November 18- Pump it Up

Fifteen years ago I had a breast reduction. I had these giant, saggy boobs that swayed with the wind and were not at all attractive. Or convenient. Finding shirts and bathing suits that fit right was nearly impossible and these boulders were killing my back on a daily basis. I was on the chubby side, but no amount of weight loss brought those suckers down even a smidge. My bra size varied between DD and DDD and my bathing suits were an E cup!

At 16 I had learned about breast reduction and really wanted it. I convinced my mom by marching into her room one night and putting different objects under a breast (because it would just stay there without me having to hold it). And we're not talking about a pencil. My demonstration included a purse, a ceramic statue and a large Kaboodle. **For those of you who are too young to know what those are:

So my parents took me for a consultation but I left scared to death at the thought that they'd have to remove my nipples. Of course they'd be putting them back, but to a 16 year old in my mind I was thinking all kinds of weird stuff. Particularly I was convinced the surgeons would accidentally drop my nipple on the floor and lose it, therefore having to replace it with a pencil eraser. What?? I was 16! So I decided to hold off a few years. By age 20 I was sick of my back hurting so I was ready for the reduction. Which ultimately was the best decision I could have made. Recovery was cake and I've had C cups ever since.

The one stipulation with that surgery was that I wouldn't be able to ever breast feed because they completely severed my milk ducts. And honestly my whole life I've been okay with that. Especially finding out I was having twins. Needing all the help I can get, this way my husband and grandparents could help with feeding. Plus with so many people saying what a nightmare breastfeeding can be, I felt like it was really the best case scenario. My OBGYN told me that I would get engorged and would have to bind my chest and not have any stimulation there for a few days, which could get painful so I was prepared for the worst.

Pan to a few days after giving birth. I noticed there was a little stain on my chest but I assumed it was from water I was drinking. But when I saw another stank later that night on the other side of my chest directly where my nipple is I started thinking something must be going on. This happened a few more times back and forth between sides so I knew I had to talk to someone to find out what I should do, if there was anything. 

We talked to a lactation consultant at the hospital who was surprised the surgeons told me I could never breastfeed. That now-a-days they are careful with that surgery not to mess up the milk ducts, but 15 years ago they were hacking away. She said it would have been better had I started right away, but it was not too late and they rent hospital grade breast pumps downstairs in the gift shop.  We were leaving for the afternoon but would be back later that night and said we would talk to another consultant to find out what exactly I needed to do. When my husband went down to get the breast pump there was a super helpful NICU nurse in the gift shop who overheard him talking to the cashier. She offered to come upstairs and talk to me and help me get set up. She reiterated the fact that I was behind the eight ball with getting started on breast-feeding but that was not too late. She said that it would probably take a solid week a pumping before I could even get anything and that would be every two hours round-the-clock. I was feeling very emotional about the whole thing because here I thought I could never do it and was perfectly okay with that so thinking there was some kind of opportunity really messed with my head. There was already so much going on with my ordeal in the hospital and coming to the NICU every day to see your babies, adding this additional challenge seem like a daunting task. Especially knowing that for a week I'd be pumping up nothing. The nurse sat down with me and showed me all the parts to the pump and how to use it. It was pretty complex but I figured I'd get the hang of it. I got started and couldn't believe my eyes when within a few minutes there was white stuff coming out! My sweet husband I was acting like it was the first snow of Christmas! He was so excited and encouraging and excitedly kept saying, "omg that's amazing! you're amazing! Is there nothing you can't do?!?" LOL. I got around a little less than a half ounce out of both boobs, which I guess wasn't so bad considering nothing should've come out. They said they would mix it with the donor breast milk the babies were getting in their feeding tubes. If ever there were a few drops, they would just swab it and use it for oral care which has been known to give them antibodies and still be of value even if it's a trivial amount. It wasn't all that fun and was pretty uncomfortable and knowing I'd have to keep this up regularly amidst all this other stuff going on seems exhausting, but my husband's support and enthusiasm was enough to get me on board. And because it will help the babies.

Flash to a week later and things didn't quite work out as good as I'd hoped. My body apparently works the opposite of what it should. The more I pumped, the less I got until eventually I was coughing up dust. And my nips were killing me! I finally couldn't take it anymore. It was not only affecting me physically, it was wreaking havoc on my emotions. Now I know I should be grateful I was even able to provide a little bit, but when you see moms walking into the NICU with 4 full bottles it really plays on your ego. Plus I'm chock full of a ton of other emotions with the situation in general, postpartum hormones and my body healing from the double whammy delivery that this has been a bit too much to deal with at once. 

So I stopped for a day and then woke up feeling guilty and tried again. Well wouldn't you know something finally came out. Granted it wasn't a ton, but it was at least something again. It took a few times of feeling determined and trying it throughout the day, but the same thing happens. After the first time it gets less and less to the point where nothing comes out. So I've just accepted it. It wasn't supposed to happen at all and I need to just get over the competitiveness that runs through my veins and just pump once a day to get the little bit out and at least they are getting a tad of my milk mixed with the donor milk. It's the best I can do and at least it's something. I wish I could do more, but it is what it is. I'll probably keep this up while they are in the NICU and then call it quits. But at least I gave it a shot!