Quitting pumping is harder than I ever imagined

Pumping has become part of my journey of motherhood. Like motherhood itself, it's nothing like I expected. It's harder. More painful. But also rewarding. Calming and even peaceful sometimes.

Quitting pumping is harder than I ever imagined

When my school year ended, I told myself that was my last day of pumping. Period. My daughter was 18 months old and while she was still breastfeeding, she was eating less often and would also be at daycare less often so I could just start using my freezer stash for those days and voilá! Done with bottles, washing pump parts, hauling the pump bag in—you know, the whole thing.

But I didn't stop.

I couldn't stop.

I pumped the days I took her into daycare to try and get some writing done. I pumped when I was away from her for a week on a business trip. I navigated the complicated—and frankly often ignorant—TSA approach to traveling with breastmilk. I pumped when I started going back into my classroom mid-summer to start the next year of planning.


I simply do not know how to stop.

I've tried going longer and longer through the day, but I still get engorged. And I did the math and calculated that if I did keep pumping when she's away at daycare and I'm at work until at least our first day of school, I would have enough milk to last for daycare bottles until her second birthday. So, there's that. That's sort of addicting in and of itself.

My breastfeeding goal was one year, now it's two and at that point, I will begin the weaning process (so I tell myself) if she doesn't do it first.

So I sit here at work taking two pump breaks a day in between my meetings and planning sessions. I realize this is so inconvenient and I should just stop, but I have come to realize that pumping is as much a labor of love as breastfeeding is.

Maybe it's because for a long part of my life I never saw myself as a mother. Then, when I decided I wanted to be, I was "of advanced maternal age" and it was both physically and mentally difficult for us to conceive. Then, we did and I was elated but also worried about being "old" and wondering if my body was going to cooperate.

And then, after an emergency C-section and a very rocky start to our breastfeeding journey, saved by my miraculous lactation-consultant-turned-dear friend, I was able to not only breastfeed but also pump. I sort of just couldn't imagine stopping for fear that it would all go poof!

Plus, knowing that this is our only child (our little miracle kiddo), stopping the pumping sessions is as challenging as the end of my breastfeeding journey will be because I know this will be the last time I experience this. Any of this.

Don't get me wrong. I hate pumping. It's uncomfortable. It's not really "hands-free" since I have to massage and maneuver and manipulate to get the most out of each session. It takes way more time than anyone who hasn't done it will ever understand. It's messy. There are leaks—from boobs, and bottles, and coolers. Your breasts change size throughout the day and sometimes your breasts and nipples are so sore that even a soft breeze makes you cringe.

While I'm obviously pumping for my daughter, a part of me is also pumping for myself. In those moments when I'm hooked to the pump, and away from my daughter, it makes me feel closer to her. Connected in a way.

I stare at her picture, watch little videos of her, look through old snapshots on my phone. Of course, I would much rather be there with her, but I can't. So pumping, for me, has also been that connection to her in the middle of my workday.

Pumping has become part of my journey of motherhood. Like motherhood itself, it's nothing like I expected. It's harder. More painful. But also rewarding. Calming and even peaceful sometimes.

Truth be told, while a part of me is excited about a future that has no pump parts needing to be washed, another piece of me does not want to let this go. Because it's the beginning of letting go that so many parents have to do as their kids get older. And that's just so hard.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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