Beauty in Mommyhood: NUK’s Seal n’ Go Breast Milk Bags

Okay, so now that I’ve got more time on my hands, I am going to be doing more baby-focused reviews. I know. You’re excited, huh? Every time I turn around I’ve got another friend expecting a babeh and asking me something related to breastfeeding. I can never offer any advice because breastfeeding was a total FAIL for Elle and I but what I do know is pumping. I pump my life away yo. Nuk so graciously sent me some of their breast milk bags to review and I couldn’t be happier.

Breastmilk bags

While I was sent some of these to review, I have also purchased and been giving manyyyyyyyy breast milk storage bags from my moms who I donate milk to. In the 7 months that I have been exclusively pumping I have filled up thousands of breast milk storage bags. So I know a few things about ‘em.

Nuk breastmilk bags

About NUK’s Seal n’ Go Breast Milk Bags:
-100% leak-proof double zipper seal
-Superior oxygen barrier for freshness
-BPA free
-Leak proof double zipper seal protects against leaking

Nuk

I’ve tried 3 different brands of breast milk storage bags and Nuk’s get the job done, mamas. I do more filling up than I do defrosting them but both tasks require having sturdy breast milk bags. These are nice. They aren’t my absolute favorite because I find that the zipper seal can’t be easily sealed but I use them regularly and haven’t experienced any leaks. I like to fill my bags up to 7 oz  and these bags are completely stuffed at about 7 oz. I find that I can get more milk in other bags.

Breast Milk Storage bags

And like all breast milk bags, the measurements on the bag are all kinds of wrong. I usually measure my milk in a bottle and don’t refer to the bag.

And these bags aren’t just great for breast milk. We like storing Elle’s homemade baby food in them too.

Baby food

Esposo and I like to steam and purée fresh vegetables for Elle, put them in ice cube trays, freeze them, pop ‘em in breast milk bags and then take them out when we need them. These bags are fantastic for storing food! The food stays fresh and tasty.

Bottom line: If you’re a lactating mama or a mama who likes to freeze homemade breast milk, you’ll like these bags. Plus, they’re pretty affordable too at only $6.99 for 25 bags.

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 6 months old

6 month old baby girl

Technically Elle is almost 7 months old but I’m mad late with getting this up. My bad!

Dear Elle,

You’ve been around for half of a year. Wow! I value each minute and each day with you because I know that I’ll blink and you’ll be a teenager trying to get your sticky fingers on my beauty stuffs. Please slow down. I love you just like this. You’re so perfect. You really are. How did we get such a cool and calm, baby? Everywhere we go people are amazed at how cool you are. You have never had a fit in public (not really at home either) and as long as you have access to your thumb and can snuggle against my chest, you’re good to go. I love this about you. You are far from a high maintenance baby.

Brown baby girl

Your bottle can be either hot or cold and you’ll drink it. You don’t have to be held 24/7. You enjoy playing by yourself. When you wake up, you sing and babble versus screaming your head off. On days when I’m just exhausted, you seem to notice and make things a little easier on me. You’re a dream baby.

Folx keep telling me that it’ll change and one day you’ll become this evil toddler but whatever – I’m enjoying the now. And speaking of the now, SCREAMING is your new thing. You love to scream and I’m almost positive that I heard you say “Mama”. The best thing about you? Everyone loves you. Everywhere you go people want to get a closer look at you because you’re just so sweet. You’ve got this kind and wonderful energy about you. It’s captivating and you never disappoint and always crack a smile or laugh.

Baby photography

You started you on solid foods this month. Your first food was sweet potatoes and even though you make these hilarious faces, you actually do a great job at putting the spoon to your mouth and eating your food. We only give you a good tablespoon a day but you seem to enjoy it. Daddy and I enjoy making fresh batches of food for you. We both think it’s great to provide you with fresh veggies over the canned baby food. We really want to give you a good start when it comes to nutrition. Mama is still pumping to give you breast milk and I won’t stop until you’re at least a year old.

Baby touches toes

And guess what? We are still using cloth diapers! People told me that I would give up on them by now but nope I love diapering you in your cute patterned cloth. And you’ve never had a diaper rash so hey…maybe this cloth stuff is right on!

