Conall's Cleft Lip and Palate

Conall, our youngest son, was born October 31, 2002 with a wide unilateral cleft lip and palate. Conall weighed 10lbs, 10oz! Not such a little guy! Over his lifetime, he will have several procedures and surgeries to bring the separated parts of his mouth together. We're using the blog as a place to share our experience with others who are seeking information and, perhaps, some reassurance.

January 07, 2007

The End of Pumping Milk for Conall

Thank you for indulging me, I've been dreaming of the day I would post a message saying I was "hanging up the horns" and here it is...

Today I am pumping the last drops of milk and bidding adieu to one of the most incredible and most difficult things I have ever done in my life. My son was born with a cleft lip and palate and I decided he would receive breastmilk exclusively for a year which would see him through two surgeries. I pumped for 11 months and have enough frozen to see him through his 12th month.

I have one bit of advice for those of you just beginning to pump - EXPECT IT TO BE DIFFICULT. I know that doesn't sound fun, but it is the only way to stay sane. If you expect it to be simple and problem-free, you will quit when it gets rough. It is certainly easier at 11 months than 2 months, but there are different problems as you do it longer (e.g. supply).

I've pumped every 2 hours for my son when he was small, I've pumped in moving cars & planes, airports, and hospitals. I've shed many tears over painful nipples, low supply, lack of sleep, and emotional exhaustion. I've taken medication to increase supply. I've pumped with 3 children under the age of 5 and with my husband away on business trips. I've had plugged ducts and thrush. And through it all I've had to deal with countless doctors' appointments and medical treatments for my son's cleft palate.

What an accomplishment! I feel so proud of what I've done. Rest assured you will make it to your goals. If I can do it, you sure can!

So, I finally have come to an end I never believed I'd see. I can stop saying "Mommy can't, because she has to pump" or "I have to get home so I can pump". I can return this rental pump (I wish I could run it over with my car) and celebrate. What, you ask, will I do to celebrate? GO TO BED EARLY for the first time in almost a year!

Click here for the next post about Conall's journey.