The decision to wean

The decision to wean off nursing and pumping didn't come easily for me.  As a new mom, I've always enjoyed breastfeeding and the closeness I feel to him when I nursed. I personally felt it was important for me to try to last at least one year because of all the benefits but at this point, I've come to accept the fact that it may be time to wean off from pumping entirely at 9 months. Not because I wanted to, but more because my body is incapable of doing so. 

Doing so didn't come with relief but rather some guilt and dissappointment. I would have thought, I would have felt more relieved with a new sense of freedom to not have to worry about having one too many drinks in case it affected my milk. I wouldn't need to plan out my outfits for easy access to the boob for pumping. I wouldn't need to set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night to pump anymore. Instead, a part of me feels guilty because I had “choosen” work over pumping. Dissappointment because I didn't try harder to do everything I can to make enough. I'm just physically exhausted and the daily struggles of fitting in time at work has been getting harder and harder. I feel guilty everytime I miss a pump session because I'm unable to walk away from the bench. One more waiter, I say. After this next flu shot. Then more waiters and more flu shots and doctors calls and training new staff - the list goes on and an hour goes by then two. Putting work first is not what I had intended to do but I felt like I had no choice because of the responsibility I have to my patients. Even though I'm “allowed” to go pump, realistically no more than 15 min max at a time, can I truly let the pharmacy run by itself? The answer is NO. Operations literally stop when I'm not there. Prescriptions can't be verified, doctors have to wait on hold to call in prescriptions, and when you come back to a 15 min backlog of prescriptions, it's time to play catchup. Do I resent working as a pharmacist? Lately the answer has been yes. Resentment starts to settle in as you push yourself to your limits by putting work first and yourself last.  Only every other weekend off, some but not all holidays off and working in blizzard conditions in the winter.  If you work as a retail pharmacist (nevermind a nursing mom) I'm sure you would agree about the daily struggles of juggling workflow on top of flu season, working extremely understaffed, and pushing corporate initiatives all while maintaining wait times of less than 15 mins. Is it doable? Sure, sometimes when things run flawlessly. But sometimes patient consultations may take longer than usual, holding for insurances for 20 mins for billing issues, all while being the sole pharmacist on duty. There is only 1 of me for every single patient that walks into my pharmacy. It’s not like I can hookup and pump hands-free at the bench, because that too will be seen as unprofessional but waiting more than 15 min would be unacceptable. You just can't win.

There’s never a long wait when the guy pharmacst is on, is what I hear from some snickering patients in the waiting room. I’m sorry but men don't carry a baby in their womb for 9 months then nurse/pump for several months after the baby is born.   I hate having to go back and apologize for a “longer” wait time (usually no more than 30 min total) because I was pumping for those 15 min. I shouldn't feel like I need to justify my longer wait times because all I was trying to do was provide for my son. Is that too much to ask for? I sometimes feel patients forget we are human too who need to eat and take bathroom breaks (although that rarely ever happens). I like to call it the ‘pharmacy diet’; lose 5-10 lbs because you're too busy to eat type of diet. Some of my regular patients are super sweet and would wait as long as it takes but the general expectation is that of course, our patients come first, but at what expense? In this case, my milk supply. I'm somewhat grateful I lasted this long but my body became even more accustomed to the missed sessions and is self weaning and producing less and less each day. I generally enjoy what I do and I'm pretty good at it too. I just didn't think I’d have such a hard time finding the time to pump at work even though I kind of knew, in the end this would eventually happen. The easier solution would be just to transition fully to formula.  Even though we have been supplementing for months now, every time I try to quit pumping entirely, I feel guilty that I should be trying harder to make at least something. 

