What Pumping and Dumping Taught Me About Gratitude


What Pumping and Dumping Taught Me About Gratitude

I reeeaaallly wanted to have a glass of wine the other night. But since I’m breastfeeding, this is not just a matter of going to the store to pick up a bottle. Breast milk is like liquid gold, and my supply is not exactly abundant, so the thought of having to pump and dump made me a little ill. 

But I reeeaaallly wanted that glass of wine. It had been a long day in a long week of an even longer month and I was tired, stressed and anxious. My husband Dan had agreed to watch the baby for an hour or so, and I wanted to kick back, relax, watch tv or maybe take a bubble bath and have my glass of Pinot Grigio.  

So I did. And it was amazing.

But then, a few hours later, it was time to feed the baby. And it hit me how sickening it really was to pour that hard-earned breast milk down the drain. I started complaining to Dan about how I couldn’t believe I was having to do this…what a waste…this sucks…

And then I caught myself.

Mid-sentence. Complaining and making myself the victim. Focusing on the negative aspects of the situation. I had made this decision — on my own. No one held me down and made me drink the wine. I weighted the rewards and the consequences and with full knowledge of what I would have to sacrifice, I drank the wine. Yet here I was complaining about it nonetheless.  

I’m not gonna lie, I can be a bit of a complainer in other areas of life as well.

I tend to want it all — like all the good stuff without any of the bad stuff that comes along with it. For example: I want to spend more time writing and doing creative work, but then I complain that I need more time with my son. Or I sometimes eat cake and cookies for breakfast, then proceed to complain about the extra 20 pounds I need to lose. I decline opportunities to attend events and parties, then complain that I’m not more involved in my community.

Come on. I know I’m not the only one.

The fact is that everything in life has a price; a consequence; a trade-off that we are or aren’t willing to make.

I look at other women sometimes, other moms, and I am amazed by all that they have…high profile jobs, successful side businesses, well-behaved kids, trim and toned bodies, great hair, fun birthday parties, clean houses. I roll my eyes at them but I’m secretly a little jealous. And I can’t help but wonder what their trade-off is. What are they giving up in exchange for all those things that look so great to everyone else? Their time? Their sanity? Are they exchanging their very souls for that sparkly clean house? That’s what I secretly like to think.

But we all have different priorities in our lives and our families. What’s right and essential for my friend may come at a higher cost than I am willing to pay right now. And something that is important and crucial to my well-being may not look like success at all to her.

No one can have it all.

They may look like they do, but there is a downside to every blessing; a thorn on every rose; an opposite side to every coin. And that is not a bad thing. The good news is that we still get to choose what is important to us and how much we are willing to sacrifice in order to have it.

But then once we have chosen something, once we’ve said this is what I want and this is what I’m willing to exchange for it, the trick is learning to stay focused on the positive aspects of the situation. Because there is no such thing as a perfect situation!  

I attended the funeral of an amazing lady recently. She was a pillar in her community, a wonderful person who always had a smile and a kind word to share. I sat among her group of work friends as they tearfully recounted their fondest memories of her. The thing that struck me the most about their stories was the fact that everyone mentioned how positive she was, and unanimously agreed that she NEVER complained. Her family said that even during her last days, as she was ill in the hospital, she simply did not complain. Wow. That’s certainly something to aspire to. Just think about that for a minute…what it would be like to never ever complain. I honestly don’t know what I would talk about if I never complained!

Most of us mere mortals aren’t that strong. I complain a lot. But luckily, I also sometimes catch myself mid-complaint, and I am faced with a choice to either keep grumbling and complaining, or check myself and replace that negativity with gratitude for the positive aspects of the situation. I don’t always do the right thing, but it is something that has been on my heart to pay attention to, and I’m making a real effort to work on this.

So next time I have to pump and dump, instead of griping about what a waste it is, I will say “Thank you, God for finally giving me a little baby to love. Thank you for giving me the ability to nurse and nourish him. And thank you, thank you, thank you for that amazing glass of wine!”


  1. As a breastfeeding paraprofessional, I hear about breastfeeding and drinking a lot. Thankfully with breastfeeding and alcohol, there is no need to dump the milk that is pumped after a drink unless the mother feels inebriated. Breastmilk has many filters and contains little alcohol regardless but with time the alcohol will dissipate naturally without having to remove it, just like our blood cleans itself. Happy breastfeeding, pumping, and enjoy that glass of wine without the guilt.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here