Mama guilt struck me again and I was starting to think that you were still small but your pediatrician keeps telling me how perfect you are. You’re just petite. Just when I  started to doubt things, you began sitting up. And then getting on all fours with the attempts to crawl. Seriously? I’ve got a baby that is about to crawl? Ohmigoodness…please stop growing so quickly, baby.

Baby at 6 month old

Elle Bits:
-You’re a little under 14 lbs.
-You’ve tasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots.
-We sold your swing. You don’t use it anymore and it was taking up space.
-Your feet finally touch the bottom of your bouncer!
-You love your new highchair.
-Your skin has been super itchy so mama has gone gluten-free to see if that is the issue.
-If you see someone put it in their mouth, you want it too.
-Your appetite is through the roof…you’re eating a lot more.
-You can hold your bottle.
-You like putting your foot in your mouth. Literally.

Thank you so much for being the light of our lives. Love you, sweet girl.

XOXO,

Your Mama

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 5 Months Old!

Brown Baby

Dear Elle Belle,

Yaaaaaaay!!! You crack up every time I say that. I mean, EVERY TIME. If if weren’t for your pictures, I would hardly remember you being a 5 lb little peanut. You are 13 lbs of chunk and I love it. I have gotten over feeling bad for your small weight. Mommy guilt is something else. I blamed myself for your being born early. I blamed myself for you being so little. And I blamed myself for you not breasteeding. I’ve let it all go. I am more focused on the now and making sure that you are happy and healthy.

My entire life is being blogged

And you’re both. You have the best personality, Muffin. I mean, seriously…I look forward to you waking up in the morning. You pop your head up and give me the biggest smile. And you laugh. A lot. You laugh, you talk, you babble, you sing…it is all so beautiful to me. You tend to be quieter around different surroundings and people but when you are at home and in your element, you can talk nonstop. You’ve started screaming too. Long gone is your sweet whimper. Now when there’s something you want, you SCREAM. And you growl too. Daddy and I think it’s hilarious. How can you be so cute by growling?

Easycare rainbow 1

And you want to touch everything. If it is anywhere near your reach, you’re grabbing it.

Baby hand

That includes Daddy’s beard and Mommy’s earrings. You know how to grab for your bottle to bring it to your mouth. You grab at any and everything. And the minute you get whatever it is you want, it’s going straight into your mouth. How your little mouth emits so much drool is beyond me. You go through at least 2-3 bibs a day.

Pretty baby

Eating

You are still eating nothing but breast milk. Mama’s milk supply has decreased significantly but I still have enough to feed you and to donate. I am going to start stashing away milk so that by the time you turn 1, you’ll have enough milk until you’re at least 14-16 months old. No solids yet. We’ll wait until you’re 6 months. You are definitely interested though. You stare at Daddy and I when we eat and you love grabbing at our plates.

Sleeping

You’ve got one wonky sleep schedule but I stopped complained about it. You HAVE to be in bed by 7pm. If we don’t get you there, you are beyond fussy. You’ll get up for a bottle around 10pm and then you get up again at 3am. Each time you wake up, you go back to sleep after having your bottle. You take nice long naps throughout the day (at least 2) and on the weekends when you don’t nap, you’re still in good spirits. When it’s time for night-night, you pop your thumb in your mouth and go right to sleep. It is usually that easy.

Clumps of Mascara baby

You got your ears pierced and I adore them! You look even sweeter and you handled the piercing like a champ. Your eczema is clearing up beautifully. You wear cloth diapers every night and if I can come across more affordably, I want to start clothing you when you go to your sitter. Cloth diapering is surprisingly easy and it feels great not having to buy diapers every week. Oh…and that stroller? We don’t touch it. Mama wears you everywhere!

Baby wearing

I never got why women were so passionate about baby wearing but I’ve seen the light. One day it was pouring down raining. I had to get you, groceries, my breast pump, your bottle bag and my purse out of the car. We waited for the rain to stop for 20 minutes. It didn’t stop. I popped you in a ring sling and grabbed the bags and an umbrella and made it to the door. I had never felt so powerful before. You? You just babbled the whole time mama dodged rain puddles.

