Monday, 20 October 2014

Diary of an expressing mum: #7

I started writing this post at the end of last week but it has been sitting in my drafts whilst I come to terms with how I feel about it all, and since then there have been more changes which I've added toward the end, so I'm sorry if this post reads a bit strangely.

In my last diary post I'd cut my pumping sessions down to twice a day - morning and evening only. It instantly made such a difference to my days, not having to worry about needing to be 'plugged in' by a certain time and, instead, feeling free to go places without clock-watching.

Joseph and his Great Grandma!

With my new-found 'freedom' one of the first things I did was visit my home town of Eastbourne, as I hadn't been since Joseph was six weeks old, and I had lunch with my sister and a good friend from my college days before visiting my nan. Awkwardly, Joseph decided to be a whining grot-bag for pretty much the entire day once we'd arrived and I found myself having to ply him with milk that he wasn't due to have, and I knew he didn't need, just to keep him quiet. I don't know what was bothering him so much, but he barely let anyone else hold him and would just cry at the tiniest of things that wouldn't normally bother him. Even the car journey home didn't send him to sleep until we were half-way home. It was a tough day as I'd never known him to be so irritable and I was by myself. I'm forever going to blame the apple slices that I gave him in the restaurant for lunch because up until then he'd been a dream-baby and my friend even commented on how contented he was!

I then made the decision on the 9th of October to stop pumping in the evenings. Partly because I'd always planned to stop completely at six months so I needed to take another step down, and also it just finally got to me that my evenings revolved it, and I'd start feeling anxious about having to do it. I also noticed myself putting it off to catch up on the domestics and then ending up having to stay up even later to do it until gone midnight when all I wanted to do was lay down. Once I stopped, my house started to feel much more in order and I even began cooking things other than pasta and Quorn with a jar of sauce!

As a result of only pumping once a day, my supply soon became near to non-existent. On the day that I only got four ounces out (Monday the 13th), which isn't enough for a meal, I decided to stop expressing completely from the following day.

My boobs only started to feel uncomfortable right at the end of the Tuesday, but it was manageable and they didn't feel as engorged as they have felt in the past. By the morning of the Wednesday I felt I needed to express to relieve the pressure (and they had leaked overnight); I managed to get about 6oz and I wondered whether I'd find myself needing to pump every other day. However, that ended up being the last day that I'd express as they just never felt full again.

Joseph has been completely fine with increasing amount of formula he's been receiving, which I'm quite pleased about because at one point we suspected that he preferred the taste of breast milk to formula and would sometimes refuse his formula lunch and wait for his breast milk tea, which sparked some anxieties which I soon recognised as just being anxieties.

As I now finish this post, Joseph is a completely formula fed baby. He had his last drop of boob milk a few days shy of his half-year birthday and I 'celebrated' my liberty from my pump yesterday by going out all day to Thorpe Park with some mum friends and leaving Ruari alone with Joseph for the day.
We had a brilliant mama date to Thorpe Park!
Honestly (and maybe controversially if any of the mums I came across on various forums regarding breastfeeding are reading, which I doubt they are), I don't really feel that guilty for having stopped any more. Sometimes when I find myself doing nothing at a time that I used to pump, I think 'I could have been pumping now' and I feel a slight wave of guilt, but I then try to do something productive or something that I couldn't have done had I been pumping. Overall, I really appreciate having my time back and I have decided that I am going for a run tomorrow morning, now that my boobs don't feel heavy in the mornings. Perhaps if my double pump hadn't broken I may have carried on for longer, but I think I did quite well to continue with a single pump for as long as I did. (I'm probably in quite a good position to review both of the pumps I used, eh?!) I'm also glad that I managed to give Joseph breast milk for as long as I did, as breastfeeding was really important to me and I was really heartbroken when it didn't work out.

What I really want to focus on now is making the most of the next six months of maternity leave. I don't want to go back to work and wish I'd spent my time more wisely. I am looking forward to taking Joseph to Water Babies (we finally got to the top of the waiting list!!), learning sign language with Joseph, visiting friends, family and places I've not been to, going for walks in our Tula, and working on being a more positive me.

Thank you for reading about my expressing journey - I guess I need to think of something else to call these diary posts!

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Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x