Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can I get a "Holy Cow!!!"????

10,000 ounces.

That's how much milk I have pumped thus far. In fact, I reached that milestone a few squirts ago as I am pumping as I type this entry.

Jesse will turn 2.5 years old tomorrow. I started pumping on his birth day, March 18, 2006. His was a rough entry into this world and he was quickly whisked away from me (before I even laid eyes on his beautiful face) and taken to the NICU. Once I finally stopped bleeding enough to be released from Recovery and taken to the Special Care unit at Magee, I was greeted by a wonderful nurse who reminded me somewhat of Dan's Aunt Debbie by the way she talked and her mannerisms. She asked how long ago my baby was born and if I was able to nurse him at all. I told her he had been born 11 hours earlier and I had never even seen him. She left the room for a minute and came back with a Medela Symphony on a wheeled stand and told me I had to start pumping immediately. And that's how it all began.

I pumped for Jesse and my colostrum was fed to him in his bottles of formula in the NICU. On his fifth day of life I was able to attempt to put him to breast. Of course, by that point he wanted easy food from that dummy nipple so it wasn't smooth sailing for us. But with the help of a wonderful lactation consultant, Diana Jordan, who came to our home once he was released from the NICU and worked with us one on one, we got him to take the breast eventually. I pumped and bottle fed him for a while though until he figured it out. (Major props go out to all those moms who exclusively pump for their babies for one reason or another. I have EPed for a couple months total between my two boys and I cannot imagine doing it long term. A special shout out to my friend, Betsy, who pumped for her twin girls for 21 months. She rocks something fierce!) After Jesse got it, I still had to pump for relief since I was graced with a raging oversupply of milk. I had mastitis twice, recurring painful clogged ducts, blebs, leaking, spraying wasn't able to feed my baby in public for fear of showering everyone in a six foot area with my own liquid gold...

Once I returned to work, I didn't mind pumping for my special boy. It was a way to feel like I was doing something for him while we were apart, a way to feel connected. With all my milk though, I had more than Jesse could ever take and through the Yahoo MilkShare group I was able to find a local family whose mama was unable to make enough milk for her baby. I donated about 1,200 ounces to Melissa and Gabe in the fall/winter of 2006/2007.

As Jesse grew and got more into solid foods, I was able to decrease my frequency of pumping at work. When he was 11.5 months old I was able to go from pumping every 3 hours to pumping every 4 hours. Then when he was 14 months old I went down to pumping once a day at work. By the time he was 16 months old and I was a few months pregnant with Simon, my milk supply had diminished enough that I was comfortable not pumping at all while away from him for the day. He still took my breastmilk (from my ample freezer stash) in a cup at daycare until he was almost 21 months old.

With Simon's birth being a (mandatory) repeat cesarean, scheduled and controlled, I always thought he would just come out ready to nurse and I planned to do so as soon as I was able to in Recovery. We tried and tried but the poor boy couldn't latch effectively. He would try to suckle but his mouth was so small and his tongue would just push my nipple out again. We were both very frustrated. Even more frustrating was how long it took to get a lactation consultant to see me in the hospital. When one finally came, I got set up with a pump again.

Again, back to see Diana (this time at the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh) and again back to pumping. I used syringes and finger fed him while trying to latch him along the way for a month until he latched and ate one day when I attempted (oh the tears of joy!!!). After I was sure he could sustain himself by breastfeeding exclusively, I tossed the syringes and packed up the pump. I had already built a stash of milk in the freezer since I was graced with an oversupply again this time around, so I had no need to pump until I came back to work.

Simon's demand for milk wasn't as great as Jesse's and my oversupply isn't as raging this time around (thanks to sage tea) so I was able to go to pumping every 4 hours from every 3 hours by the time Simon was 4 months old. I like this schedule a lot better, pumping at 10 am and 2 pm each day instead of 9, 12 and 3.

I am getting ready to donate milk again, this time to Jo and her twin preemie girls. I hope that I am able to help them out for a while and not just make the one donation.

Someday Simon will start solids and need my milk less and less while we are apart. I pray he continues to want to nurse into his third year (and beyond) like his older brother has, but I admit that I will not miss this darn pump when it's time for me to hang up my horns for good! No scheduling around pump times, no tingly hot feeling when I have to push a session back, no more cow sign on my door of my office, hauling expressed milk back and forth to the fridge, mentally figuring warm storage time and how many more ounces I need to make this week's bottles, spending $10 every couple weeks at work for Lansinoh freezer bags...

In the meantime, I'll keep updating my spreadsheet so I know what's in my inventory at all times. I'll keep pumping as many times a day as Simon requires me to. And I'll keep adding to my 10,000 ounces.

Holy cow, indeed.


Life as a Beach said...

I'm all teary eyed with pride! You're an amazing mama, Joelene. It is crazy to think all the way back to the days when we were first going through all of our nursing issues together, and to think of how far things have come. Remember how nervous and afraid we were to hang up the horns at work?? Isn't it wild to think about that now?

You deserve a big pat on the back. You are continuing to give your boys an amazing gift, along with giving an equally amazing gift to 2 families in need. I'm so proud of you.

Chris said...

That's AMAZING! Way to go, mama!

Shaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaye said...

So happy to read your post and so proud to be part of such a wonderful group of donors. I just posted about milk share last month at: Congrats on passing 10,000 and still going!!!!