After nursing five babies, I never imagined I would have a sixth baby who simply could not nurse. I worked on it for WEEKS, went to several appointments with lactation consultants and the answer was the same: Keep trying, but keep giving her bottles because she was not transferring enough milk to survive.
Now Rebecca is two and a half months old and I am providing 100% of her nutrition by pumping breast milk. If you are in this situation, or even if you just pump occasionally, I just wanted to offer some encouragement. About a month into this system I met a mom who had done the same thing for four out of her nine children. She told me that she redeemed the time by using it for many purposes, such as phone calls, Bible study, checking email and the like. That got me thinking. Part of the reason pumping seemed so hard all the time, was that I felt trapped in the bathroom for hours pumping, and doing little else. Usually one or more of the boys was getting into trouble while they were waiting on me to finish. Now, I have a plan for each pumping session throughout the day. I purchased a hands-free nursing bra so that I could pump and be completely covered so the boys can come and go while I am pumping and I am still modest. My hands are also free to be able to handle other details. Here is my plan:
First Session (and my longest session, usually 30 minutes): Bible Study, then Bible reading and memory work. I decided since I am going to be pumping for a year I would really challenge myself mentally so I have been working through memorizing a book of the Bible, one verse at a time. At first, it was tough because I am tired in the morning, but once I got going, I really am eager to do this time, so waking up early is actually easier.
Second Session (20 minutes) I fix my hair and put on my make-up. If this is not a day I am wearing make-up, I still do basic grooming and put some moisturizer on my face and hands.
Third Session (20 minutes) Business Email and Business phone calls. I have been dismally behind on both since having the baby, so I am often just hitting the most urgent ones on these.
Fourth session (20 minutes) I try to read something. I have a stack of magazines, several devotionals, and some prayer books that I keep in a bag in my pumping area. Depending on my mood or energy level I will choose which one I want.
Fifth session (20 minutes) I use my Kindle for reading, watching Netflix, or surfing webpages.
Sixth Session (20 minutes) Paperwork and Bills
Seventh Session (30 minutes) Watch a Netflix show with Duncan and the Girls.
The great thing is that now that I have a plan for each session, the time moves much quicker, and I actually look forward to my pumping sessions.
For my two-year-old, I brought a Lincoln Log set in the room with me that he can use during my pumping time. He can sit on the floor near me and play with them and enjoy them. When the time is up, we put them away for the next time. Sometimes he will bring a few little Thomas the Train pieces or a few toy cars to play. Sometimes he is glad to stay with his siblings.
I have large mirrors in my bathroom, so using Crayola glass crayons I wrote my memory verses for the week across the mirror, so I can review it each time I pump.
The really cool thing about redeeming this time is that I made a list of all the things I wanted to do that I was falling behind on, and rather than just being frustrated, I was able to schedule a few minutes each day to take care of many of those things. Starting my day with scripture study and memory work has had a wonderful effect on my mental and spiritual state as well.