Thursday, January 5, 2012

What to expect when you're pumping

If you are a D-Mom or D-Dad, that means at some point in your life you might have picked up the "Pregnancy Bible"; What to expect when you're Expecting. This post is my pumping version... minus the bible part.

You WILL feel like you have been diagnosed all over again.
This is because, more often than not, you will find yourself staring at the number on the meter, fighting the urge to scream the full-length version of WTF. Then you will have no idea what you're supposed to do next, and you will run over to the pile of hand-outs that the CDE gave you at pump class, to try and find the answer.

Pumping is sooooo different than MDI
I'm not sure that anyone told us this. Maybe it's because switching from NPH to a pump is harder than switching from an insulin like Lantus. Anyway, we have found that EVERYTHING has changed for Elise.

She is more sensitive to carbs. Her correction factor went from 500 to 250 (WTF??? in HALF?). She requires more insulin to cover her meals. I am amazed at how much more insulin she needs now that's she's pumping.

You will cry. This is normal.
I think I have cried more these past few months than I have in the last 2 1/2 years. Starting on a pump is a stressful, stressful business people. I highly suggest having bags of tootsie rolls (or -your go-to stress food of choice) stock-piled. You're gonna need them.

And for the love of all that is holy, don't start pumping right before a big event that is going to need all your attention; like having a baby. Or moving. Or going on a trip. I did all of these things over the last year and cannot imagine having to do it while figuring out pumping at the same time.

There will be times you will want to rip the pump from your child's body
I have lost count of the number of times I have uttered the phrase, "that's it. I'm done. Let's break out the NPH and drop-kick this pump out the door." Learning to let go of the "known" is tough. I like comfortable. Hell, I still have a pair of yoga pants from when I was 18 because they are so soft and cozy. If possible, I want to be buried in them.

You just have to ride out the storm knowing that there is a promise of calmer seas ahead.

3 days will pass by in a flash
What is the significance of 3 days? Why, it's when you're supposed to change out the pump site. I swear, if you need time to pass by quickly, just put your child on a pump. Because there are days when I hear that, "beep beep, beep beep, beep beep" and I start cursing because, hell... didn't I JUST do a freaking pump change 5 MINUTES AGO??? WHERE ARE MY TOOTSIE ROLLS?

You will mourn the loss of a contraption-free body
I let go of this a long time ago when we started on the dexcom. But seeing one more thing on Elise's tiny frame has made me sad. Especially when that one more thing leaves a pretty big mark.

You might wonder why everyone thinks pumping is so awesome
I won't lie, I've been asking myself what kind of crack the rest of you guys are smoking to like this pumping thing so much. And where can I get some? But then there are moments when the clouds part, the sun shines through and all is right in the world... like when we get two numbers starting with a 1 in a row. And I think, "yeeeeeahhhh! We got this!" Until the next 400+ pops up.

You need to stay the course
As much as I've been hating pumping, I know that in the long run, this will be good for Elise. One day, when the stars align properly, we will have figured out her settings and we'll feel good about it.

The most important thing is that Elise loves it. She seems to be happier than she has been in a long time. And that is worth all the stress, crying and WTF moments a thousand times over.

***edited to add a little caveat: I started writing this about a month ago. I feel much better about pumping these days but decided to leave this post as is because I hope it will help people see that there is a proccess when it comes to learning to pump. I'll leave you with just two words: pumping rules!


  1. i'm sorry the transition has been so difficult for you. but i really hope things will smooth out for you soon!

  2. BRAVO JO!!!!!!

    We did transition in Feb '07 when our 3rd baby was due in May. I can't imagine having a 3 year CWD who would randomly lose consciousness due to low blood sugar (plus the strict schedule), a 16 month old, and a new nursing baby. I had to seize the opportunity -- thank goodness it only took about a month to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

    I'm so happy you're seeing the light! Guess what?!?!?! Those 400's are going to start to go long as the cannula is working (after all, a pump is only as good as the cannula under the skin!), and she's tweaked just gets even better!!!!!!!

