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Sleep Deprivation and Other Methods of Torture

Because you asked for it.


Just about nine years ago today, I peed on a stick, and two lines appeared. Positive. A time that I ordinarily would have been overjoyed. But my mother lay in the next room, dying of cancer.

I really don’t know if she was cognizant enough to understand when I told her that she was finally, at long last, going to be a grandmother.

She squeezed my hand. I’d like to believe that she understood. One week later, on St. Patricks Day, she died.

I didn’t allow myself time to mourn. There was too much to be done. And there was a new life to consider. I didn’t want to risk another miscarriage. So, I carried on. Later that year, my Emme was born.

I think that my pregnancy was a gift from God. All in His timing. Because that pregnancy was the only thing that kept me going. Kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

I vowed to do everything right. I got off caffeine. Which nearly killed me. I was determined to breast feed. And I boasted that I would deliver her naturally. As in, without the benefit of drugs. Oh, and no TV before the age of 2.

(cue the crickets)

A good plan. Naive. But good.

After labor was induced, because of elevated blood pressure, I was demanding an epidural. And a pop tart. In that order.

I’m not a screamer during the throws of labor. Quiet, angry indignation would better describe my demeanor.

Which is much scarier.

I got my epidural. And I believe I told the anesthesiologist that I loved him. For the next two subsequent births, I entered the hospital wearing a sign which read, “Administer epidural at once.” In case I should be rendered incoherent for any reason. I wanted to take no chances.


Following Emme’s birth, I fell into a very deep depression. Breast feeding was extremely difficult. I was certain that I was starving my child. I was also sure that my nipples were going to spontaneously combust. Fiddledaddy did the research, and got me a Medela Breast Pump. The deluxe model. This, I hoped, would aid in milk production.

I should have invested in a cow.

I pumped all the time. In my delusionary, sleep deprived state, I would sit in my barcalounger recliner, attached to the pump, and the sound that the pump made, seemed to whisper to me, “You’re a lousy mother. You’re a lousy mother. You’re a lousy mother. You’re a lousy mother.” Ad nauseum.

But, the pump also whispered, “The chicken is dead. The chicken is dead. The chicken is dead.”

It was hard to know what to believe.

Emme weaned herself at 5 months. I was determined that she would only have breast milk the first year of her life. So, I kept pumping. For 7 months.

I grew to hate that breast pump.

Two years later, Cailey was born. I was a bit better at the mothering thing. And she was a good nurser. But still, every so often I had to pump, just to relieve the pressure.

But one day, I forgot to check the settings. Emme had been loose in the room, and evidently thought it would be fun to twist the dial. To MAXIMUM SUCTION.

I had no idea that a nipple could be sucked up into the pump. A good two feet. No one had warned me about that in my breast feeding classes. Immobilized, I sat there unable to breathe. Watching my nipple get sucked in, and out, sucked in, and out. All the while I heard the pump say, “You’re a big loser. You’re a big loser. You’re a big loser. You’re a big loser.” Finally, I drew a breath and shut the thing off with my foot. It took quite a while for the pain to subside.

As well as the swearing.

After Cailey weaned, I gave the cursed pump to my SIL. Only to discover, at the age of 44, I was pregnant with Jensen. God needed to prove to me once again that a) He is in charge, and b) He does have a sense of humor.

Back came the pump. Like an unwelcome house guest. But it seems that Junior was a breast man. Came out knowing how to nurse. When he doubled his birth weight by 4 weeks, I knew I was producing something substantial.

I had very little need for the breast pump. But Jensen was a violent nurser. So, after him, the pump started to look good again.

Now, the pump is put away high on a shelf, collecting dust. I’ve not given it away, yet. There’s just a tiny little bit of superstition in me that is afraid I’ll get pregnant again, and be the oldest woman since Sarah to give birth.

It could happen.

I did, however, throw out the last of Jensen’s baby bottles today. As long as they were sitting in the cupboard, I felt like I had a baby in the house. But since he just turned 3, and that “baby” can wrestle me to the ground, it’s time to face up to the fact that my nursing days are long gone.

