Angela Jane Lavender
Water Mixable Oils on Canvas
16" x 24"
Getting my milk to come in at 33 weeks wasn’t what I had planned when it came to nourishing my first born.
I was instructed to pump every three hours for 15-20 mins at a time, day and night. I was also told not to expect anything the first few times I pumped.
The first time I pumped I was hopeful, but I didn’t produce a single drop. I tried not to be discouraged. This is what they said would happen.
The second time, I managed to get a couple drops. I proudly presented the practically empty Medela bottle to the nurse who was checking my stitches and my vitals. She looked at me like I was crazy.
“Uh, NICU staff said that they can put it in a syringe and give it to Henry.” I said with uncertainty.
She took the milk still looking unsure. Was she new? Or was I mistaken?
The third time I pumped I got SEVERAL drops! I was beaming. But I hesitated in giving it to the next nurse... maybe it wasn’t enough?
“Of course I can take it. Every drop counts!” she reassured me.
Days later, I was visiting Henry in the NICU. The doctors were doing their rounds and asked if I had any questions.
“I’m having trouble getting my milk to come in. I’m still under an ounce. It doesn’t feel like enough.”
“Are you pumping for 15-20 minutes at a time?” the doctor asked.
“Every three hours?” she persisted.
“Yup” Of course, I thought.
“Even at night?” she said as she raised her eyebrows.
(What a condescending little...) “Yes.” I said slowly as I nodded my head.
I was immediately filled with rage. How dare she? Of course I am. It’s the ONLY thing I can do for my baby. I can’t hold him. I can’t change his diapers. I can’t nurse him. I can’t help him breathe. I am obviously pumping every three hours. I set my alarm and hook myself up to a machine that chafes me and drains me of what little supply I have. I’m doing the best I can!
I don’t remember how long it took, how many times I pumped, but eventually my body responded like clockwork. At the three hour mark I was engorged. I couldn’t even pump for the full 15-20 minutes because after 10, the Medela bottles were practically overflowing.
My mother bought me an Ameda double electric pump and I ended up producing so much milk that one of the nurses in the NICU suggested that I donate my supply.
I was eventually able to stop pumping at night and nurse Henry for nine months.
I am so grateful to Ameda, Medela and gavage feeding. My pumping journey wasn’t my plan. But when has anything in motherhood ever gone as planned?
-Featuring Amanda, Maxx and Oaklee-