I have to write this out -- actually say it out loud and applaud a few special moms living day in and day out the way we all do. Only, they do it differently than I ever did. How? Why am I feeling like giving every single one of these mothers a standing ovation? Two words: Exclusive Pumping.
That's right. For some reason, lately I've come to know of more and more women around me who made the choice, when the going got tough, to exclusively pump. I looked into exclusively pumping when my oldest, The Boy, was only a few weeks old. He just couldn't get the hang of breastfeeding, and I was a brand new mother. I had no clue what I was doing and thought that my baby would magically latch on with ease. I was not prepared for the difficulty of a disorganized eater -- one who could not coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing. So I looked into exclusively pumping. I tried to do it, actually. That lasted for about half a day.
The reason this has been on my heart lately is that when I've been talking with my mommy friends who exclusively pumped, I sense this twinge of guilt. It's like they feel as if they aren't good enough moms because they are using, or had to use, a breast pump to feed their babies breast milk. That couldn't be further from the truth, and I would like to say that I think you're more of a mom because you have done what you had to do for your baby. You didn't give up. The going got tough, and you know what? You said, "Fine. Bring it on. I'll add a pumping schedule on top of a feeding schedule. I'll bring on those bottles and pump accessory parts that have to be cleaned 'round the clock. I do it for my child."
Hold your head up high, woman. Don't think for a second that this isn't good enough because the original plan wasn't working. That doesn't mean you're a failure. Do you hear me saying this?
Exclusively pumping is not a failure when it comes to the scorecard of motherhood.
Anyway, there really isn't a motherhood scorecard; I made that up. And those of you mamas who use formula are not failures, either. [At this point I stand up from my chair and look at you in the eye to say, "You aren't a failure for using formula, and I really think you're an awesome mom because you are keeping that child healthy and loving that baby. This post is for the exclusively pumping mamas, though, OK?"]
At the end of the day, we're all trying to do what's best for our children. Whether you have physical challenges that make conventional breastfeeding impossible or emotional challenges that make it difficult, you are still following the feeding path you believe in. I applaud you, Mama, for taking on extra work. For not only giving your sweet baby that bottle of breast milk, but also pumping that breast milk, cleaning the parts, storing the milk and then starting it all over again in two hours. If I could see you now, I would be standing up from my chair, huge cheesy grin on my face, applauding you and saying, "Bravo! Bravo!" Then I would give you a big ol' hug (and I must confess, I'm not a hugger). You deserve it, though. Cheers to you, lady! Cheers to you!