What I’m left with are 3 beautiful, healthy children. Two very misshapen, overworked, and under appreciated breasts. And one nipple that will never ever forgive me.


49 Responses to Sleep Deprivation and Other Methods of Torture

  • I feel you (well, past you) on the sleep deprivation. Our Monkeypants will be 4 years old on Thursday and our Baby Bug will be 1 month old next Saturday. Sleep would be a dream, if I could actually sleep long enough to get into a REM cycle. LoL

    I am and always have been horrified by breast pumps, and your story makes me feel like my fear is rational and justified. Truth be told I would rather milk myself like a cow than hook myself up to one of those deals!

  • A baby at 44. A baby at 44. A baby at 44. That’s all I can remember from this post. I am 45. I think it would kill me.

  • Thank you for this insight. 🙂

  • I just got rid of my pump yesterday! Your post could not have come at a better time. LOL. After 3 boys, the youngest is 15 months, I let the pump go. I lugged that thing daily to the office – I hated it but stuck with it. And though I hated that pump something fierce a part of me was sad to see it go since it means I don’t have a baby any more.

  • If it makes you feel better I have the exact same breasts. I like to describe them as a tube sock with a raisin on the end.

  • OK Sweetie… a disclaimer please that says – go pee before you read this post!

    I got to ‘MAXIMUM SUCTION’ and knew I had to put this laptop down and go prevent an accident before I read the remainer of your story! LOL

  • Hilarious!

    Unfortunately, I could never get a pump to work on me, and since my oldest wasn’t gaining like he should and I had to supplement him, I felt like such a failure. With my second, we only had to supplement a few weeks. By my third my body finally got the idea, and it was a good thing, because he would not take a bottle at all.

    My youngest is 14 and I am just starting those telltale signs of the “change of life,” and I am still fearful of a “surprise” baby, LOL! I know if the Lord allowed it He would have a reason for it and would help, but I just can’t imagine a baby at this stage of life. Yet there is another part of me that is sad that there will likely be no more babies.

  • One of your finest, I believe. 🙂

  • Oh my goodness! That cracked me up! Made me laugh out loud! I was going to nurse my children, but I have not birthed any children….now I don’t think I want to! LOL

    What a gift of writing you have!


  • I must say – my nipples feel your pain. Been there, done that. Yikes.

  • 44? Bless you. My last was at 40, 20 years after my 1st. I had big notions too. Funny you should mention Sarah – I posted about her today too.

    Love your words! Kim

  • Oh my. With all three of mine I pumped one side while nursing on the other–somehow that was the way I had to do it or I didn’t have enough milk. This would have been great if I had ever gone anywhere–but instead all that breast milk would sit in the freezer until I pitched it.:)

    And I SO know what you mean about the high setting–though that is what I usually used–it made sense at the time. 🙂

  • You must warn people to make sure they are not sipping tea while reading your blog! My computer screen will never be the same!

    I loved this post… because I’ve ‘been there and done that’ with the Medela! Thank you for the great laugh this morning!

  • After three NICU babies, my “ladies” cowered in fear at the “whoosh whoosh” sound of the pump. I used it to induce labor with my last baby, but I refused to even look at it while nursing, certain that any milk I had would run in fear at the sound.

  • Forgot to mention that my last baby is the only one I successfully nursed exclusively, past one year. Due in part, I’m sure, to the LACK of pump in my life.

  • OMG I SOOOO hear you! I had the same pump and the same experience . . . a love/hate relationship with that darn thing 🙂

    Thanks for the great post and giggle 🙂

  • I read this as I nursed my two-month-old.

    I laughed. Violently. Which caused me no small amount of nippular pain.

    Looks like we’ve come full circle.

  • LOL! Thanks for a great laugh today. I am afraid of the breast pump. Now, you have just confirmed my (pre-pregnancy) notion that it is from the devil. 🙂 Jenn

  • LOL! See?! I knew it’d be a good story! I used the electric with my first – I hated that thing. I got a manual 2nd time around – that way I didn’t have to put up with it talking to me! 😉 AND you can’t have a setting mishap!

