Last week, as I walked home from work, having just pumped milk for the last time before leaving my office,  I sent out the following message on Twitter:

Having returned to work at the start of the new year, this sound – the sound of a breast pump – has become the soundtrack to my day.

Kwuthump, rrrrrr. Kwuthump, rrrrrr.

On February 1st, Oliver officially started day care (before this he had nannies in the house). It was a Wednesday-  a day like any other Wednesday- and I thought I was feeling fine about this transition. Until it came time to pump.

Kwuthump, rrrrrr. Kwuthump, rrrrrr.

Pumping, for those of you who have never done it, is an interesting experience. You’re advised to sit in a relaxed place and position, turn off and tune down all outside distractions, and imagine your baby, suckling. Imagine her smell, visualize his smile, imagine the feel of her hand on yours. And the milk will flowwwww….

The reality of pumping is much different and, I can assure you, rarely resembles what I just described.

So here I was, on Oliver’s first day of school, sitting in my office – which has paper thin walls, by the way – my computer screens glowing, piles of unread articles and to do lists surrounding me, eyes closed, trying to relax; willing the milk to flowwwww….

Kwuthump, rrrrrr. Kwuthump, rrrrrr.

I opened one eye and peaked at the bottles only to see a tiny trickle of drops, not the flowwwww of milk that indicated copious production.  “Focus,” I told myself. “Relax. Just relax.”

Kwuthump, rrrrrr. Kwuthump, rrrrrr.

I looked again. Now there were no drips, and I could see only 1/2 an ounce in each bottle. This was not sufficient. I needed to produce at least 9 ounces, probably more like 12+ (I know this because when they called me at 1:00 he had already consumed 2 of the 3 bottles I left for him, which meant I had not left enough milk). How the H-E-double hockey sticks was I going to pump enough milk for him if I was producing one measly ounce at a time? Pumping every 2 hours for 15 minutes at a time at 1 ounce per session meant I would barely have enough pumped when it was time to start again. If I was lucky.

Calm down. Stop stressing. And don’t look,” the voice in my head said again. (I actually convinced myself that looking at the milk would jinx my ability to pump it. Hello crazy.)

Kwuthump, rrrrrr. Kwuthump, rrrrrr.

My mind wandered again. “Maybe having Oliver in daycare is a bad idea. Think about it; he didn’t need this much milk when he was with the nanny. Why not? Are they overfeeding him? They must be. They are going to override his satiety cues and he’s going to get over-fat. And you know what happens to over-fat babies…they become over-fat kids. And over-fat kids become over-fat adults (this is what nearly a decade of studying diet and obesity will do to you). But maybe the problem isn’t them, maybe it’s you. Maybe he’s not getting enough from you. Maybe he really wants more and you’re just not producing enough for him and he’s hungry and because you’re stubborn and principled and not supplementing with formula (the thought of which made me cry), you’re starving him. Nice one mom. Your son is doomed.”

Kwuthump, rrrrrr. Kwuthump, rrrrrr.

This is when I turned to my friends. (Thank God/Allah/Buddha for friends.)

(this is a fraction of the comments I received)

Later that night Tim read through the entire string of comments. In the morning he said “One thing is clear. If you’re a full time working mom who wants to breast feed this is serious.”

Amen, hon. A. MEN.

(For those also dealing with low milk supplies – real or imagined – here are two great resources: Kellymom.com and a book from La Leche League, both about increasing milk supply.)


3 thoughts on “#greatquestion

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