Girasol Double Rainbow

Basically, you’re perfect. I know no one is perfect but you are, Muffin. You really are. You light up our lives and you give me purpose each and everyday. I work harder for you. I hate having to go to work and leave you but at the same time, I take pride in knowing that I am actively working hard to provide for our family. It’s not easy but I work long hours, come home to play and snuggle with you, clean the house, run a business and I do it everyday. It’s exhausting but so rewarding.

It is an honor being your mommy.

Elle Bits:
-You giggle uncontrollably when I try to clean your neck.
-You are now totally against your carseat. You cry every time we drive. You eventually soothe yourself.
-Your pediatrician says that you are healthy!
-You love nature.
-You are nosy. I mean, so nosy. You want to see EVERY thing.
-You love music. And you love being sung to.
-You smile. A lot! And at strangers too.

You rock. Thanks for being my baby.

Love,
Mommy

Got breast milk? Use Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump!

It’s about time I get started doing some reviews on baby products, uh? I get a lot of questions about what I use with Elle and I am finally going to start cranking out some reviews. First things first! Since pumping is my life I figured I’d start with a breast pump. I received this one for review and it has been such a great asset to my exclusively pumping life.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump

I typically use an electric breast pump to express milk and I highly recommend that mamas who do more pumping than nursing do the same thing. However, a manual breast pump fits in my life well because I don’t always have time to connect myself to the electric breast pump. Sometimes I get caught up with working or I’m traveling or I just don’t feel like going through the whole “finding time to pump” routine. And that’s when the manual breast pump comes in handy.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump box

I’ve been amazed at how much this baby can express in a good 5 minutes. I find it works best when I am slightly engorged. It does enough to relieve the pressure and cleanup is a breeze.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump top

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump open

I actually have another manual breast pump that I’ve purchased and I prefer this one over the one I bought because this one seems to be 10x more comfortable. I attribute that to the silicone flange.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump silicone cover

The pump is also effective without the flange and I find that my output is MORE when I don’t use it. However, if I’m going for comfort and to take the “edge off”, I use the silicone flange. Clean up is easy because there aren’t that many parts that I had to tinker with. The pump comes with a nice booklet of instructions. It looked easy to dissemble but I actually had to refer to the manual to find out how to do it.

PROs

-It’s affordable. It is only $30.
-Larger Nuk bottles can fit into the pump. Perfect for pumping and then feeding baby right away.
-Easy to find. You can get it Target, Walmart, etc..
-Parts are easy to clean.
-Comfortable and has a nice suction.
-A bottle nipple comes with the pump.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump additional nipple

 

CONs

-Dissembling the parts is tricky the first go round.
-Can be messy. But so are all manual hand pumps.
-There are several parts to clean.

I’m a fan and I’m actually going to purchase another one to keep in the car for an emergency expression situation. You laugh but there is nothing funny about engorgement and not being able to express it quickly. Remind me to tell you about that time I had to hand express milk for Elle when I accidentally left one of her bottles at home and she had gulped down the one I brought. :wink: Yah. The exclusively pumping life is somethin’ else, I tell ya…

Breastfeeding mamas, do you ever use manual breast pumps?

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 4 Months Old!

Elle is 4 months old

Dear Elle,

Hey there, big girl! Technically you’re 20 weeks old which means you are almost 5 months old. I was all late with getting your doctor’s appointment squared away so you won’t be getting your 4 month checkup until like uh…this week. I am SO excited (and nervous) to see how much you weigh. I’m hoping that you’re at least 14 lbs or so. I see you getting bigger and you are officially in 6-9 months clothing but I always wonder if my breastmilk is enough for you. People keep telling me how small you are and it bugs me.

They don’t know how far you’ve come. Every baby isn’t super chubby and it’s a bit insensitive to say things like, “Wow…she’s so small.” to parents of preemies and small babies. But whatever. I’m learning how to let it go. We don’t plan on introducing food for awhile so you’ve still got some months being exclusively breastfed. You do have your own little raspberry shop though.

Blowing raspberries

You love blowing spit bubbles. It cracks your Grandma Clumps up. Speaking of her…she adores you. So so much. You’re so incredibly loved by so many people. Everyone is in love with your eyes. “They are so alert!” they say.