  • Girl, you know you shouldn’t post things like “it could happen again…” right after you get rid of the bottles.
    We gave away our baby stuff and all the maternity clothes. Because we were done. A few weeks later – guess what we found out? Baby #4 on the way.
    I’m just sayin’. 🙂

  • I’m a L&D nurse – had to laugh about your description of your labor experiences. I actually had one patient that was mad at me and everyone else that she delivered too fast to get her epidural. (She came in 9cm… we barely got her admitted much less numb before delivery!) Every time I see her at church she mutters something about the whole thing!!

    I’ve been nursing my first child for the last 15 months. She still nurses all night long. Honestly, I have tried to get her latched onto my husband before – just for a BREAK!! Neither she or my husband were amused!!

  • Oh, the Medela Breast Pump. I actually loved my pump because it hurt less than my when my Baby Bubbalu was nursing. He took a good 4 months to get it right.

    I understand the whoosh whoosh pump interpretations! I would imagine it was saying things to me too!

  • I hope to never see a breast pump again. We rented one from the hospital and it seemed like I was trying (usually unsuccessfully) to nurse or pumping around the clock. It was really horrible. I forgot all about it, somehow.

    And I also forgot all the strange messages the whirling, squeaking thing “said” to me!

    It turns out my son has some swallowing issues, so I’m praying that if we are ever blessed with another baby he or she will know what to do and I won’t have to mess with that wretched machine again!!

  • I’m so glad I’m not the only woman with a talking breast pump. Mine always said “Ni-pple…ni-pple…ni-pple…ni-pple.” It made it really hard to “get my mind off the pump.”

  • LOL. What a great post. I’ve been blessed with 4 great nurslings. The youngest is still going strong at a year. And I mean STRONG. And with three teeth. Someday my body will be my own again, right?? Oh yeah, I’m married. Maybe not…

  • I couldn’t breastfeed because of the meds I have to take and I hate that. When Sean was an infant his eyes would get as bit as saucers when he would get a gander at the diary cow that was me and get all baby happy faced with joy and expectation. And then I would have to pull him away and give him a bottle. Broke. My. Heart.

  • Oh My Word. So funny! I was never able to nurse well because never made enough milk. I told my Father in law, who was a dairy farmer for years, that if I was one of his cows I’d be hamburger now. He told me he would have kept me around because I was a good breeder. :0) We shot the stork after our second one so Lord willing no 40-year-old surprises for us. Thanks for the laugh.

  • I have been reading your blog for several months now, but this is my first comment! I LOVED this story and could SO relate….I breastfed my son for a year, with the help of that same pump, which also “spoke” to me in my low post-partum moments….Hard to believe my little guy will be 3 in a couple of months…now we’re trying for #2! So hopefully my pump will be making a repeat appearance…but only on the proper settings!
    Thanks for the ministry of this blog! You’re a blessing!

  • Oh how I needed this today – the good cry at the beginning of your post and laughing hysterically at the end of it. (it’s an “on the broom” kinda week so far and it’s only Monday!)

    Thank you, thank you.

    We are the same age but at
    oh-so-different stages of mothering (thank you God!!!) – and you give me frequent reminders of why I am so grateful to not have given birth at 44.

    My last (#5) was at 28 – and that was hard enough!

    Bless you!

  • Oh! Oh my! I can’t thank you enough for this warning! 🙂

    Also, thank you so much for your incredibly sweet email! It made me so happy to come home from a long day “in the trenches” to your kind words. I really needed to hear that today.

    Great post!!

  • I totally feel you on everything- the epidural after a planned ‘natural birth’, the breastfeeding difficulties, the sleep deprivation, and the annoying-ness of pumping! My son is 3 months old now, and he eats fine now, but for his first 6 weeks, he wouldn’t breastfeed at all, so I pumped everything for him…so glad that’s over! 🙂 I also had a rough time right after he was born…hormones, sleep deprivation, and having NO CLUE how to raise a baby are all part of it, I think, but I’m getting better now! 🙂

  • you are hilarious! have a :0) day!
    i will be back for more!

