If you heard about the first three days when we started out in this journey, you’ll be amazed we made it this far, today and still counting.
On my third day of breastfeeding, I freaked out at the sight of blood coming out of my daughter’s mouth and well, my boob. This scene as I distinctly remember it got my husband saying, “Bampira na ang anak natin,” at one point. Seriously though, I was freaking out deep inside of me thinking- I CANNOT FAIL IN BREASTFEEDING. I WANT TO DO THIS.
(Just a clarification: My daughter was able to get my colostrum, if you were worrying, because we (I thought) fairly had a smooth three days before I started feeling the immense pain brought about by our wrong latch.)
But how? How then?
Formula milk wasn’t on my list of options, and luckily, I had a sister-in-law who was breastfeeding too and had just given birth three months ahead of me. While I know her milk isn’t really tailored fit for my newborn baby who was just 3 days old, I swallowed my pride and asked for milk for Aiyah. We asked for her milk for 2 more days- while I tried to breastfeed Aiyah once or twice a day on my then, still healing and recovering breasts.
As soon as my nipples healed, my white milk came. And then began our journey.
The challenge of using the pump
When we got over Aiyah’s lip tie and “perfected” our latch, the bigger challenge of continuing the journey I committed myself to, took me by surprise. I didn’t realize what I was getting into would entail so much hardwork, discipline, patience and yes, as I just said- commitment.
I knew it wasn’t impossible to do (given the nature of my work), because I have seen and I know fellow journalist moms who have successfuly breastfed. But I didn’t realize it would be that hard until I did it myself.
First up- the challenge to pump anywhere and everywhere. Literally, I have expressed milk while covering press conferences, doing interviews, in between live reports, in hallways, on the road and while having my makeup done. I let go of all my apprehensions and covered my eyes and ears from seeing and hearing any violent reaction from the people around me who raised eyebrows on how I chose to continue my journey. As soon as I don on that nursing cover and fix my stuff for another session, I am deaf and blind from criticisms. I don’t explain why I don’t pump in restrooms, (because we shouldn’t be pumping there anyway) or why I pump milk even while walking or interviewing people. After all, I don’t have to explain why I’m being a Mom in this way.
But I guess the most challenging part of using the pump is the discipline and patience to regularly do it, despite and amidst my schedules. Since returning back to work in April 2015, I have religiously pumped milk every 2-3 hours while at work. Never mind if I was covering a storm, a rally or a big personality. Never mind what I was doing- I would drop anything and everything when the time for expressing my milk comes. I religiously express milk on time, I have only missed once (expressed in 4hrs instead of 2 to 3), and strictly followed my schedule to the dot.
I guess this part of my journey is one of the biggest factors why we have succeeded in breastfeeding the last 13 months. It hasn’t been easy but it has always been worth it.
Choosing to be Mom than Diva Journalist
The past year, I have also intentionally declined major coverages and assignments as part of my commitment to continue breastfeeding. Truth be told, I have never gone on an out of town assignment since, or slept without my daughter beside me at night. I have never stayed beyond 8pm at work, and make up for the hours we’re not together by unlilatching.
This choice of mine has given me quite a hard time personally and many times, emotionally. It has git me thinking if I deserved to be here because I’m no longer giving my 100% at work. It has got me questioning my capabilities- once upon a time I was this very sure, aggressive journalist who wanted to be on top and would run head to head against competition for a story.
But now, all I want is to finish early and come home to my baby so I can directly feed her and so she can also help me maintain my supply.
Since April, it is only recently that I have agreed (again) to (quite) long coverages and hours at work. I am still testing thr waters if I can let go a little now that Aiyah’s eating solids more frequently and she’s turned 1 already.
So far, this part of our journey has resulted to my depleting supply. I used to pump 7-8oz from both breasts, down to 6oz, and now down to 2oz per session for both breasts already. That is so little, because I need to leave her 15oz of milk to last her a full day I’m gone (including overtime). So what I do is pump even more, a little bit more to make up for what I need to leave behind.
The only difference now is, I’m being kinder to myself and easier on the pressure. I don’t stress about the supply because anyway, Aiyah eats a lot while I’m away too.
But I’m still that mom who would choose to drop anything and everything just to come home and unlilatch. That has been the secret to our 13months of breastfeeding. This tandem we got is the secret why we have succeeded the last 13 months- and why we will succeed in the next few months more, until she weans herself and lets me go.