Sometimes I wish circumstances could have been different and it was easier for me to be able to focus on the needs of my baby especially after starting a family.  Maybe if I was in a different field, it would have been easier.  I feel like women are already at a disadvantage and society doesn't particularly help by allowing us the realistic time to recover post-partum with (un)paid maternity leave or the support we need when we re-enter the workforce as a nursing/pumping mom. Yes, laws have been in place to allow moms a clean place other than the bathroom to pump and the time to do so but realistically, does my particular work environment allow me to pump freely? Not so much. I just didn't think work would consume so much of me especially when I'm already spread so thin.  Moving forward, this is probably for the best as my body adjusts back to it's pre-baby form and I can start focusing on what matters most - a healthy baby boy, a loving and supporting husband, and spending quality time with family & friends. 

Finding that balance

I keep telling myself that I need to start working out, eating healthier and just taking a mental break or a day to myself.  I've just been so exhausted that all I do is work, do more work when I'm home, take care of baby, try to clean the house, and try to get in some food and find sleep somewhere in between that routine.  Work has been so insane since flu season has started and I lost a full time tech that I've been staying late every closing shift, barely time to pump or even eat, and just running around getting things done.  By the time I get home, I'm just too exhausted to do anything.  I meal prep, make dinner, and schedule my pumps so I'm still not sleeping through the night still.  I know people post on IG all the time "stop making excuses", find the motivation to exercise etc,.. but in all honesty, I am just so run down that yes, I don't want to do anything else when I get home but decompress. Does that make me lazy? lol. perhaps. Am I making excuses? probably. But how does someone find that balance or "time" to carve out for yourself?  I went out with a good girlfriend for brunch (after weeks of planning) and it felt nice to just be able to relax, drink a bloody mary, and have a nice conversation that didn't consist of baby talk.  Am I selfish for wanting a life still outside of baby and home? It's not like I'm neglecting my family or duties but it is nice to just be able to do something for myself.  What I am having trouble with is still finding that balance between work life and home and being able to focus on myself at the same time.  I put everyone and everything first and someones I just feel run down and pulled in different directions especially at work.  Husband has been supportive and doesn't expect me to "cook or clean" and never has expected me to do anything for that matter.   But I do feel that he has more freedom to do whatever and whenever and I am still conscious on what I drink (or rather don't drink), time out my pumping schedule, and make sure baby is taken care of  before I make plans for myself.  I know that it is my decision to still nurse and pump and I don't blame him one bit but sometimes I just feel that I am carrying more responsibility and it is starting to wear on me just a little. How do other moms carve out time to exercise or fit in personal time into your routine?  Because I can't seem to get the hang of it yet.   

It's all about that pump life.

I don't know how many other moms out there struggle with their milk supply but I feel like this has been one of my major struggles since I went back to work. All I have been talking or thinking about is pumping when I'm not nursing.  Even more so now that baby is 7 months, I have to try extra hard to maintain my milk supply. My goal is to last until he turns 1. I used my very last frozen stash a few weeks back and it was such a sad emotional day for me. Like I feel inadequate to be able to feed my son.  I did buy formula to supplement because obviously feeding him is best. I have nothing against using formula or moms that use formula. I just feel fulfilled when I know I can provide enough for my baby and somehow my body had failed me when I can't make enough milk.  What has helped keep my milk consistent is taking the Legendairy Milk Supplements and I invested in a new hospital grade pump.  I ended up going with the Spectra 2 plus and so far I felt like I was able to express an ounce or so more than I would normally with my other pump.  I do like that it is also quieter, has a built in timer, and quite comfortable. What's worst is that work has been super hectic and being short staffed, I find myself missing pump sessions which in turn greatly affects my supply. And because I end up staying an hour late after we close to finish up, I've been rushing to get out of there and totally forgot all my milk at work. I was so sad and frustrated  that I worked so hard only to leave it at work that night, I just felt like breaking down and crying.  I had to mix formula for him for the next day since it was my 12 hour shift so no breastmilk at all for him. Luckily he wasn't that picky and drank the formula.  I just can't keep thinking, why won't my body just cooperate and make enough milk!