Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Boobinator

Before I had my first child I had certain ideas about the type of mother I would be. 

In the case of the newly pregnant, ignorance is not only bliss, but it also gives you a warm, rosy glow of self-righteousness that you don't actually realise is self-righteousness.  You just think you are 'being a good mother'.

Breastfeeding was one of those things for me.  When I had my baby, I would breastfeed.  It would come naturally, it would be easy, and my baby would love me for it.

I was wrong.

I think I lasted about four days in hospital before my battered, bleeding and blistered breasts meant I joined the group of new mums who could be seen poking their heads out of their rooms, scanning the hall, and making a dash for the nearest breast pump before rolling it back into the sanctuary of their room.

Once inside, and all the tubes and bottles and cords were connected, I would sit, every three hours, as I pumped milk for my baby.  Modestly covered with a shawl, and refusing to express if I had visitors, I would do this for two weeks before my breasts healed sufficiently to attempt putting the baby back on the breast.

When my next baby was born, I lasted about two days before the damage to my breasts prompted even the most hardened midwife to grimace involuntarily.  The day I pumped 20ml of pure blood without realising was a low point to be sure, and soon enough my baby was used to drinking pink tinged milk.  Less modest this time around, I would walk around the room with the pump going, sometimes forgetting to cover up when visitors came. But once I was discharged from hospital and made it through the laser therapy, mastitis and staph infection, expressing six times a day for ten weeks, things went smoothly.

You see, when I was pregnant with Baby Number One, a friend mentioned that a newborn needs to be fed up to eight times a day, and a feed can take up to an hour. I'm good at maths so I quickly figured out that this breastfeeding business would take as much time each day as a full-time job. Just spread rather inconveniently over a whole day. What? AND the night as well? Must be a design-flaw.

To add expressing into the mix, you can double this time commitment.  Not only do you have to sit and express, but then you have to feed the baby as well!  Once you have done all the washing up and sterilising, you have time to pee and you are back again in the chair expressing again.

So you can imagine this time, things were going to be different.

And again, I was wrong.

With Baby Number Three, hereafter Baldy Baby, I lasted approximately one day before bursting into tears and declaring it was too painful.  The midwife who was with me at the time, backed away telling me that she 'doesn't do tears' before tossing a tissue box at my head and scurrying away. 

So I joined the hall-crawlers again.  Slugging through the hall in my PJs, eyes scanning for the good expressing machines. It wouldn't take long before you figured out different machines each had their own personality, and they were in hot demand. When you spend 20 minutes to express 1.2ml of colostrum, trust me, you develop a relationship with that machinery.

I returned home hopeful that Baldy Baby would be back on the breast, but after bleeding all over her head on the first night, having another tear-fest, and feeling like a failure, I pulled out my secret weapon.

I call it the Boobinator.
Do you like the black bar for added privacy?  I hope I don't offend anyone or fall foul of the censors!

A supersonic, electronic, hands-free, battery-operated, extra efficient double-pumping expressing machine, imported from the old US of A, and generously donated by my sister.

Seriously, look at this thing.  I feel like one of the FemmeBots from Austin Powers, shooting milk out of my breasts.  It moos like a cow every time it pumps, which is highly appropriate, and while my husband pretends not to notice me when I am strapped into this piece of technology you need a physicist and two engineers to get you into, the girls just think it's fabulous.  I dread to think what the Bombshell is telling people at Pre-Primary...

So while I am still not quite the natural, free earth mother, swanning around in white robes breastfeeding her baby yet, I am certainly on my way and Baldy Baby won't be starving while the Boobinator is providing for her.

And if you're wondering about the appropriateness of my putting a picture like this on the internet (and I am probably going to regret it), and you're asking 'what would her mother think?'... let me just say: who do you think took the picture?


  1. What a piece of machinery! How DID you put it on!?! If your Mum is anything like mine, these types of breast pumps wouldn't have been around when she has her kids, and she'll be quite fascinated by it! There's nothing quite like feeling like a cow is there :)

    1. If I were more technologically savvy I would put a sound clip on... It really does mooo like a cow when I pump. Surely a little in-joke by the manufacturer. Probably a male.

  2. Oh my Shann! that is an impressive piece of machinery! Good on you for persevering through what sounds like horrendous experiences with bf ing... I think if I saw blood ONCE i would be done....

  3. Oh Shan, well done. I became well acquainted with a very similar machine when the small boy was very small. And was at one stage taking over 16 hours per day to express and clean the machine, feed baby and clean bottles, etc etc (including breastfeeding him in between all this then setting my alarm to pump an hour or so later even in the middle of the night), all due to low supply. He also got used to drinking what I preferred to name "strawberry milk". Good on you, hope it all heals fast and beautifully and life can go back to the new normal. xx

    1. PS I forgot to mention how fab I think it is that your lovely Mum took the pic :-)

  4. Not at all offended by the picture, I think it adds to the humor of these tough times. I'm impressed you are persevering with the breast pump, after 4 days of trying to extract milk from my dry boobs I ended up going out buying formula but I don't regret it. I love how your story describes the realism of breastfeeding rather than the sugar coated version you get in the prenatal classes.

  5. Your dedication to breast feed astounds me, you're freaking amazing!! The booinator is slightly terrifying, but if is doing the trick, God love it. The pic isn't offensive in the slightest by the way. Good luck with it all...

  6. Love that you're pushing thourhg. Strenght that's for sure!

  7. All mothers-to-be should read this story. Not to put them off but to give them a truthful insight into what could be expected. You're incredible. Offended? Not at all. Slightly aroused? Maybe.

    1. Really? Maybe we should talk :-)

      But thankyou for the support. It's true, not everyone has an easy breastfeeding experience. That being said, most mums won't have the same dramas my boobs have put me through and if you can manage it, breastfeeding is a wonderful experience.

  8. What a woman! So impressed Shan, it is so bloody hard and you are amazing. All the best mate. Liz x

  9. Huge hugs...I've been there with my dd, and it is like torture...sleep deprivation plus kids to entertain while being wired up like Daisy in the dairy. Have you found an IBCLC? Hunt one took me four babies to give in and decide to pay for a pro to look at me, but it saved my sanity and my daughter's life...worth every penny. And meanwhile, know that you are amazing. Even when you are going insane, whimpering, snarling, falling asleep standing up are amazing...

  10. Genius. As someone whose second baby would scream blue murder if I tried to offer him one of my bursting boobs(the ultimate rejection!), I too became a milk cow, strapping myself into a double barreled Heath Robinson machine (that was no match to yours I have to say). To add insult to my injured (and stretched out) boobs, I also had to suffer the indignity of my then 2 and 1/2 year old son gleefully experimenting with different levels of suction while my hands were engaged keeping the bottles from jiggling out of the connector(an experience that clearly established an early and, 7 years on, continued fixation with boobs). Love your writing, keep going, humour is a mum's greatest asset

  11. Thanks Tess

    I must admit there were days I could not be bothered with all the extra straps and whatnots, so I would just stick the cup things in my bra and hope they would stay there. It would be fine until one of the girls came by and wanted to press buttons on the machine, then all hell would break loose and someone, usually me, would inevitably end up covered in milk...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...