The recent thread about formula/bottle feeding has gotten me thinking. I bottle feed, but I pump for my baby. She has a cleft palate that was diagnosed at 5 weeks of age. She is not able to physically generate the suction required to nurse.
There wasn't even a second thought about formula feeding. I had to in the beginning, because my supply was very compromised at the time of her diagnosis. I was only pumping about 10 ounces a day. But I started pumping immediately. My goal was first to get my supply back up and get my precious baby off the formula.
I was torn about the formula. I hated giving it to her. It smelled bad, she had horrible gas from it, her poops stank, her breath stank. And I felt like a failure for not having figured out the problem earlier. On the other hand, I was so relieved that I was able to finally feed her. She was so skinny. It broke my heart, but I was constantly trying to feed her before. She was on the breast, literally all day long. But the poor thing simply couldn't get anything from me. I had been doing breast compressions for her to stimulate a let down. She never cried very much either. I think she just gave up on me, and would suck on her hands and fingers when hungry.
It still breaks my heart to think of her so hungry, and my not fixing it immediately. I think part of me will always have that guilt and anguish.
It took several weeks, but I did finally get my supply up. I was pumping 9 times a day for 30 minutes a pump. I was taking every herb under the sun. I was drinking a gallon of water a day, and getting up twice at night. I felt like I was either, pumping, washing bottles, feeding the baby or changing a diaper. I was letting tv take care of my 3 year old, who didn't understand why she couldn't nurse whenever she wanted to anymore. I still have guilt over that as well.
It has been the absolute hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And I would do it all over again if I had to. Emily is now about to be 6 months in a couple of weeks and it is finally getting a little easier. I am pumping 4-5 times a day, not getting up in the middle of the night anymore, and feeling a little more at peace with my decisions. I still have a hope that she will be able to nurse after her surgery to repair the cleft (between 2-3 months from now), as she is still able to latch on when I put her to the breast.
I have found, when I talk to others that they don't really understand what I'm doing and why (with a couple of exceptions from people who have either btdt, or know people who have). I'll mention that I'm pumping, and I'll either get a puzzled, "why?", or just a nod of acknowledgement. They don't really get it. They either don't know why it is so important to breastfeed, or they don't understand why pumping is so hard.
So, my question, is whether there are any other exclusive pumpers on MDC? I already belong to a couple of pumping Yahoo groups, but I love the community here so much, I just wanted to know.
So, what's your story?