    YAY YOU!

  3. So, so, so true. And I have to add...even if you've pumped before, switching to a new pump is like starting all over AGAIN AGAIN! I'm glad Elise likes it, though. Adam does too, and I don't have the heart to make him switch back to tubing.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Your #1 (it will feel like starting all over again) and mourning the loss of a contraption free body are two big reasons I'm not ready to force the switch for Natalie (she doesn't want to yet anyway). I just dread having to go through all that when we are doing so well on day.

    Thanks for the info on pricking the toes too. Oh, and about the dolphin trainer, I think I read about her on someone's blog...maybe yours?? I haven't shown Natalie the video though...will so have to do that. :-)

  5. It's definitely the whole figuring out the settings things that makes the whole pumping process not seem so great. We needed a lot more insulin, too, for whatever reason. Once we got the settings down, I started to see why people loved mdi. It's a lot easier now that we're somewhere close to where we need to be. Great title, btw.

  6. Love this post! We started pumping in August and have had the same feelings! We do love the freedoms the pump allows you but at the same time there are some constraints. We have to change the site every 2 days due to our lean little girl.
    Here's to keep pumping along!

  7. These are all true and such a good list to let others know the reality of a pump. It will get better and I love my pump :)

  8. I'm so sorry your pump start was crazy and upsetting. I'll tell you that you had me prepared for major drama, crying, deep breathing and sleepless nights when we started Ava on Omnipod two weeks ago.

    As you know we started three days before Christmas and I can't tell a lie - it has been a breeze. I'm now one of the annoying people who think pumping is awesome.

    Having seen the pumping "promised land", I say, "hang in there". It will get good for you guys too and then you will be annoying and happy like me.

  9. How great that she loves it - that does make it all worth it. :) We started on a pump, and it was crazy but worth it (esp with colds & stomach bugs). It'll get easier - hopefully soon!

  10. Will keep this list handy when we return to podding again! I love that Elise loves it too...that makes it all worth for sure.

  11. This is all so very true Joanne! And when you read this post a year from now, when you are in a different place with the pump, you will smile, cause its all a journey.

  12. Thanks for the honesty. It's not an easy transition, whether it totally sucks or just sucks a little!
    Glad you are loving it (now)...just know there will still be WTF moments now and then ;)

  13. 3 weeks in I tweeted " I want to throw this piece of shit away!".

    Granted J didn't have the ping he had....anyway...I get it. And I think this would've really helped me then!

    Ps: hi. Miss you=)

  14. LOVE this post and I am so glad you left it as is. The honesty in it will hit home and help a new pumper I am positive. Hell it helped me and made me smile and we're going on 8 months pumping now.

  15. Our endo puts patients on the "poor man's pump" a basal/bolus regimen with Lantus and Novolog. You basal test, do frequent blood sugar tests, carb count, log all food. So the transition to pumping is not as difficult. Coming from NPH, I think you were faced with a stronger challenge. There are those quick highs though. They can go very high in a matter of two hours if on Apidra. I have often wondered if her control would be much better with the untethered method (where you get 80 percent of your basal through Lantus). You can then take off the pump for hours too. But she does hate the Lantus shot so we have never tried it. I'm glad to see from your last entry that you have adjusted. I know you are going to forget all about this time period like we all do, how frustrating it is. Yes, I'm sure this post will help many, I'm glad you posted this.

  16. love it Jo, and love the note at the end. I do believe pumping isn't "amazing" however it is truly the best option right now for our little dude. Bravo to you for sticking it out and making it work :)

  17. As you know, I HATED the transition to the pump. M loved it right away because it gave her so much more freedom (yeah, freedom to make REALLY BAD FOOD CHOICES while unsupervised by your parents!). It has smoothed out, and we have adjusted, her A1Cs have finally gotten back to normal (for her), but I am still not entirely convinced that it is for everybody.

  18. so glad you wrote this, i know it will be valuable to new pumpers down the road!


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