Pretty eyed girl

And it’s true. I’m not sure where you got your eyes from but I love looking in them. I’ll never forget the night I finished giving you a bottle and you stared right into my eyes. We looked eyes for a good 30 seconds and then you gave me the biggest smile ever. I love moments like that.

Traveling baby

Last night I asked your Daddy what if he thought you cried a lot. On a scale from 1-10 with 10 being A LOT, we both gave you a 3. You hardly ever cry. Your sitter says the same thing. I am so grateful we ended up with a cool and calm little girl. Your personality is so here and when you don’t have a constant smile on your face we know you’re sleepy or need some downtime. Your demeanor is so pleasant that this month we pushed it to the limits a bit by having adventures waaaay past your bedtime (success!) and taking a 4.5 hour road trip one day and returning the next (tragedy!). We’re trying to learn you and for the most part I think your Daddy and I  are becoming amazing parents. I’m so proud of your Daddy. He works a lot, yes, but when he’s here he wants a ton of Elle and Daddy time. He snuggles you and has you giggling up a storm when he kisses your tummy.

Baby and Daddy

You love when he does that. We both sing to you and we’re amazed at how you watch TV like a big girl. Doc McStuffins in your favorite. Every time you hear the theme song your face lights up. And when you’re fussy and nothing is helping soothe you, if I bust out in “Doe A Deer” from The Sound of Music, you calm down.

Baby and mommy

Cheesy, but it works. You’re a music lovin’ baby and we want nothing more than to keep you surrounded by tunes. We took our first family road trip this month and it was challenging but you were so sweet around dozens of new people. You flashed smiles and definitely played the part. And you are a drool machine. It’s hilarious. Looks like we’ll be seeing some teeth soon! Your ezcema is still around and mama is trying a new concoction every month. Nothing seems to work. While I have eliminated most dairy products I still eat a few items with milk in them and so maybe that’s the cause. I don’t know. I’m always blaming myself for something when it comes to you. I want you to have a perfect life. I want the best for you.

Happy baby

Because you deserve it. Don’t tell your Daddy but you’re my best friend. Yep, my almost 5 month old baby is my BFF.

I enjoy every moment with you. Even the 2am bottle feedings. I love our weekend cuddles and Saturday adventures. I love taking you out on walks and watching your face light up when you hear a dog bark. The world amazes you. I no longer feel Working Mommy Guilt. Our time apart isn’t horrible because it allows you to learn in a different environment with a qualified caretaker and it allows mommy to continually work on her craft. I never wanted to loose myself in Mommyhood and guess what? I haven’t! You are #1 in my life but I still have a social life and passions. I am in a great place. In the next month or so we’ll be moving and you’ll be getting your own room…officially. I don’t know though…I still think I want you sleeping in our room. I’m not ready to be so far away from you yet.

Yep, I’m an attached mama. But you…and this face…

Baby with thumb in mouth

It lights up my world.

Keep shinin’, baby. I love you,
Mommy

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 3 Months Old!

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Dear Elle,

You are 3 months old. I type that with tears in my eyes because I remember being 3 months pregnant with you. Technically you have existed for well over a year and I’m just amazed at how perfectly you fit in my life and in this world. It’s true what they say. It does get easier. The first few months of newborn-ing is hard. Sleep deprivation is painful. It’s a physical and emotional kind of pain that I can’t begin to explain. But we are slowly getting past that. I mean, yeah….I am still sleep deprived but I think my body can handle it a lot better. I spend so many days wondering if I am doing everything right. Are these the right bottles? Should I really allow you to sleep on your tummy? Is going back to work the best decision?

There were so many challenges this month but you, me, your daddy…we got through them. Pumping became easier. I stopped crying over the fact that I couldn’t nurse you. I began feeling grateful for being able to have an abundant supply that has not only fed you but has fed 4 other babies up and down the East coast. I knew that financially we couldn’t afford for me to stay home with you so I did the most difficult thing I ever had to do. I put you in someone else’s care.

