Originally Posted by smokeylo
i pumped this morning for the first time using a manual pump a frien gave me. i'm afraid of my electric pump. i got 1 oz, bummer, but i didn't have trouble letting down and i figure i'm not going to master it in one shot, so i'll just try again tomorrow and maybe by next week i'll feel up to using the big scary pump!!
Lauren, I am so relieved that I'm not the only one who feels that way about my pump! It's undoubtedly the most expensive thing I bought during my pregnancy and I've never used it. I was practically in tears when I bought it at the consignment store, even thoiugh the salesperson was very nice, informed me that it cost less than a month's worth of formula, and she and another customer both commended me on being such a wonderful mommy and assured me that everything would be all right with this new chapter of my life as a WOHM.
I stayed home with my big kids and homeschooled on very little money until ds1 was 14, which was an adventure in itself, but it's over now. The whole time I was TTC and PG I thought I accepted pumping and bottles and child csare in the same spirit I accept having to wear clothes, GWB in the White house, my sister's death, and very few vegan options on the menu: unpleasant realities that I can't change by getting upset about them.
Now that he's here...well, I've been very lucky to have two jobs where he can just tag along in the sling and all the frugality skills I learned during all those years with the big kids and those little sources of income I never thought about before: birthday checks and my first tax return since my brief but unfortunate marriage and the $20 bill surrepitiously slipped to me with a whispered "go buy yourself something nice" that I use for what I want most in the world: one more day.
Terran is almost two and a half months old and if we've hit the crisis point yet, I've been able to plug my ears and cover my eyes and not think about it, which I kind of need to do right now: the rent is paid, the kids are fed, the electricity and the internet are still on and lots of people have things much worse. I know I have in the past and I will in the future.
But the big scary pump has another purpose that has nothing to do with capitalism:
I so wanted to do that. My first pregnancy symptom with Terran was an excruciating ache in my breasts that I described as "phantom let down"--sort of like the pain new amputeees feel in the limb that is no longer there. At first I only felt it when I read or thought about babies and then it spread to any time I felt compassion for a human, as if I wanted to nurse the whole world! I was taking an online sociology class and when we got to the living conditions of most people in the third world, my chest ached so bad I could hardly function.
After a 16 year gap between births, I still remembered so well waking up engorged and the relief of the little mouth gulping away the pain and pressure and soaking through several shirts every day in spite of doubling up on breast pads and accidentally shooting streams of milk across the room and how it was no big deal if we ran out of creamer for exy's coffee
It was different this time. Terran loves to nurse even more than his siblings did and I can't exactly say I have supply issues when my chubby cheeked little squishy boy is in the 95th percentile weightwise, but my milk never "came in" with that engorged feeling, my breast pads sit unused and I never leak more than enough to leave a slight stain on my bra (I don't notice the dampness) and I've never been able to express more than a drop, sometimes not even that.
I don't feel like a bountiful earth mother any more at all. It's a relationship, not a product. It's made me more commited to veganism as I think of the horror of what it would be like if a "more advanced species" took Terran off to the slaughterhouse so they could lock me up in a cage with the "scary pump" and sell my milk for money. I think of the lifetime of conditioning that makes the thought of picking up a baby calf and trying to nurse it simultaneously disgusting and ridiculous and the sentence "I'm going to run to the 7-11 and pick up a gallon of milk because we're almost out." something "normal".
I have had dreams of wetnursing another MDC mama's baby, but pumping, freezing, and shipping bags of milk to a bank to help an anonymous stranger just doesn't feel like it's going to happen.
My unexpected feelings about milk donation do make me appeciate the incredible gift that my sperm donor gave me all the more: the cup and the syringe were every bit as impersonal as the pump, but the ability to detach enough to spare an abuse victim the trauma of a natural conception and the complete altruism to give what nature intended to be an intimate act between two people who love each other to someone you hardly even know are something he can do and I can't...yet...
Terran's conception in the Motel 6 with the cup and the syringe and the kind stranger was a far greater expression of a far greater form of love than my other kids' "normal" conceptions, IMNSHO, and I need to somehow resolve whether or not I am capable of giving back that kind of love to the universe with the help of that scary pump.