Today, I said goodbye to a commitment I didn’t even know I wanted. I’m walking around in a daze because it has come to an end and I can’t decide if I’m supposed to smile, laugh, cry or a combination of all three.
I never had any intentions of breastfeeding. It seemed really hard. I wanted to be able to sleep through feedings (or at least share them with Dad) when I needed the rest. I wanted to go back to eating whatever I wanted. Did I mention it seemed really hard? The excuses before he was born were endless.
After holding my son for just a few seconds on the day he was born, he was transferred to the NICU for a little extra TLC. During my recovery, a nurse asked if I was planning to breastfeed. The word “yes” came out of my mouth so fast that I still don’t even know if it was really me who said it.
There were challenges from the start that made our breastfeeding experience difficult, but I pushed our care team to let me try just a few more minutes each day. Every feed was a combination of nursing, bottle feeding a fortified version of my breast milk, and pumping the excess to save for the next feed. It was exhausting, not just for me, but for my son as well.
Somehow, we kept it up until I hit my breaking point around the 9 week mark. It should have been getting easier, but it just wasn’t. He had been nursing all day long and I was incredibly proud. He then proceeded to scream bloody murder from 5pm until midnight because he was starving. I was starving my own child.
In an effort to completely control the number of ounces he was consuming in a day, I switched to exclusively pumping. It was hard in a different way. I couldn’t leave the house for anything more than a three hour time span (until I discovered the beauty of the hand pump) and cleaning the bottles and pump parts each night was annoying. It slowly became easier and I’m thankful for a supportive husband who cleaned and organized each night as I pumped the last bottle.
Over the past ten months, I’ve pumped approximately 1,200 times across six different states, a car traveling 80mph on the highway, a high-speed train to NYC, and two planes. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud to say that I did the very best that I could given the situation.
Goodbye pump. I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again…. but I can’t say that I’ll miss you right now.