  • What a great post. I actually laughed out loud. I just had to share your post, so I linked you up on my blog.
    http://www.kimber64.wordpress.com (little sanctuary)

  • I TOTALLY know what you are saying. Nipples hold a grudge like nobody’s business.

  • Oh man, you are funny !! I am going to write a post right now and send everyone who reads my blog to read this post !!! All mother’s get this ! I needed a good laugh … and you delivered ! I nearly lost it when I read “The chicken is dead.”

    And seriously, you should mass manufacture the epidural signs !

  • I’m so sorry that you lost your mom like that and had such a hard time after your firstborn.

    God bless you and yours,


  • As a mother/baby nurse & the mother of 3 myself… I must say that you tested the limits of my already weakened bladder! Must go do my Kegels now!!

    Pop on over & visit me sometime at http://anapronaday.blogspot.com

  • Um…happened upon your blog from the blogher ads and gosh, you made me laugh out loud (I don’t like using LOL, sorry). Anyway, my pump totally talked too! My husband thought I was insane, and maybe I was, but this made me feel so much better about myself..because it really did. Most days it just said “breastmilk, breastmilk, breastmilk,etc” but occasionally it would say other things…why do they do that…I had the same model (still do, still nursing the baby (16 mo)….don’t know when I’ll stop…swore up and down for the first 7 months of her life, I was stopping “yesterday” because I was so sleep deprived…now I still am, but not stopping…and I don’t know why. Thanks for the fun post

  • Oh Sister could I swap some stories with you. I think my nipple once thought it was morphing into Stretch Armstrong’s wife or something as it was being sucked up high in the beloved tube of nutrition. Talk about phantom pain months and years later! Glad to know I have someone to identify with 🙂

  • Breast pumps, both a good and evil invention if I ever found one. I spent hours and weeks with one because I was determined breast milk was best too, except I never ended up being able to produce more than 6 ounces at one time. Never lacated really. I’m still not sure my breasts survived that ordeal. On the flipside my two and half year old son certainly never missed a beat so it all worked out in the end.

  • Once again you made me snort with laughter! All I could think was your poor nipple once pulled from the devise looking up at you quivering with outrage crying how could you??
    Too stinking funny!! 🙂

  • The visual I got of your nipple being sucked into the machine at MAX suction made me spit out my Diet Coke – all over my beloved Dell! Woo Hoo – I needed that!

  • Bonnie over at Simple Beauty said that I MUST come over and read this post and boy am I glad that I did…girl, you are one hysterically crazy chick and I totally love that about you!

    Thanks for your honesty and transparency…it shines right through!

    Nice to meet ya!
    Come and Visit Mel’s World with Melissa Mashburn some time. 😉

  • Loved my Medela. But had an incident so similar to yours that I when I read your post I could swear that I got pain flashbacks and started lactating again. And I haven’t done that in two and a half years!

  • I am DYING laughing. I had the SAME THING happen with my breast pump (same kind) with my first child. And I did get rid of mine not that long ago, and bingo! Pregnant again! So, now I’m on the search for another one, even though I think I’m still scarred from that one time. 🙂

  • Ahh — this made me laugh so hard! I, too, heard phrases going thru my head to sound of that darned breast pump! At 2:00am it’s a bit spooky!:)

    I still have mine, too. It taunts my every time I pass it on that high shelf up out of the way. But, I too, have the fear of what will happen if I get rid of it…..

  • Wow Dee Dee, thanks for letting me know what I could expect if I ever decide to have kids in the future. haha I found myself laughing at your misfortunes-*sorry*!!!!

  • Oh, this was so funny…and true! I grew to hate that pump and often referred to myself as a “good heifer”. I feel sorry for cows now…poor old gals have to do it all the time I only did it for eight months.

  • My Medela definitely talks!! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one.

    I’m sorry that your mom’s gone, may today be filled with smiles, laughter, and warm memories!

    It is amazing what God puts into our life to help us through the toughest times. 🙂