If you told me during my pregnancy that I would have to do a triple feed program on my baby, a) I would have had zero idea what you were referring to, and b) I’d probably respond with something ignorant like, “but I’m planning to breastfeed!” I didn’t realize that “combo feeding,” or breastfeeding *and* formula feeding, was a thing; I just thought you chose one path or the other. I had no idea that “exclusive pumpers” or moms who pump milk and feed it to their babies via a bottle was a thing. I always just thought people pumped milk for their babies when they could not physically be there (as in, they’re going back to work). I didn’t know that “breastfeeding” referred to both nursing *as well as* bottle feeding breast milk. I really didn’t know much about any of this stuff at all despite having taken an online breastfeeding course from a reputable source, as well as reading endless articles and blogs on breastfeeding. I thought “latch” was the key to ensuring breastfeeding success; I had no idea what poor milk transfer meant. I had no idea that inadequate milk removal, either via a baby’s sucking or a breast pump, could torpedo your milk supply, nor did I fully understand the “supply and demand” process that a new mom’s milk supply would be determined by.
I really didn’t understand any of this, and I’m scrambling to read and learn more about it all now, which may be too late to recover my milk supply. I have no idea. But I guess that’s what it means to be a mom: always doubting yourself, always feeling like you’re failing or that you are inadequate, always feeling like you can do more. There are social media memes for pumping moms, saying that you shouldn’t measure your love in ounces (of milk), but somehow, that’s how I’m feeling about myself and my crappy output via this breast pump I feel like I am a slave to.
The job of a mother never ends; it doesn’t end when you shut down your computer for the day or close out Slack or put your phone on silent. It literally goes on 24 hours a day with no break. It feels like the little “me” time I have is in the shower, massaging or stretching my arms and hands, and even looking out the window to take deep breaths and remind myself that I’m doing the best job I can despite the little sleep I am getting. I hate pumping, but pumping is the only way I can ensure my baby gets breast milk, so the pumping journey continues.