Monday, November 17, 2008

Girl Talk: Milking machine of doom

Men, you've been warned. Your brain may not be able to process some of the following information. Turn back now. (Sorry Dad).

Last Friday I talked about the fact that good choices sometimes get in the way of great choices...or at the very least, other good choices. I'm trying to decide if I'm facing one of those situations in my life right now, and what I should do about it.

It was important to me from the beginning to give my daughter breastmilk. I couldn't stay home with her, but I could at least make sure she had "nature's best food for babies". (I don't want this to devolve into a breastfeeding vs. formula debate...I have no issue with anyone who chooses to use formula or must use formula. When I went on vacation, my daughter drank formula for over a week, and she was just fine when I got back. It is not evil. There, that's out of the way). Personal preferences aside, have you seen the price of formula lately??? I'm a grad student, for crying out loud, not a corporate executive. 

After I got past the whole "mastitis" incident, nursing has truly been a joy. Pumping, on the other hand...oh my, am I ready to be done with that. I am very fortunate that pumping has been physically easy for me. A fellow researcher I trade off with in the dark corner of a bathroom that is allotted to breastpumping mothers has to pump for an hour to get 4 oz. of milk. In comparison, I could win a blue ribbon at the county fair for "prodigious producer". As long as I've been drinking enough water and leave out the mint tea, I can get 12+ oz. in about 45 minutes. I have a decent pump -- the Medela pump-in-style double electric model. If assembling a breastpump were a timed Olympic event, I could probably win gold. But I'd rather borrow a rifle from the sharp-shooting event and blow the thing to pieces. 

I have to spend anywhere from 2 to 3 hours pumping on weekdays, and on weekends I still have to pump before going to bed. Granted, I get to read a lot of books while I pump, but that's a huge chunk of my time. Recently I had to stop going to the gym every day. I just can't get enough done with my research if I pump and exercise. And frankly, after pumping at night I am not even remotely interested in getting cozy with my husband. As the ever-wise Sheila Wray Gregoire points out,this puts a strain on the marital relationship, but I can't help it. It takes a lot of energy (500 extra calories a day to maintain milk production) and I feel less than beautiful after disconnecting from the Machine. Nursing bras don't help. (Yes, I know you can get pretty ones, but they're quite expensive and I can't see how they'd hold up against milk stains). I'm beginning to think I should reconsider what I'm saying "no" to in order to provide breastmilk for my daughter. 

Of course, Aurelia's first birthday is tomorrow, and her 12-month checkup is on Thursday. Hopefully her pediatrician will tell me I'm off the hook now. And give me a gold medal and a million dollars...haha. So this may soon be a non-issue. In the meantime, here's a clip of another Machine of Doom. Westley knows exactly how I feel.


  1. I pumped on the floor of a closet in my assistant principal's office. I think I sat in a space that was 3 ft by 4 ft. No, that's too generous. I told her it was boring in there (she was my friend) and she brought a mini-TV for me to watch. Some stupid daytime talk show. It only took my 15-20 minutes to fill up 2 bottles--3 times a day at work. It got to where she would ask me for a file and I would slide it under the door. Teachers (also friends) would look so funny at the door. She would say, "Brenda's in there doing some filing for me." Or, my personal favorite, "She's having a meeting with the dairy commissioner."

    Ah, good times. This too shall pass. (Heard that from a wise woman once) ;)

  2. That's hilarious. The closet sounds like the "office" I was given when I managed a local Subway. Customers always looked shocked when I'd step out of it after finishing paperwork.

    I don't mind the breastpumping "station" in my building so much, now that I found some surplus accessories to put in there -- like a chair, table, and lamp. I keep it stocked with Parenting and Real Simple. But it's hidden behind a shower curtain in the corner of a bathroom right outside the main classroom used by vet students. So if you're there during a break between classes, you're going to get peeked at. "Oh! Sorry!! Wondered what that sound was..." I just keep my head down and keep reading.

  3. I nursed all of my babies but only used a pump to build my supply, etc. I don't think that I would have made it pumping like that...WOW! I'm impressed! I could never let down with the pump very well. And as far as getting cozy -I found that being 'full' made me feel a little umm ,more confident! ;-) And burning the extra calories a day by nursing seemed to burn up more than my exercise so I slacked on exercise during nursing times. (with 6 kids, that was over 6 years,lol)

    You had a question on another blog about crunchy laundry...some suggest using vinegar in the rinse cycle to soften and then shake out the clothes to knock out the crunch! I don't mind the stiffness but with baby clothes (cloth diapers), I used to throw them in the dryer for about 5 minutes to soften them up.
    I think you do indeed deserve a gold medal for such great efforts in nursing!

  4. Well, I am completely impressed. I never could get the whole breat feeding thing down. You've done great to keep it up for a year. I hope the dr gives you good news today!

    BTW, that is one of my fav movies! I recently watched it with my 11 yr old son. He loved it, too!

  5. Donna - I discovered that you actually have to "train" yourself to use a breastpump. I'm not sure if I would have made it past the first day if a kind lady at the pharmacy hadn't told me this when I bought my tubing and such.

    Thanks for advice on the crunchy laundry!

    Alicia -- I did get good news!! I am now officially free of the Machine.

    Princess Bride is the only perfect movie ever made! In my opinion, anyway. :-)