Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm not a pump mom anymore

Man, I've been thinking for a week now how to write this post, and I'm just stuck. So I'll have to live with whatever comes out of my keyboard at this point, since this post needs to be done with.

Since returning from San Diego, for almost a week I had been dealing with Darth D.'s cold that turned into wheezing, requiring round the clock nebulizer treatments. He's better now, thank God. But I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the 'asthma' diagnosis.

I know, I KNOW, that in this day and age asthma is FAR from the worst thing a child can get as far as illnesses go. I KNOW to thank my lucky stars that he doesn't have (oh God forbid) cancer, or a heart problem, or a liver problem. But the thing is, it's still a major pain in the butt. Darth D., he HATES having to sit for a nebulizer treatment. Doing it in the middle of the night is no picnic. And listening to him cough and struggle for breath is no fun, either.

I was feeding him breastmilk because I was trying to AVOID the asthma, and all the other problems that "they" tell you won't happen to your baby if you give your child nothing but breastmilk.

Darth A. only got a few days of breastmilk. For the entire first year, he only got sick a handful of times, and NEVER got an ear infection. Not once. But when I started taking him to playgroup at eighteen months, he started getting non-stop ear infections. That's when the peds finally realized that he had been snoring his entire life because he had enlarged adenoids, and the adenoids weren't letting the fluid drain out of his ears. So the first ear infection he got had never been resolved--the fluid just sat there, and kept getting reinfected. He had his adenoids, and then later, his tonsils taken out. Since the surgeries, he's only gotten ONE ear infection. I think that's pretty terrific. But until I had Darth B., I wondered if somehow I could have prevented his adenoids from being enlarged by feeding him breastmilk. (Yeah, now I realize how stupid that sounds.)

Darth B. got breastmilk for two months. At three months, in the middle of August, for God's sake, he got RSV. He wasn't in daycare, he hadn't been a premature baby, and up until that point, he had been completely healthy. But the RSV was hell on his little body, and he (and we) dealt with the 'aftermath' for two years. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I had pumped longer, if he had gotten breastmilk longer, whether he would have gotten RSV at all. But Darth B., it turned out, also had enlarged adenoids and tonsils which needed to be removed. So I felt like that problem, at least, was one that had nothing to do with me, and what choices I had made as a mother. It was a physical 'defect' written into my children's DNA.

Darth D. got breastmilk for five months, and for five months, he was never sick. Not even when everyone else in the house was sick, not even after his two older brothers, home with fevers and runny noses, kept putting their fingers in his mouth to suck. But two weeks after I stopped pumping, he got his first cold. And that cold resulted in an 'asthma' diagnosis. He caught the cold on the plane home from San Diego. It was his first time on a plane. Would he have caught it anyway, now matter what, even if he had still been getting breastmilk? Would breastmilk had made a difference in this chain of events? This is the question that haunts me. Another telling thing was that he didn't get an ear infection from the cold. Again, was that just luck, or did my feeding him breastmilk for five months somehow influence this?

When it comes to childhood illnesses, so much depends on the child's DNA, and luck. But I'd been sucked into this belief that my breastmilk would somehow prevent my son from catching ANY illness. Pumping was SO DAMN HARD, you see, and I NEEDED to believe that it was worth it. It was worth it, I believed, because it would prevent my son from BEING SICK. From ANYTHING. But that belief was misguided.

It's impossible to know what WOULD have happened if I had not pumped for Darth D. at all. Maybe he would have gotten sick months before. Maybe not. If I had continued to pump for him, maybe he would have caught that cold on the plane anyway. Maybe not. I do know what would have happened if I had continued to pump for him--I would have become resentful, frustrated, bitter, and I would have probably started to take it out on him, and the rest of the family.

So, was pumping worth it? Yeah, it was. I did the best I could for my baby. I can't protect my kids from all illnesses, but I can try my damn hardest to keep them as healthy as possible. And I know that feeding breastmilk is not just about the antibodies. There's other stuff in there that's good for them, too.

But I leave behind this phase of my life on a bittersweet note, because in the end, breastmilk still wasn't the cure-all I had fooled myself into believing it is. Pumping was worth it, the breastmilk probably helped Darth D. in ways that I can't even see--but it didn't accomplish all that I had hoped it would.

I wish I could leave behind this blog with a clear message of "pumping is SO worth it! You should do it!" But I feel uncomfortable with that, because pumping was SO DAMN TOUGH, and it was such a personal decision to make. All I can suggest to other women is, get all the information you can, from every source that you find, and make the decision that's right for you. In the end, pumping was still worth it for me. I'm proud to say that I was a pump mom. I'll have that for the rest of my life.

But the fact is, I'm not a pump mom anymore. It's time for me to leave this blog behind. So I call on other pump moms to start blogs of their own, if they haven't already, and if they have a blog, to blog more about their pumping experiences. We need to get more recognition out there.
We need T shirts! We need ads! We need a drink named after us!

Thanks to all the people who have read my blog, and commented on my blog, and emailed me good wishes and thank you's. You kept my spirits up, and made me feel not so alone.

And now, goodbye, and Godbless. Hope to see you around in another blog sometime.


Blogger laura said...

I, too, have had that hope of "magic elixer," even though my babes didn't get it as long as yours did.

Thank you, thank you, for starting up this blog, and continuing as long as you did. You came about at a time I was HATING pumping, and wanted to stop. You helped me stick it out just a little longer. I'm sure you've helped countless people whom you don't even know about.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Kudos to you! I exclusively pumped for 14 months with my first...and my second was born just five days ago. This one...I'll be nursing. It was a tough battle to overcome a few early problems (man do cracked nipples HURT) but I can't fathom how I could have pumped that long with an infant AND a toddler.

You are AMAZING to have pumped while having other kids. Seriously, you rock!

I'll still be pumping once nursing is established though, as I'll continue to donate to the local milk I'll still cover pumping on The Lactivist blog.

We need T shirts! We need ads! We need a drink named after us!

We do have t-shirts! I have shirts just for pumping moms at The Lactivist store...including some really great ones for pumping moms that donate. (These Breasts Save Lives and "Modern Day Wet Nurse")

9:16 AM  
Blogger boob obsessed said...

Thank you so much for your blog and your honesty. As a failed pumper I have often wondered if I had tried harder would my daughter have some the intestinal problems we are trying to figure out. I don't know. Breastmilk is amazing stuff. It's hard not to beat oneself up over every decision made in the process of raising a child. I hope you will keep your blog up for awhile longer. It's a great resource.

1:06 AM  
Blogger ceece said...

I have searched for your email address but couldn't find it, and I jsut had to thank you.

With my first, we started out pumping as he was in the NICU for 3 weeks. So not only was that a challege, but I'm anatomically, I was presented with a few challenges.

Pumping and nursing were just not fun, and I had an INSANE amount of pressure to NURSE DAMMIT from my mom and MIL. I was miserable. I ended up stopping nursing just a few weeks after I went back to work.

This time we started out in the NICU again, but thanks to your blog, I knew it was alright if I chose to pump the whole time this go around. the moms could kiss my ass.

So far things have been great. My supply is staying up and I am just so releaved that things are going much smoother and pumping exclusively is not a problem.

So thanks.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Your blog is fantastic. Kudos to you for pumping so long. Pumping is VERY hard work!!!!

8:22 PM  

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