Tag Archives: pump and dump

Breastfeeding: Where Perfect is the Enemy of Good

When I was in business school, I had a classmate and friend named Josh, with whom I worked on every group project. Fortunately for me, he is one of those people who will always tell you the truth about yourself. He called me Captain, and if I were sugar-coating it I would say this name came from my demonstrated leadership abilities, but in honor of Josh, I’ll shoot you straight and tell you it was probably because I’m bossy.

Anyway. One day, we were arguing about what needed to be done on something we were working on, and I wanted to do more, more, more. And Josh looked at me witheringly and said, “Captain, your problem is that you let perfect be the enemy of good.”

I’ll admit it took me a solid 36 hours to understand what he even meant by this. Because in my mind, perfect has always, ALWAYS been the thing to strive for. Especially when it was something measurable, with grades, scores, rankings, or numbers of any kind. But when I did finally get it, it changed my life.

This tendency toward perfectionism and neurotic need-to-measure-itis came into full flower when I had my first child. Breastfeeding was something I could be perfect at, if I just worked at it hard enough. And it was something so rife with measurables, I was practically giddy with anticipation. Ounces (of milk pumped or fed, and gained by the baby, and frozen in the freezer). Feedings per day. Hours of sleep at a stretch. Weeks until baby slept through the night. Count count count. Measure measure measure.

And then there was the “Exclusive Breastfeeder” badge.

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How to Make Milk in Nepal

When my son was 5 months old, I left him. I packed my bags and ran away to Nepal.

Ok, it wasn’t THAT dramatic, but in the car on the way to the airport, for my first post-baby business trip, it felt pretty damned dramatic. Like, soul-being-ripped-from-body dramatic. I spent the ride begging my best friend, who was driving me, to turn around and take me back to my boy. (Being the good kind of best friend, she did not comply.)

Making matters worse? Breastfeeding, of course. 5 months in, my son was taking an enormous (way above average) amount of milk every day across six feedings. So I had a two-part problem if I wanted to continue exclusively breastfeeding him:

1. Build up a freezer stash of 300 ounces of milk before I left. (7 days x 40+ ounces)
2. Keep up my supply for the duration of my trip.

I accomplished #1 by pumping every morning immediately after I fed my son, starting at about 4 weeks after he was born. I was obsessive about this milk. I’d wake up at night and creep to the kitchen to stand in the cold light of the freezer and count my milk. I was nuts. (In hindsight: the boy could’ve had a wee bit of formula.)

Continue reading How to Make Milk in Nepal