Monday, May 5, 2014

Goodbye Pump, Hello Formula

I've hated pumping since my pumping days at work when Jackson was four months old. After drying up, I tucked the pump away and never thought about it again. When the triplets were born, they were each able to latch right away. I breastfed fairly easily for a month. Once Jesse returned to work, I struggled figuring out how to feed all three on my own and keep up with Jackson. I also worried that they weren't getting enough. I made the choice to exclusively pump rather than breastfeed. While it gave me some peace of mind, I began to dread the next pumping session more and more.  My schedule was completely dictated by the pump.

I planned to stop pumping when the babies turned six months old. As much as I wanted to, I wasn't emotionally ready then. The guilt surpassed my disdain for pumping. Since becoming a stay at home mom, I felt like it was my job to provide breastmilk. I was making enough, so it seemed selfish to stop. I kept pumping, but gradually allowed myself to decrease the number of pumps per day. By 9 months, I was emotionally and physically ready to begin weaning.

Weaning was much more difficult than I anticipated. I naturally dried up with Jackson after returning to work, so I really didn't know what to expect. It has taken me three weeks to drop from 3 pumps per day (ppd) to 2 to 1 ppd. I am currently expressing every other day and still getting about 8 ounces. During these three weeks, I started my first postpartum period and the hormones, aches, and exhaustion have been INTENSE. I am just now starting to feel like myself again.

In the past few days, two different friends of the family have offered to donate their breastmilk now that their own kids have weaned. I've ended up with just over 500 ounces of donor milk. If I give each baby one bottle of donor milk per day, they will continue to receive breastmilk until they are 11 months old. 

I am so content with my decision to stop pumping. I will never miss:
  • driving down the interstate connected to tubes and bottles
  • setting alarms in the middle of the night to wake up and pump
  • toting my pump around everywhere I go
  • going upstairs to pump while we had company
  • sleeping in old sports bras with holes cut in them
  • washing out pump parts and bottles multiple times a day
  • picking out clothes based on whether or not I can pump in them without getting completely undressed
  • not being able to immediately console a baby because I was pumping
  • having to abruptly stop pumping because I needed to tend to Jackson or babies' needs
  • pumping while cooking dinner, washing dishes, etc
  • running around topless for months (Jesse says it's more like National Geographic than Playboy)
  • the aches and pains of clogged milk ducts, or even worse, mastitis
  • stuffing my face with oatmeal and lactation cookies
  • taking supplements (At one point I was taking 36 pills a day to maintain milk supply!)
Good riddance!
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The trio will be 10 months old next week and we still have 22 cans of unopened formula from the free Enfamil Multiples program. While that sounds like a lot, the babies consume 72 ounces a day and we go through two cans every three days. Between the formula and donor milk, we should only have to buy formula for one month. (I'm not sure what Maddie will drink after a year, but definitely not cow's milk.)

I came up with a really quick setup for formula. I had purchased sixteen 4-oz Gladware containers when I began making homemade baby food several months ago. The containers happen to hold exactly 8.5 scoops of formula. This works out perfectly because the babies take 6-oz bottles. (17 oz of water + 8.5 scoops of formula = 18ish oz of formula)  Every couple of days I fill the Gladware containers with formula.

Jesse's Blender Bottle has become the official formula mixing container. I just fill the Blender Bottle, dump a Gladware container of formula in, shake, and pour. This is our current kitchen setup:

It is amazing how much less time, energy, and space formula takes than pumping! Of course, I'm not advocating this route and I would encourage every woman to breastfeed for as long as possible. But, I've been there, done that. The babies had a good start. I saved thousands of dollars and provided the best nutrition possible for over 9 months. It's time to move on!

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