Oh, but what a blessing she is. Your sitter adores you. She hugs you and kisses you, snuggles you and sings to you. She’s patient and gives you the attention that I would want you to have. She engages you and plays with you. She’s a gift and she made returning to work so much easier for me.

photo (1)

And you? Well you’re no longer my sleep all day and night newborn. Your personality is here and I’m lovin’ it! You are such a morning person. Within seconds of waking up, you get to smiling. You give me these huge smiles that warm my heart. You like music and sounds. Every morning when I’m getting ready, I let you watch a few minutes of Nick Jr on the iPad and you seem so engaged. As if you really know what’s going on. You babble and coo. I love when I talk to you and you coo back at me. Your mouth makes this adorable little O.

You learned how to roll over and hold onto your toys. You enjoy looking at yourself in the mirror and you lift that neck alllll the way up during tummy time. It’s been rough but we’ve been working on a schedule. We try to create routine events so that you know what to expect. You don’t sleep through the night and many people are telling me that just a little formula or rice in your milk will help. I’m avoiding both because I think it’s okay that you aren’t sleeping through the night yet. You’re still young. And it’s okay. Plus, I don’t know what I’d do if you slept 8 hours straight. I’d be freaking out.

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You’re a stylish somethin’. You’ve got so many adorable clothes and you look just as sweet as pie in them. Your hair is growing and your eczema is slowly clearing up. You are so beautiful. So so beautiful. I can’t stop looking at you. Your eyes glow. They are losing some of the gray that they once had and are becoming a sparkling and rich brown. Your eyes are captivating. Your dimples are deep. Your skin is soft and my heart is yours.

Mommy is so excited about all of these milestones, but please…take your time. I am enjoying this stage with you but I don’t want it to fly by too quickly.

Oh and as for me? I’m not losing any weight. I’m not gaining either. I’m not as ravenous so now I’m being a bit more conscious about what I eat – more greens and lean meats. It’s a challenge. Now that I’m back at work I walk a mile a day and go up and down the flights of stairs 3 times a day. I’m trying. I miss the gym but for now I’ll do what I can. Once we get in more of a routine, I’ll see if I can do the gym thing.

photo (2)

Daddy and I are trying. I hope you know that. And we’re so proud of you.

This month you…

-Sucked your thumb
-Sat upright in a Bumbo chair
-Went to work with Mommy and was on your best behavior
-Stopped the startle reflex (we called it the “Help me!”)
-Began singing and coo-ing
-Reached out for your toys

You are a rockstar.

Love you,

Mommy

6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Being A First Time Parent

Baby in a stroller

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a baby post. I was inspired by the blog Baby Sideburns. If you haven’t read that blog, pleeeeease check it out. I love this lady’s approach to parenthood. She keeps it real and doesn’t care what you think about it. I’d much rather read parenting blogs like hers versus the ones that are all like, “I want to raise balanced children and practice attachment parenting, blah blah blah.” Whatever. I like when parents delve into the positives AND negatives of parenting.

So here we go: 6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Being A First Time Parent

 

You really WILL miss being pregnant.

FACT: I didn’t enjoy pregnancy that much. I was practically dying the first 4 months and while 2nd trimester was fun, it flew by. And then 3rd trimester came along and brought back pains, heartburn and anxiety. Don’t listen to those women who are all like, “Pregnancy is soooo wonderful.” They’re lying. They didn’t tell you about the hemorrhoids, spontaneous diarrhea, random rashes, sciatic or insomnia. But the crazy thing is, even after the physical pains of pregnancy and labor/delivery, I actually MISSED being pregnant. It’s as if I forgot about the morning sickness. I missed the lovely things like feeling Elle’s kicks and watching my tummy grow. I missed how powerful I felt. But I really do like my body 1,000x better when I’m not with child because pregnancy will wear your body ouuuuut. Yeah. So while I do want more children (in like 10 years…okay, maybe 5), I want to enjoy my body a bit more before it gets wrecked again.

 

Showers and baths are luxuries.

