I've been pumping for a few days now, and it has its ups and downs.
It's comforting to see life-giving milk come out of me. It's comforting to see my body go through the full cycle from pregnancy through delivery to breastfeeding. I've nursed six kids already, so my body knows that this is how things are supposed to happen. Breastfeeding/pumping helps the uterus to contract after giving birth. That's healing. For me, this is something that feels right amidst everything else that feels so wrong right now. Hopefully Mila's milk can be donated somewhere and give life to a baby in need.
Pumping gives me phantom baby feelings, in a good way. I like imagining what Mila would be drinking. It makes me feel more like her mommy. It's Mila's milk, I tell the kids. When it's almost time to pump again, I feel like "the baby is about to wake up." In between pumping, I feel like "the baby is sleeping" & I can relax a bit. I like feeling like I just had a baby. Coco even says the pump sounds like Mila's breathing. That makes me smile. I'm not the only one imagining that Mila is here with us.
Pumping forces me to stick to a routine schedule. It forces me to act like I just had a baby. We went to Soak City today, as promised for Auri's birthday, but we only stayed for a couple of hours and then went back home, because Mommy needed to pump. I just gave birth a few days ago. I should be sitting, resting, and nursing a baby around the clock, not getting up and moving on. The pumping schedule forces me to sit down and rest and think about things throughout the day. It prevents me from being too active.
Since I'm not actually feeding a baby round the clock, I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump. I can instead sleep and get plenty of rest. With all my phantom baby feelings, I put pressure on myself to stick strictly to a pumping schedule, but really, there is no actual baby who needs me. Mila is not here with us to cry and fuss if I don't feed her in time. She doesn't need me anymore, but my husband and six other kids do need me. So I have the freedom to loosen up and go off schedule if something comes up.
In all honesty, I like that I smell like breast milk, even though it's kind of stinky. But that's what a mom who just had a baby is supposed to smell like.
There's also a lot of disappointment that has come with pumping. I'm comparing pumping this time around to pumping when Roman was in the NICU 11 years ago. I was producing 32 oz a day, and since he was a preemie I pumped super high-fat milk, which enabled me to bounce back and lose my baby weight much more quickly. I expected that since Mila was also a preemie, that the pumping would have the same effect it did 11 years ago. But this is 11 years later. I am 11 years older. And pumping in honor of a dead baby is just not the same as pumping for your healthy, albeit tiny, baby 2 miles away in the NICU. I expected my milk to come in by day 4, and in abundance, just like it did with Roman. It didn't, though. Try as I may, I cannot trick myself into thinking that my baby is still alive. So here I am spending hours of my day pumping, with sore breasts, trying so hard to go through all the motions of having just had a baby, and really not seeing the fruit of it.
My body stored up a lot of extra fat during pregnancy with the expectation of one day feeding that growing baby, and now, post partum, it has no baby to go to. All of that fat is still hanging out on me. I catch a glimpse of my reflection, and I break down into tears. I despise my body and the way I look in the mirror. This is the heaviest I have ever been in life. I'm hoping that by pumping, I can get rid of some of that stored fat, but I have such a long road ahead.
The plan is to pump for 3 months. I will focus on healing during that time. Physical healing. Emotional healing. Processing all that just took place. Making sure I don't hide things in my heart and allow bitterness and resentment to take root. It means I won't be able to have a fun, normal summer, but this is not a fun, normal time in life, and I want to acknowledge that and let it linger for a bit and allow the Lord to work through me whatever it is He is wanting to work through me in all of this. I hope to be a changed person, a more sanctified person, a more compassionate person. I don't want to walk through something like this and just be the same old Delia.