Pump up the volume

            We’ve all heard the tales.  There is a baby who poops only once every fourteen days because breast milk is so completely digested.  There is a newborn who slept through the night at one week (OK, that was my second son).  There is a four-year-old who admits to knowing less than his mother.

            They are the parenting urban legends, stories that are whispered from one parent to another, tales that seem almost credible but not quite.  Children will eat green beans if you introduce them early.  Drinking a glass of wine before breastfeeding calms a colicky baby.  If you let her go out without her mittens, she will get cold and eventually agree to wear them.

            And, the mother of all urban legends, nipple confusion.  This truism holds that breastfed babies who are given a bottle will fall in love with the ease of that artificial nipple and henceforth refuse the organic one.  Before we have our first child, the lactivists accost us in parenting classes and in the aisles of Buy Buy Baby, warning us of the pitfalls of allowing a bottle within twenty feet of our newborn.  Even seeing another child taking a bottle might corrupt our little ones.

            Well, it is possible there are kids out there who find bottles so alluring they immediately give up the breast and turn to a life of bottle-feeding and crime.  But, my kids are not confused in the slightest.  They have all known exactly what they want.  And it is right there in front of me, leaking through my shirt.

            Another urban legend is that giving a bottle early will convince a breastfed baby to take an occasional “relief” bottle.  I’m here to tell you that we’re a little short on that particular brand of relief in the Rosenbaum household.  With Zach, I pumped and pumped and the child screamed and screamed every time that bottle came into the same room with him. 

            I had a hard time pumping.  I let down beautifully for the baby, but I never really bonded with the pump.  So, I would sit there at my little milking machine, making almost no progress, frustrated that I could be revising my dissertation instead of pumping out two scant ounces that the baby would promptly reject.  We finally gave up, introducing a cup at four months instead.

            With Benjamin, we gave up even sooner, having been so scarred by our experience with his older brother.  But, with Lilah, I really wanted to try.  I have two other kids, and it would be nice to be able to leave the baby for a little while so I can spend time with her brothers. 

            It all started out auspiciously.  The pumping went swimmingly because I started while engorged and used a manual pump instead of the article of torture called the Pump in Style.  I began freezing milk.  J looked on in derision.

            “I don’t know why you are bothering,” he said.  “She’s not going to take it.”

            “This one will,” I asserted, willing it to be true. 

            For the record, this one won’t. 

            And so, I pump and I freeze and we try, but we are getting nowhere.  I keep pumping because I want to keep my supply up, yet I know the chances are this baby will never tap into the 200 ounces of breast milk already clogging my freezer.  Yet, I hold to it, the thought that someday, sometime, I will leave her with our nanny without getting a desperate text message 45 minutes later, begging me to come home.

            A girl has to have dreams.

19 responses to “Pump up the volume

  1. mine will (blush, i AM an urban legend, it’s true) take the occasional bottle, miracle of miracles…but i have a measly 2 oz of milk in the freezer b/c i can’t get my wee hoover OFF the breast long enough to pump. so we’re just supplementing with formula when the marathon nursing sessions get too much. unless you wanna put your freezer in the mail?

    other myths….your kid slept through at one week?!?

  2. mine switched from bottle to boob to pacifier like champs. I love them for that! Sorry you can’t force them to take the bottle and your stash might be wasted. You can donate breastmilk. It seems odd, but people do it.

  3. Neither of my older two wanted ANYthing to do with a bottle. So, they both breastfed until the could use a cup as well.

    My youngest started refusing breast milk when I had a sever case of mastitis when he was 5 weeks old. Seriously, he would be so excited and then started sucking and then immediately scream. So, that, coupled with my 104 fever, made me oh so thankful that he was my one kid that would take a bottle for me.

  4. I loathed pumping – hated it with a passion. Breast feeding was fine, breast pumping and I couldn’t stop bringing up the image of those ginormous heifers at the state fair milking exhibition my mother made us visit every year! At least half of the system is working for you (I never ever managed that, simply couldn’t get enough to make it worth while). Let’s hope Lilah is more willing to try again on her part once the reflux calms down.