Actually someone did tell me there would be days when I wouldn’t have time to bathe and I didn’t believe them. But it’s so true! Judge me all you want but my longest stretch without bathing was 4 days. I smelled like fresh breast milk and regurgitated breast milk. And defeat. Yes, defeat has a smell. Sexy, uh? Who really has time for a shower when you’ve got a baby who gets up every hour or two? And when they aren’t sleeping, you’re either trying to stuff your face or you’re standing over their crib watching them breathe. So yeah. For all of you folx without kids and want to know what to get that new mom in your life – save the onesies and burp cloths. Come to her house and watch the baby while she showers. Oh, and bring food. In fact, if you were coming to visit me and Elle during the early weeks, you weren’t allowed in my house without food.

 

A new baby will alter your marriage a bit.

A baby is a new and hard adjustment for a couple. I was physically tired and overwhelmed and while Esposo went to work a week after Elle was born, he was dealing with the guilt of not being around enough WHILE trying to provide for his family. Neither one of us have any family in the area so we had very little help with Elle. Our communication halted because I was an emotional wreck and couldn’t always vocalize when I needed help. In fact, things didn’t get better until months later. So yes, be prepared for what a new baby will do to your marriage.

Falling Elle

 

 You will adapt to having little to no sleep.

I never thought I could do it. I’ve never been one to function without less than 6 hours of sleep. But honey….I am a pro at sleep deprivation now. I will forever toot my own horn because I not only catered to a newborn around the clock but I pumped every 2 hours, maintained a blog, kept the house decent AND had dinner cooked every night. I’m lying about that last part. Y’all know I married Esposo for his cookin’. :cool: But seriously, your body will adapt to the no sleep thing. Oh, and you’ll never sleep in again. Maybe when the kid is 5 or something but yeahhhh….those days of sleeping until 10am are over. Yeah. I cried about it too.

You officially become one of them: A person with a child.

Parenthood is a club. And it really doesn’t feel like that until you become one. Before kids, I was just a person without kids. But now that I’m a parent, my social life is baby based. When friends are all like, “Ooooh, let’s do dinner at 6pm.” I’m all like, “Um no! Elle has to get picked up from the sitter.” Everything I want to do is surrounded around the bebe. And only friends with kids get this. They understand if I’m running 15 minutes behind because even though I was ready to leave Elle had poop seeping out of her diaper and then spewed milk all over her dress. Friends with kids get it. Friends without kids aren’t always so understanding and I get it because I too used to be like “OMG…do your kids control your life?” Actually they do.

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to eat all the time.

I wasn’t the typical pregnant woman. I never had cravings, gained 9 lbs during pregnancy and lost 12 lbs shortly after giving birth. And although I exclusively pump for Elle, I didn’t think I’d deal with the normal breastfeeding woes. Like the ravenous appetite. That appetite is unreal y’all. It’s like, “Feed me now! Feed me everything in sight.” And I get it – pumping/breastfeeding burns a lot of calories but dang, I never expected to eat insane amounts of food. And the crazy thing is, you don’t even care. Like normally I’d be embarrassed about eating so much. Pfft. Whatever. The first time I went to brunch with a gal pal I ordered TWO meals to eat there and then a meal to eat on the way home. Because the 15 minutes it took to get home, I just knew I’d be starving again. True story.

Bonus: Baby blues are real.

I like to consider myself emotionally stable. Haha. Just kidding. I’m a woman. But seriously, I’ve never dealt with depression so I just knew I wouldn’t have an issue with the baby blues. Please. I was an emotional, hot and cold, crying mess for 3 weeks straight. It felt unreal. I’ll never forget the day Esposo and I were chatting and I just burst out into tears. He’s all like, “What’s wrong?” “I don’t knowwwww.” I’m telling him. I was literally crying for no reason. None. This happened frequently. In fact, when I noticed that I hadn’t cried for an entire 3 days, I felt like throwing myself a party. Being a new mom is haaaaard. It just is. You are physically and emotionally overwhelmed ALL the time. You adore your baby but you kinda miss the free life too. You want more help but you want to do everything yourself. You want to be the perfect mom but baby won’t stop crying. You want to poop but that whole “just had a baby” thing makes it difficult. Too much information? Whatever. These things are important to know and I wish someone would have told me. I was glad to know that several other girlfriends also dealt with baby blues and got over it. And those that didn’t went and got professional help.

But through it all, being a Mom is awesome. And fun. Any first time parents out there?

