Getting pregnant is one of those life events that sets a lot of other things into motion, whether you like it or not. A lot of these things are obvious: you anticipate the purchase of an insane amount of baby gear; you attempt to find a creative way to announce the pregnancy; you daydream with a hint of trepidation about all the ways your life is about to change.
When you also have a career, there are a few additional items on the to-do list. You start looking into your employer’s maternity leave policy and plan how much recovery time to take. Before he’s even born, you begin to mourn the time spent away from your baby while you’re at work.
And if you hope to breastfeed, figuring out how to feed your baby becomes a logistical nightmare.
The invention of the breast pump has revolutionized breastfeeding and offered freedom to women who wish to breastfeed and also occasionally be apart from their babies for any length of time. But in exchange for this freedom, you get to feel like a dairy cow and have to mess with pump parts, sterilization, refrigeration, and the difficulty of finding places that are even remotely private to do the deed.
I was dubious about both pumping and breastfeeding, but proceeded with the plan with the cautious optimism every brand new mom possesses before those first labor pains double you over.
With my first baby, hours after she was born, I was visited by a lactation consultant in the hospital. She asked me my goals for breastfeeding. I answered honestly: I was hoping for a year, but realistically I was shooting to make it six months.
She looked at me with disdain. “You need to make it a year,” she admonished.
I was immediately deflated but determined to continue to give it a shot. The consultant inspected my daughter’s latch and assured me my baby was doing it right, and insisted that when she was latched correctly, it wouldn’t hurt at all.
Well, it hurt like hell. So much so that I used a shield the entire time she nursed. When she up and quit breastfeeding at 3.5 months, I think I cried harder than she did. I felt like such a failure. Her nursing refusal felt like a personal affront to me going back to work when she was six weeks old, and I just knew I was condemning her to thousands of hours of therapy, working through the trauma inflicted by having a mom who worked.
I pumped exclusively for another couple of months, using the hand-me-down pump I had been gifted by a friend. But each pumping session was cloaked in self-loathing and extreme disappointment.
The whole experience was one big let down. Pun intended.
Having my son felt like I was being gifted a giant bouquet of second chances. The Air Force had extended its maternity leave policy from six weeks to twelve glorious weeks. I was exempted from physical fitness assessments and deployments for 12 months after delivery, instead of only six months.
And Tricare covered breast pumps. Glory be.
The lactation consultant who visited after my son was born helped me set more realistic expectations for how much it would hurt at first, and she gave me practical ways to make sure he was latched correctly. When I struggled with oversupply, she gave me her personal number and talked me through troubleshooting strategies. She never judged my goals, which were to 1) successfully keep breastfeeding after returning to work, and 2) make it to six months. She helped us get set up for success, and I owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude.
I feel the same way about The Breastfeeding Shop.
My OB had been prepared to help me get a breast pump through the Durable Medical Equipment clinic. She placed the consult, and I was called by a supplier who gave me the choice between two breast pump models, neither of which I had ever heard of. The wind in my sails about Tricare-covered pumps was quickly getting sucked out by this arduous process.
Things were looking bleak until I came upon a thread in a Facebook group for military moms about The Breastfeeding Shop. I checked out its website and found that the company would ship me my choice of pump and include all the accessories I needed. It seemed to good to be true…
…but it wasn’t.
I took the printable prescription form to my next OB appointment, where my doctor gladly signed it. I uploaded the form to the website using my phone, and selected the Spectra S1 pump. And TWO DAYS LATER it arrived on my doorstep.
A couple months later, I got an email prompting me to order another pack of accessories (bottles, flanges, tubing, storage bags). I did just that, and they shipped free, every bit as quickly as my original order had.
The pump was exactly what I needed. It gave me the freedom to do the job I loved and continue to feed my baby in the manner I felt was our best fit. By giving me the pump, The Breastfeeding Shop gave me that freedom. I am so grateful to this wonderful company for making this piece of the working mom’s puzzle so easy.
Bless them. We mothers can use all the help we can get.