Dear fellow pumping mama,
I know what it feels like. You have given up your body for your little one to thrive. It's hardly a sacrifice; that's what we constantly tell ourselves. We know how much our little ones are worth it. You are doing amazing.
I know what it feels like. To feel like you are less than a woman because you could not nurse. Whether it be due to medical or personal reasons you know deep inside that fed is best. You hear it all the time, but you feel like you won't have that same connection you longed for. You still push, and you still try to give your baby the best. You're a superhero.
I know what it feels like. When you gave your baby that first bottle of formula and almost broke down. I was there too. Fed is best. Fed is best. Fed is best...is what I constantly told myself. You still can't help but feel guilty for not making enough for your little one. You are doing your best, that's more than enough.
I know what it feels like. To be hooked to a machine for hours and hours in a day. To feel like you're missing that connection with your loved ones and always scheduling your day around a machine. I know it feels like it will go on forever, but I promise that it won't. You can do it!
I know what it feels like. To get that knot in your stomach when their pediatrician asks, "Breast or bottle?" You struggle to find the words. "Uh, both?" Yes mama! BOTH. You ARE breastfeeding, it just happens to be in a bottle. The benefits are still there. Be proud of that.
I know what it feels like. To resent your partner just for getting some sleep. To pump around the clock, tirelessly. To never having a good nights rest. To achy boobs waking you up and shirts that smell like rotten milk. You are doing what they cannot. It's an amazing thing what our bodies can do.
I know what it feels like. To spend hundreds of dollars on new supplies and see no increase in supply at all. To feel the guilt of spending money just to feed your little ones. To hear people say, "Hey! Well breastfeeding is free!" and you know that's far from the truth. Every dollar was worth it.
I know what it feels like, when people say, "Animals do it so easily, so why can't you." I know you bite your tongue when all you want to say is "Mind your business," and yet all that comes out is a nervous laugh. You don't need to explain yourself to anyone. Focus on your goals. Breathe. You got this.
I know what it feels like. To struggle with Postpartum Depression. To already feel empty and disconnected. When one little comment like, "how hard could it be?" is all it takes for you to break down. Your feelings are valid, even if no one else understands.
Regardless of how you feed, you are doing an incredible thing. You are raising a whole new life. You are curating their experiences. Make them good. Make lasting memories. Don't blame yourself for something that you cannot control.
Too many times during my own pumping journey, did I let someone dictate my emotions. I felt ashamed feeding my child through a pump. Too ashamed to answer when someone asked about a latch. I won't do that anymore. I luckily had such an easy pregnancy, I had no idea how difficult breastfeeding would be. To give your body up for 40 weeks, and then plan on going another whole year of sacrifice to feed your child is crazy; but, we're doing it. That's what makes you special mama. You didn't quit after the hardships and instead found an alternate solution. You deal with clogs, mastitis, bruised and stretched nipples. The hot water and constant massaging. You deal with every supplement and galactagogue under the sun. You deal with lack of support and fear of that baby scale. You deal with so so much. I've seen the breakdowns. I've seen the tears. I've felt exactly what you are feeling.
This is to the underproducers, enoughers, overproducers. To the pumping mama:I know what it feels like. You are not alone.