The Secret Life of Exclusively Pumpers

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Since pumping is an enormous part of my life, I figured I would do a post on it. In the baby feeding community, there are 2 kinds of mothers. Those who breastfeed their babies and those that formula feed their babies. Prior to having my own child, I was vehemently against the idea of giving my baby formula. Breast milk isn’t only the best milk but it’s free. There’s no bottle prep. It’s just…there. It’s the easiest option, right?

Wrong.

Breastfeeding is the the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. 9 months of pregnancy and having a natural childbirth was waaaaay easier. I could point my finger at many factors as to why breastfeeding was so difficult for me.

-Lack of knowledge.
-Very little assistance at getting Elle to the breast the hours and days after birth.
-Elle being born 3 weeks early.
-My huge boob + Elle’s small mouth = difficulty.
-Ineffective guidance from a lactation consultant.

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And it wasn’t like I didn’t try. My child had a poor latch. She made plenty of efforts to breastfeed but they didn’t result in her getting enough milk to be satiated. When she did latch, she would not only chew my breast into bits but she would erupt in tears every time. Which only devastated me. Talk about feeling inadequate. Here I am, a new mother, and I can’t even effectively give my child food. And lack of milk wasn’t an option because I was flowin’…

So I decided to enter the Secret World of EP’ing. I call it a secret because you don’t hear many women talking about it. It is perhaps the most difficult track to take when it comes to feeding newborns and infants. With breastfeeding, you just whip out a boob and feed baby. With formula feeding, you (or someone else – BONUS!) prepare a bottle and give it to baby. With exclusively pumping, I have to juggle between not only pumping to get milk but then I also have to find time to feed the baby. It’s a juggling act, really and it was the #1 reason that made the first weeks of motherhood difficult.

In order to keep my supply up, I have to pump to Elle’s schedule. That means I need to pump around the time that she would be eating or more. BUT – since I am back to work, I’d like for her to continue to receive breast milk while at daycare. And so I not only pump enough for her to eat, but I pump enough to freeze. Breast milk stored in a deep freezer has a shelf life of 6-12 months so that means even after I return to work and Elle goes to daycare, she will continue to get breast milk.

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I produce quite a bit of milk so what can’t fit in my freezers is donated to other mommies. That’s right! Thanks to the great community of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, I was able to find 3 mommies who were looking for a donor. These moms have adopted newborns or foster babies that had issues with formula but are thriving off of my breast milk. Some find it to be gross and unsanitary. I think not. In fact, Elle’s first few days of milk came from another mommy who had donated her breast milk to my birthing center.

So let’s rewind…

PRO’S of pumping
-I get to feed my baby breastmilk. I’m very grateful for the electric pump technology.
-I can SEE how much she’s getting and deliver that info to my pediatrician.
-Someone else can feed her which is awesome. Mama needs a break too, yo.
-Unlike formula, a bottle of breast milk can be left out for hours. HUGE pro.
-I can donate to other babies.
-I burn an insane amount of calories and pumping has lead to me being smaller than my pre-preggo weight.

CON’S of pumping
-The judgement I get from exclusive breastfeeders (Why don’t you try harder to make her latch?) and formula feeders (Why don’t you give her a formula bottle?).
-Very little sleep. I have to pump every 3-4 hours and haven’t slept a straight 3-4 hours since Elle has been born.
-It makes social outings difficult. If I will be out for more than 4 hours, my breasts become engorged and painful. I also risk a chance to getting clogged milk ducts which can turn into mastitis which I hear sucksssss. So yeah. My boobs are always on a ticking clock.
-Never-ending bottle washing.
-Pumping can be very lonely. You’re up by yourself in the middle of the night or have to excuse yourself to pump.

Why don’t I just give her formula? It’s simple. I don’t want to. I want her to have breast milk so while pumping is extremely difficult, I plan to only do it for a year. And I’m hoping I can make it to a year because I think about quitting every single day. But hey, everything happens for a reason and while I go through moments of being sad that I couldn’t breastfeed Elle, I am grateful for my abundant supply of milk. I’ve pumped over 31 gallons of breast milk that has nourished 4 children. It feels kinda awesome.

Feel free to drop questions in the comments. And lots of love to my fellow EP’in’ gals for motivating me to write this post!