The day has come; I am finished breastfeeding.
I exclusively pumped for nine months. At 10 minutes a session, an average of five times a day, that’s 14,000 minutes, 233 hours, or nearly 10 full days spent strapped to that machine.
Half of me feels like a proud bad-ass. The other half feels guilty that I didn’t continue for longer. Stupid guilt.
I knew my pumping days were drawing to an end during Charles’ week-long business trip last month. Taking sole care of Charlie left few at-home opportunities to pump, especially because my little guy is so mobile now. I’d be strapped in and pumping when Charlie would decide it was time to try climbing up the not-yet-baby-proofed entertainment center. Or the cat food he’d otherwise ignored since birth. Pumping became a safety hazard.
And it wasn’t like I was getting tons of milk for my effort. At my peak, I produced about 22 ounces of breastmilk a day. I noticed a steep decline after the incredibly stressful holidays, and my supply just continued to decrease. The two weeks before I stopped pumping, I averaged five ounces a day. FIVE. It was frustrating and demoralizing. I won’t even go into all the other tricks and tips I tried to increase my supply.
I decided to stop for good on the day I pumped half an ounce TOTAL after a four-hour break. I took a picture of it (for posterity?) and packed up the pump. A day later, I mixed the milk in with a bottle of formula for Charlie’s breakfast.
I definitely feel a sense of liberation. I don’t have to plan my workday around 2-3 pumpings. I don’t have to worry about Charlie’s safety before I strap on the machine in the morning. And I don’t have to worry about how much pinot grigio I drink. Priorities, people.
The whole weaning process has been OK. Mostly, I’ve felt emo. I balled my eyes out while reading a PEOPLE magazine article about Christina Applegate’s new baby. Nurses at the hospital who didn’t know she was a breast cancer survivor would ask whether she’d be breastfeeding. To not even have the choice? What I went through was nothing in comparison. Cue tears.
Still, I desperately wish the whole experience had been better, but I’m also disappointed that I was (am?) so hard on myself. Not that I’m surprised. Being hard on myself seems to be part of my DNA. Maybe things with Baby #2 will be better, if and when there is a Baby #2. But if it’s not, I’m going to try to give myself a break, and applaud myself for what I accomplished with Charlie.