain amount of time. At the time, she still had weeks to go before her due date and between her tiny, tiny mouth and the fact that she got so very tired so quickly, she just couldn’t nurse. So, I pumped and we bottle-fed and once or twice a day, we practiced nursing. Olivia Moonpie gained weight, learned to drink from er bottle and we brought her home.
We continued to practice nursing at home and I pumped every three hours. I think I wore out the battery on my iphone with all the alarms I had set on it. Once we reached her due date we tried alternating bottle sessions and nursing sessions, but Miss Moonpie would fall asleep almost instantly during a nursing session. One visit to the lactation consultant, she did great and her weight before and after showed that she was indeed getting plenty. Another and we were told her latch was waaaay wrong. After a rather traumatic appointment with Olivia Moonpie screaming every time the consultant jammed her tiny face into my not-so-tiny boobs I made an executive decision: Olivia Moonpie had been bottle fed for months and, whether I liked it or not, that was what she knew and preferred. It was more important to me that she ate and ate well then that she get it straight from the source.
So, every three months, I re-rented the big yellow monster. Every day, I pumped anywhere from 5-8 times in 24 hours. During the early months, I often had company in the middle of the night as Shannon gave Olivia a bottle while I hoovered. By December, she was sleeping through the night and the doctor had given us the OK to stop getting her up for a bottle so I was on my own. Just last month, I finally gave myself permission to sleep all night as well.
I went from having so much milk I thought we would have to buy a second freezer to just barely staying ahead of her needs to, finally, doing some formula and some breastmilk (I’m a firm believer in making sure we have alternate routes and at one point, my supply really dipped low and I needed to know she could and would drink formula).
Today was the day to renew the pump rental. Instead, I took it back to the hospital. It’s weird. I’m thrilled not to be chained to it any more, to know that if I want to leave the house at 9am I won’t have to worry about missing my 10:30 pumping. And I’m thrilled there won’t be any more raw, sore, tender bits. But I’m really sad about it too. Nursing was something I had looked forward to. I wanted that one thing, that one time with Olivia Moonpie that was just me and her. I was heartbroken the day I decided I wasn’t going to push nursing on her. I got through it with the knowledge that every pound she gained, every inch she grew, every chubby dimple knee and wrist was because of me and that pump. And now that’s over. It isn’t over because she nursed less and less each day until she finally decided she didn’t need it any more, its over because we reached a certain date on the calendar and I just can’t justify paying for the rental any longer.
I pumped for three hundred and eighty days. I’m really very proud of that.