“How much did you pump?” Chris asked, as he passed me in the kitchen this morning.
“270 ml,” I responded, while tipping out the last few drops of milk into a bottle before dumping all my pump parts into a bowl to wash.
Our nanny’s eyes widened. “You just pumped 270 ml in one session?! Yvonne, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were a cow! That’s like 8 ounces!”
“Actually, that’s 9 ounces,” Chris said.
I told her that was relatively normal for my first morning pump since it’s all the milk that had accumulated overnight, as I no longer do a middle of the night pump. But we’d come a long, long way from my early days of struggling to even get 30 ml / 1 ounce per pump session.
I recalled the times early on when I just didn’t understand the concept of “supply and demand” with milk supply, when I didn’t realize my baby wasn’t sucking hard enough on my breasts to create a proper “demand.” Those days, I was lucky to get even 30 ml per pump session. I pumped so little milk that after refrigerating the milk to combine with other pumps, Chris would try to consolidate the milk, and to get every drop and fat residual on the sides of the pump bottles loosened, he’d run our hot water tap over the outside of the bottles like a crazy person. But he ran so much hot water over the bottles to get every last drop of breast milk that one day, the hot water tap tank actually ran out, and so we had to wait for the water to refill and get heated again. It was a hilarious moment when he told me this. But on the other hand, I felt really embarrassed and ashamed that I was producing so little then that he felt like he had to get every last smidgen of milk possible to feed our baby. That also reminded me of how I used to cry and blame myself, erroneously thinking I actually had low milk supply because of my own body as opposed to lack of sufficient demand.
So, I remember those painful and emotional moments when my nanny praises me now, not only for how diligently and on schedule I pump, but for how much I am producing to feed my baby. Like the concept of “you should never trust a skinny chef,” she said she used to think that if a woman had small boobs, she’d never produce much milk to feed her baby. Apparently, I proved her wrong with that since she always tells me that I am a small woman with tiny boobs but a ton of milk!
Most moms already would have given up on pumping by now, my nanny always says. “But you still keep going,” she’s said to me a few times. “That shows how much you love your baby. It is an extremely selfless act. Your baby will never understand this until she one day becomes a mother and tries to breastfeed her own babies. Even other women who don’t have kids don’t get it.”