Dear exclusively pumping mama,
Oh, how I see you, sweet mama. (I’ve been you—twice now, as a matter of fact.)
I see you frustrated with your body and feeling like it’s failed you because you’re not able to nurse your baby. Maybe your baby is in the NICU and you feel robbed of this experience. Or maybe, due to other circumstances, you haven’t been able to make it work.
I see you tirelessly getting up before the baby does in the middle of the night so you can pump what your little one will soon drink out of a bottle. You’re tired, oh so tired. And you wish nothing more than to be able to just nurse the baby and fall back to sleep. But you can’t. You spend the extra time each night to get up and pump because if you don’t, you know your supply will go down. (Maybe you’ve even fallen asleep while hooked up to the pump. Don’t worry, it happens to us all. That’s when you know you’re truly exhausted if you can sleep through that!)
I see you stressing out.
Skipping just one pumping session or cutting one session short, and there goes your hard work. You sit there and count the ounces, hoping you have enough to store in the freezer as a “just in case” stash. You’re researching all the methods to boost your supply—willing to try all the supplements, lactation cookies, and what have you, just to make sure your baby has the nutrients from your milk.
I see you crying as you accidentally bumped that bottle of milk and spilled it all over the floor. You’re exhausted and that’s liquid gold–your hard work–all over the floor. They say not to cry over spilled milk but, girl, go ahead and cry. It’s okay.
I see you in pain as you’re dealing with another clogged duct or mastitis, knowing if only your little one could latch you’d be able to clear that milk duct quicker. I see you with the cracked nipples because you turned your pump up too high, hoping it would make it all go faster because your baby was crying and needed you to tend to them . . . but you were all hooked up and unable to move quickly.
Do you know what else I see?
Determination. Perseverance. (Maybe even a little bit of stubbornness, am I right?)
Because while you could’ve just gone to the store and grabbed some formula, you’re hooking yourself up to that pump to provide to your baby what only you can provide. Sure, we all know fed is best. And sure, every mama’s got to do what’s best for her and her own baby.
But you’re holding on. You’re holding on because maybe you’ve been robbed of your nursing experience. Maybe this is the complete opposite of what you imagined, and you’re determined that your babe will get your milk. Maybe this is the best way you can feel that connection. Maybe your baby has an allergy or is sick, and your milk is their best option.
I see you, mama.
And your breastfeeding journey may look different, but you’re one strong mama.
You’re an exclusive pumper.