  5. Yikes. You sooo need a break.

  6. You can totally donate breastmilk! I know you have other plans for it but if it never comes to that I know of a couple of legitimate places in need of breastmilk. (I did a ton of research while I was pumping milk for my surro-son and his parents became convinced that the one glass of wine I drank one night was going to contiminate my milk for weeks. Not that I’m bitter about that.)
    Either way, congrats on the pumping success! Score one for the boobies!

  7. well, you can always donate that milk

  8. *sighs*

    I remember those days. I remember them well.

  9. My son wouldn’t take a bottle, until my brilliant mother soaked the nipple in hot water for a few minutes before trying to give him the bottle. It worked like a charm. It’s worth a try.

  10. I was always under the impression that for a primarily breast fed baby to learn to take a bottle on occasion, someone other than the lactating mommy had to be the one to do it the first few times. In fact, mommy shouldn’t even be in the room; baby can smell the source.

    But maybe that’s just a myth, too.

  11. Oooh, you’re brave. I posted something similar awhile back (along the lines of “nipple confusion is a myth”) and got some SNIPPY comments in return!

  12. I had so much frozen breastmilk in my small-ish freezer that it nearly crowded out the ice cream. (Horror!)

    And this was for a baby that happily took the bottle at 10 days old, continued taking it up to about the age of two months then protested dramatically. She felt that we were pulling a fast one on her.

    But sure enough the sippy cup came to the rescue once she began to put everything in her mouth at about 4 months. So we have been able to use the milk (although be forewarned: one day she happily drank the milk in a cup from me, but refused it from her dad!) And now that we’ve started on baby rice and carrots, breastmilk is a good base so, I’m back to pumping again. I can’t believe that my stash of frozen milk that once would fill a 2 liter bottle, is now down to a mere 455 mL (and yes we do track our inventory– that’s a whole other thread).

    And glad to hear the manual pump is working for you– the thought of a manual pump is a bit daunting for me. Sort of like chopping onions by hand when one could use a food processor. But I never tried it.

  13. I never pumped and wished I’d at least tried. My son would take formula milk and the breast, but I only gave it a go at four months, so I’m not a particularly useful example of anything here. It’s frustrating though, I think, however much you love bonding with your baby through breastfeeding, to feel like a bovine animal who has no freedom whatsoever because the baby has stubborn demands on your body. That certainly ground me down in the early days. Good luck with whatever you do – trying everything can by no means be wrong.

  14. I saw a lactation consultant to learn how to nurse twins before I had C & S & had been so terrified by this idea of the dreaded ‘nipple confusion’ thing (by the way, a non-parent friend heard that term & thought it would be a great name for a punk band)– that we started them on the bottle late & not well at all & in the end– S & C never took the bottle. Never. I could nurse them both & still produce enough milk to pump & freeze & I kept optimistically trying, but it just didn’t happen. Thought I would do better with #3 but we didn’t in the end–all about the breast. Three boys, lots of unused bottles in the end.

    Gosh, I’m a jerk for sharing that story. I should have just said GOOD LUCK & shut up….

  15. At the risk of changing to subject to discuss my own agenda – another urban myth of motherhood is this: “the first few months are the easy time – the baby only eats and sleeps!”

    I can’t tell you how many people looked into my weary, desperate eyes and said “why are you tired? this is the easy part – all they do is eat and sleep!”

    Perhaps someday I will realize that having a newborn was easier than the very hardest week of their teenage years. But while my newborn might not have done more than sleep or eat, I didn’t seem to get a chance to do either one.

    Anyway – I agree with you about nipple confusion. 🙂

  16. I never let down for the pump either. I never got that thing. I understand, though. Even if she doesn’t take it, I’m sure it feels good just knowing the option is there for her.

  17. My were into any kind of nipple. So I don’t get the whole confusion deal either. They always preferred my own nipples, and that was fine with me.

  18. My baby took the bottle with no problem for about a month and then fought us on it. It finally took her grandma babysitting all day with me and my husband both out of the house to get her to take the bottle again and she has had no problem since. But I am never the one to give it to her, that just makes her mad because she knows I have something much better up my sleeve. Or in this case under my shirt.

  19. Pingback: I’m back. Did you miss me? « Wheels on the bus