I thought I would be jubilant on the day I quit pumping breastmilk.
I remember the days I spent hooked up to a pump when Baby was just two weeks old and I had a mastitis infection that made it too painful for Baby to nurse. I remember the weeks before I went back to work after maternity leave when I pumped milk while Baby napped. I remember the first few months back at work when I was pumping four times a day, which was two hours a day and ten hours a week! That’s FORTY hours a month!!
Assembling and disassembling the pump was so tedious! Pumping was so tedious! I couldn’t wait to quit and I spent those early months of Baby’s life counting the days until I could quit.
As time went by, I learned to make the most of my time. I invested in a hands-free pumping band and I was finally able to enjoy hobbies, like leisure reading and listening to my i-pod. My pumping sessions became my little oasis. I had a legitimate reason to get away from work, I had peace and quiet, and I had some time to enjoy some of my old hobbies. I even went back to school to continue working on my degree and had plenty of time to study.
After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to stop pumping after Baby’s first birthday. Baby will drink whole cow’s milk at daycare during the day and continue his normal nursing sessions at home with Mommy at night.
I’ve slowly been reducing my pumping sessions at work over the past few weeks. When I wasn’t pumping enough milk for Baby’s daily needs, we started thawing the stockpile that I had in the freezer.
Now, we have one ounce in the refrigerator, four ounces in the freezer, and I haven’t pumped at work for the past two days.
In one sense, I feel liberated. I don’t have to haul my breastpump back and forth to work. Daddy doesn’t have to wash bottles and sippy cups and pump parts everyday after work. We don’t have to pack bottles for daycare, rotate the milk inventory, freeze milk, thaw milk, or cry over milk bags that leak.
So why do I feel a little melancholy? I miss leaving a part of me with my Baby when I drop him off at daycare. I feel a little twinge of regret that he needs me just a little bit less today than he did last week. I mourn the babyhood that has passed and I cling to my memories of his infancy. I’m not ready to pack up that last ounce of milk from the fridge or thaw that last bag in the freezer.
Change is hard, but I remind myself that it’s my job as a mother to teach him not to need me.
It’s all about Baby.
And Baby is happy.