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The Hamster Wheel of Pumping

I love breastfeeding. I really do. But I can't help but sometimes feel like it's a blessing and a curse at the same time.

I love looking at my daughter, her big plump cheeks, her thunder thighs, and her multiple rolls and smile -- knowing I did all of that. But at the same time every day I have a huge weight on my shoulders, feeling like her livelihood is dependent on my diligence.

Of course part of this is very true. I am her mother, I provide and care for her, I feed her and I'm raising her along with my husband. I am responsible for her.. But the pressure when I'm away from her at work, dealing with other duties, but still setting aside time to pump for her is getting overwhelming.

Before I leave for work I make sure my husband knows where our daughter's milk is for the day. Four out of five days of the week I have fresh milk for her, pumped from the day before (the other day I rotate frozen milk). There have been occasions where I haven't pumped enough the day before. Either I didn't have time at work to get in an extra session, or I just didn't pump enough. Then he pulls from our freezer stash, per my instruction, using the oldest first.

This hasn't had to happen on a regular basis but it has happened from time to time. And on each occurrence, it's caused me to have a slight breakdown.

In order to have enough milk for the following day I have to pump twice. At best it takes me 20 minutes from set up to take down with double pumping at work, and I feel like a slacker for being couped up in the makeup room twice a day, plus still taking my lunch break to go home and nurse her.

One day I wasn't able to make it home to feed her and found she ate the same amount I had stored in the fridge anyway. It may have been a fluke but I wonder if I take my lunch break to pump if it might be more efficient.

Right now I pump once at work then once before I go home, after my shift, or if Little J is already asleep, once when I get home from work.

After a day of hardly being able to pump my supply took a hit and it took some extra pumping to get it back up but I worry about having to do that often. I don't think I have the patience or the time. I feel like my worth is tied to how much milk I'm expressing and it's really getting to me.

I don't want to have to turn to supplements, or extra pumping sessions in the middle of the night. I've loved our breastfeeding relationship, and I don't want to lose that to the stress of playing keep up.

Now I am getting a little ahead of myself. Right now I'm doing great. My goal was to breastfeed through maternity leave. Once I started trying and saw how well that was working I made it my goal to exclusively breastfeed for three months. Now that I've achieved that goal I'm hoping to exclusively breastfeed until Little J starts solids.

Then, I picture myself able to give a huge sigh of relief. I sustained my baby on my own, and I can relax a bit more knowing she'll be getting a little something from her fruits and veggies too.

It's not easy being a mom, exclusively breastfeeding, and it can get even more difficult when you add pumping and working full time into the mix. But I know it's worth it for my daughter, and the responsibility I feel has gotta be a good thing, because it's gotten us this far, and it's gotten her this many rolls to show for it.