Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dagnabit and Decisions

This is the trend of my total milk production (I lost the first two weeks of data so this is 1/5/11 to now.  Also, the dip at the beginning is dual mastitis that earned me my six-day readmit):

I thought it was because of the passage of time since he was born plus the evidence from this graph of my total daily pumping time:

(odd trivia fact: I always subtract three minutes from my pumping time... originally I think I had some theory about it being letdown time, but now I just do it to seem consistent with other weeks.  Well, and the real reason is to probably make it seem like less time.)

I should have been suspicious that the drop was too much to be explained by just the pumping time because after an initial drop, the number of times I have pumped a day has stayed pretty even:

Today I finally figured out what is going on.  I use two pumps: a Medela Symphony at the house and a pump in style at the office.  The pump in style seems to have reached it's last leg.  I had thought this a few times in the last months, but I convinced myself I was crazy.  Today it was obvious that it just ain't cutting it.  Pumped twice so far today and under 50 mL total each time.  And after the second time I experimented with hand expressing.  With a good pump with the Symphony, I can then remove maybe 5 mL per breast.  I got over 30 mL from each breast working less than three minutes per side.

I think I should have been suspicious based on the change in the ratio between the two sides (this is right divided by left):

When I was falling off more naturally, it seemed like the right deteriorated my quickly, but despite the serious decrease in each breast over the last two months, the ratio stayed pretty constant.

So Decisions....

  • Do I cart the symphony back and forth?  This is one I bought myself, so it doesn't have a hard case, so I worry about damage to it.  Also it would be huge, I really don't want to do that.
  • Do I try just pumping once or twice during the work day and running home?
  • Do I rent a second symphony and leave it here?
  • Do I just buy a new pump in style as it's handy... Also, I have a trip to Canada coming up that I was considering taking the pump in style instead of the symphony just due to size anyway.
  • Do I declare myself done/incompetent and just quit?
Seriously, how did I not notice earlier?  Despite an average of less pumps on the weekends, the production is better... Argh.

I'm leaning towards just buying another pump in style.  If I remember right, that's around $300?  I feel like I've tried everything.  Replacing all the membranes has seemed to improve the performance of the Symphony, but the PIS is just getting worse and worse.

I went home and pumped (just finished) and got more than double what I had gotten from the two pumps I had done at work today!

For the sake of visual completeness, here's total broken down by left and right to make the problem a bit more obvious (yes, I know I should make more useful graphics given the data, but these are fast to autogenerate):

I really do need to take some sort of action, like today.  Thoughts?


  1. LOVING the graphs. Makes me feel as though I am back at work!

    Firstly, I am impressed that you have your own Symphony, I'm sure that is the better pump even against a PIS in full working order. But they are HUGE and I can understand why you don't fancy carting all that around with you.

    I have a Pump In Style from when J was in NICU. It is pretty good but it does look as though yours is giving up. Have you checked the front plate for damage? I managed to crack one of the attachments and, since I've replaced it, my PIS is doing much better. Medela do sell quite a few replacement parts for the PIS, buying a whole new one would be quite expensive if you could rejuvenate your current one somehow.

    And you're certainly not incompetent! Even on a bad day you are doing better than I ever did!

  2. Check out the Hygeia pump - I've heard really good things about it!

  3. Wow. I am totally impressed by the math, the level of detail, the math, the math and the math. Amazing. I wouldn't want to encounter you in a Science Bee!!

  4. I'm hesitant to jump brands because I own all the "stuff" for Medela. I think I've come up with a strategy. Going ahead with pump attempts here with the sad pump today and then will make a run home at late lunch to get a good pump in. Then, Trajan has a doctor's appointment this afternoon a few blocks from our nursing store and they apparently can confirm that the suction is off. Then it's the question of do I buy one then or spend the next couple of days seeing what if any discounts I can finagle...

  5. Not sure where you are on this, but when I had to send the freebie hospital grade pump rental back after three months - was that a Symphony? - they sent me a free PIS. And it sucked. I literally had a deep freeze full of expressed milk from the hospital grade pump, so I knew I was producing. But I'd get an ounce and a half from each side with the PIS. It was awful, and I would not buy another one if I had another early baby or couldn't nurse for some other reason. I would absolutely pay for a hospital grade pump rental.