In the hospital, everyone said to me, "Oh, you'll hate bedrest. You're going to be so bored!" A little reverse psychology and wa la--I was determined to beat the odds! Next, everyone said, "Oh you're going to be so stressed having a baby in the NICU." So what was my reaction? I was determined to be relaxed and to concentrate on taking this one day at a time.
But no one warned me about pumping 7 times a day, all day, every day, including nights. Because no one predicted my annoyance with the entire pain-in-the-butt, neverending process, I wasn't prepared to fight the negative feelings about the whole ordeal. Maybe my negativity arose after having to wash and sterilize all the pumping parts every time I finished (so as to reduce risk to Brynn's tiny immune system); having to assemble the same list of parts before I could begin; having to apply a heat press before the routine and a cold press afterward; being tied to a machine for 30+ minutes of straight pumping every three hours; needing to fill out little stickers with my name and a barcode for every bottle; trying to make room in our freezer for the 14+ bottles a day I produce (Brynn, even at her current max of 13 ccs every 3 hours only eats about 1.25 bottles a day); getting a yeast infection that made each pumping--and most times inbetween--severely painful on top of the regular rawness and engorgement that most women fear; having to add a vinegar rinse to my post-pumping routine in order to help with the yeast; having to mark and save every bottle I've pumped for the last week so I don't risk infecting Brynn with the yeast (term babies can handle it, but preemies can't); or realizing that I'm going to have the all-day, all-night, demanding feeding schedule of a newborn for four months longer than every other mom . . . I could get more graphic, but I think you get the picture.
The part that scares me the most, though, is that the lactation consultants at the hospital keep warning me that a lot of NICU moms lose their milk due to the stress and the lack of hormones generated by actually holding a nursing baby. So I've worried about having to go all the way through this ordeal only to lose my supply just before Brynn comes home and not even get the benefit of breastfeeding. Sure I could feed her all the bottles I've frozen, but only two or three months later I'd be out of milk and have to switch to formula anyway.
Needless to say, I caught myself complaining to a couple friends as well as my mother-in-law about how bad I hate pumping. Unlike grabbing a newborn from the bassinet, falling asleep as he/she nurses, and then sticking the kid back in the bassinet when finished, I have a one hour routine that requires totally waking up and going through a series of seemingly unending steps. And I don't have a cute baby nuzzling me while I endure the process.
Only now have I realized how negative I've become about this issue and it's time to look at the bright side.
First, 10 years ago my baby probably wouldn't have had a decent chance to survive. Second, 25 years ago, pumping wouldn't have even been an option--I would have had to do this BY HAND. Third, It's amazing that the body even knows to produce milk for a baby born just over half way through a pregnancy. Lastly, not only does the body produce milk this early, but it actually produces a special recipe--optimal for brain, heart, and lung development--because it "magically" knows it had a preemie. So this ordeal I'm enduring is the very best thing I can do for Brynn right now--arguably even better than Kangaroo Care. Getting to eat what I've provided is better than all the medicines the hospital can provide because I transfer antibodies and other immune system boosters that Brynn can't get any other way.
So why am I complaining?
No more. From now on, anyone who catches me whining gets . . . um . . . some of my leftover halloween candy :)
Seriously, though, I was surprised at myself after I complained for probably 20 straight minutes to my mother-in-law. After how hard I've worked to maintain a positive attitude and look on the bright side of Brynn's situation, I refuse to let something as trivial as pumping make that effort a waste. I really am determined to be better about this and I suspect I will relieve my misery as a result.
Noah's 5th Birthday
2 months ago