Double Pumping

Kit is still pumping to feed Molly. I hope Kit will forgive me if this is too personal, but Kit has taken untold steps to feed Molly breast milk over the last couple of months, and I wanted to recognize her heroic effort.

Due to her long hours on the job and Molly’s physiology, Kit has not been able to simply nurse Molly. It sounds like such a simple idea to breast feed, but several weeks of serious frustration, worrying, and discomfort on Kit and Molly’s part showed how difficult it can really be. Molly was not gaining enough weight and simply had to have some formula, but Kit was still spurred on to feed Molly as much breast milk as possible.

It may be a surprise to the uninitiated, but this whole breastfeeding topic is so full of controversy that it makes Republicans and Democrats look tame. Kit is no “breastfeeding nazi” by any means. In fact, she is often put off by the guilt-tripping attitude of the breastfeeding crowd. But this fall’s seasonal flu and N1H1 outbreaks, which can be deadly to infants, inspired Kit to get Molly her breast milk. Kit was dismayed by the exaggerated claims of the breastfeeding crowd, so as a scientist herself, she did a literature search on the topic. She saw nothing compelling about breast milk helping with intelligence or obesity, but she did find a credible scientific article suggesting that breast milk might objectively might help fight off sickness to some extent. The amount of help is not fully understood, and of course nothing is guaranteed, but just that glimmer of hope was enough for Kit find another way to get Molly her breast milk.

What resulted was pumping — lots and lots of pumping. Kit has never really complained about it, but her pumping regimen has been a tough haul. Kit is often up at 5:00 am, sometimes earlier, to pump before work. And then she comes home at 6:30 and heads straight up to pump. Dinner time usually involves Claire and I eating dinner together while Kit is off performing the grotesque ritual of pumping, and Molly (the sleepyhead) is napping. Kit shows up some 30-45 minutes later with a few ounces of breast milk in two plastic bottles, and then we warm up her stale dinner while I got Claire ready for bed. The whole thing was pretty disruptive to our whole family routine, especially for Kit. Early on, when Kit was still on maternity leave, she was actually pumping about 10 times a day, and each session took around 30-45 minutes. And then there is the cleaning, the endless cleaning. There are eight pieces that need to be hand cleaned and steam sterilized in the microwave each time Kit pumps, each piece having odd corners, flaps, and hard to reach areas. Admittedly, this one affects me the most, so I had to get it in here.

Through all of this, Kit must feel like a cow, a very sore cow. And she is a cow (I mean a mom) who has gone to great lengths for her calf (I mean baby) just in case it helps. The good news is that something is working because Molly has not gotten a common cold yet, much less the flu, even after weeks of day care. The breast milk may have had something to do with that. I would also give credit to hand washing. Thankfully, Molly’s school is full of hand washing nazis.

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