We were blessed in countless ways during the first couple weeks after my early delivery and Olivia’s release from the hospital. That being said, the beginning weeks were hard, especially since I was attempting to balance a pumping schedule with Olivia’s care. To establish my milk supply, I diligently tried to pump between 8 and 10 times a day. For the most part, we let Olivia set the schedule in terms of when she wanted to eat and nap. In case you’re curious, here’s a glimpse into how our day went:
12:30 -12:53 am: Last pumping session of the night followed by a trip downstairs to refrigerate milk and clean pump supplies.
1:30 -1:50 am: Olivia is up and hungry. After being changed, she eats about 60 mL.
4:03 -4:40 am: Olivia is changed and fed.
6:30 -6:49 am: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
7:30 am: James is up, showered, and feeding Olivia while I catch a little more sleep.
7:57 am: James takes the dogs out.
8:30 am: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
8:50 am: Quick cup of decaf coffee and bowl of oatmeal. Re-swaddled Olivia as she’s escaped from her blankets.
9 -10 am: Mix of holding Olivia, unloading the dishwasher, responding to emails, and putting a load of laundry in the machine.
10 -10:45 am: Olivia is changed and fed. Time for a new outfit.
10:45 -11:03 am: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
11:03 -11:45 am: Took some pictures of Olivia to update her album for the family. Loaded pics on my computer for editing. Placed next load of laundry in the washer.
11:45 -12:30 pm: Olivia has started to root again. Finished combining refrigerated breast milk. Changed and fed Olivia.
12:30 -1 pm: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
1 -2 pm: Waited for the home health nurse to arrive. She weighed Olivia and we discussed common newborn issues.
1 -2:35 pm: Olivia is changed and fed.
2:35 -3 pm: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
3 pm: Edited photos in Photoshop and loaded them to a Picasa folder.
3:30 pm: Tummy time for Olivia is interrupted by dogs barking at the door. UPS delivered a package.
4:30 pm: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
5 -6:30 pm: Olivia is changed and fed. James returned from work. He took the baby after she ate to give me a chance to fold laundry, open mail, and pick up around the house.
6:30 pm: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
7 pm: Dinner at my parents. Olivia eats again.
8:30 pm: Pumped and cleaned supplies.
9 pm: Olivia is changed and fed. James worked on his computer while holding Olivia. They both drift to sleep while I’m making a to-do list on the couch next to them.
10:30 pm: Pumped and cleaned supplies. James washed and sanitized the massive bucket of bottles for the day.
11 -12:30 am: James worked a little more on his computer while I read and got ready for my last pump at 12:30 am.
I never will forget how grueling the first 2 months were for our little new family. James really had to step up in terms of taking an active role in Olivia’s care, even at 2 and 4am! Not only was I absolutely exhausted, but I was also battling some pretty significant pain issues related to pumping and attempts at breastfeeding. I am so grateful for his support, presence, and attitude that “we are in this together.”
After pumping for 5 months for Olivia, I am in awe of mamas that pump exclusively for their babes throughout the first year of life. It is truly a commitment- not only on a physical level, but also in terms of time! I read somewhere that you tend to develop a love/hate relationship with your pump… I couldn’t have said it better myself… I loved the fact that the machine was my ticket to giving Olivia nutritious meals packed with my antibodies and other protective cells. I absolutely HATED the process- it is awkward, sometimes painful, boring, noisy, and absolutely DEVOID of the typical bonding moments that accompany traditional nursing. Trying to calm an upset baby while hooked up to a contraption that keeps her at arms length is not always easy. Feeling like you are missing out on the special bond created during nursing that you’ve read about in countless books is utterly heartbreaking at times.
Despite the moments of unpleasantness and uncertainty, I am so grateful for everything that our experience has taught us. I am now even more keenly aware of how important it is to enter into every situation with an open and compassionate heart that focuses on savoring joy.