I came to the end of a journey. A long, painful, exhausting, and difficult (but worthwhile) journey. I am officially done pumping. If you haven't read why I was pumping exclusively for the past 10 months (minus the last few weeks), you can catch up here. I had intended to post about my experiences with exclusive pumping along the way, but for some reason I never got around to it. I will now attempt to recap some of the more interesting facts about it:
- Most of the time pumping was a multi-tasking experience. Usually it was pumping while on the computer and eating a meal. My hope (fantasy) was to be able to carry my pump in a tote or backpack and do my household tasks while pumping. And I actually did do this a few times, until the battery pack option failed (of course). I was able to do some cooking and kitchen duties while pumping, which was nice (though cumbersome). My favorite memory of using this method though, would have to be when I was decorating cakes for the boys' birthday while pumping. Another extreme multi-tasking memory was when I was standing in the Atlanta airport, waiting for a flight connection - pumping, talking on my cell phone, and putting my contacts in at the same time.
- I pumped in some very interesting places. Many times I would pump in the car on the way to a destination. I had to pump in bathrooms, other people's houses, airports (as previously mentioned), the office (when I worked), at church...you get the picture. I had to take my pump everywhere.
- I pretty much had to swallow my pride and give up modesty and dignity while pumping. I had to pump in front of strangers, friends, family...it was horrifying to me in many cases. I did my best to be discreet. I covered myself up with blankets, tried to use clothing that would make it more modest, but it was very difficult to pull off the process without flashing boob at some point. To say it was embarassing would be an understatement of extreme proportions.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, there are a few things I had forgotten about along the way. Like the fact that as I am shrinking back down to a normal bra size, I am finding myself without a single bra that fits properly. And any investment in a good-fitting bra would just be a waste, as it will be a while before I get to my new normal.
And then there is the (major) issue of returning to the woman's monthly cycle. I had totally forgotten all that this process entails. I was going on a 3-day migraine when I discovered that I am once again at the mercy of the monthly visitor. I should be grateful that I am one of those women who don't have this issue while lactating. But I forgot about the severe and persistent migraines due to hormonal surges, the lower back pain, the bloating, the horrible cramps, and the irritability and moodiness...not to mention having to once again add "feminine products" to the budget. I cried looking at Christmas cards. What? Oh yeah, hormones. I've been snapping at the boys for stupid things. I need to get this all under control so I'm not Mommy Monster for a good part of every month. I will probably be trying a variety of things: supplements, exercise, more rest...whatever it takes.
So I am trading one womanly experience for another. And to celebrate the end of one journey and the beginning of a new/old one (that I have no choice about and will have to deal with every single month for the next, oh 15 years or so - but that I'm in no way bitter about), I think I will bake lots of Christmas cookies and eat myself into a sugar stupor.