You have sat at my table for almost 27 months. You have been a part of my daily routine since my son was born. There were times I hated you, times I loved you, times I cried over you, times I needed you, times I resented you and I will never forget the time when I wanted to throw you out my window and crush you to pieces. We have been across the United States together, visited some amazing places together, traveled in our camper together, used on highways, in hospitals, other peoples homes, and on the back roads. We have spent over 576 hours together.
But here we are, nearly 27 months later and I am so sad that our relationship is coming to an end. I certainly never thought we would be together this long. 13 months maybe, since that’s how long of a relationship I had last time but 27 months seems like forever. I almost hate to say goodbye, really, even though I hated you for many months. I don’t love you, but I love what you help me provide.
I have provided 265 gallons of milk to my son and at least 25 other babies and 1 man, other than my husband (yeah, we can talk about that some other time if you want). It is magical when I think about it, all we have done together but the end is near and I am struggling.
Over the last week, I have gradually shortened my pumping time. I have only been pumping twice a day for about 15 minutes for around 18 months so I dropped to 10 minutes. I saw a dip in supply the first day but then it seemed my breasts caught on and pushed out the milk fast. I can still hear the spray on the inside of the flanges. Fsshh, fsshh, fsshh.
I became discouraged when the milk wouldn’t stop flowing. So I dropped the pumping time to 5 minutes and was sure I stopped mid flow. I woke this morning with a sore spot in one of my breasts but continued to stick with the short pumping time and then it happened tonight. 4 oz.
That’s all I got, even with the breast massage. No strong flow. Only dribbles. The end of my exclusively pumping journey is near.
My heart hurts. I am screaming inside to get this milk flowing again; to see the sea of golden liquid pouring from my motherly, yet intimate parts. But I know, the end is near.
The end must be near. Logically, it’s been almost 27 months, well past the American recommended age of providing breastmilk for one year. I have endured criticism from medical professionals, family and friends for continuing to provide the milk to my son. “You know, there is no medical benefit,” they say. “If you were breastfeeding, that would be really gross at this age,” they say. “You know, he is only doing that for comfort,” they say when hearing he gets breastmilk and not understanding it’s from a bottle.
Thanks for your opinion, but I know what’s best. I certainly don’t enjoy being tied to the pump.
More logic, my pump parts will need to be replaced and I can save money by weaning, my hands free bra is so worn it’s no longer considered hands free, I seriously would like a large portion of my counter back, and finally, I am sooooo tired of washing parts and bottles.
So the end is near. I am actually at a place where turning around and trying again might bring heartache because the milk may not increase at this point. But I do worry about a few things.
Will my son sleep without the milk? Will my fertility remain? Logically, I shouldn’t be that fertile while pumping but I often wonder if this was part of my fertility renewal and I worry my fertility will dwindle even as I struggle with the decisions that come with the fertility.
So here we are, you and me. What do we do? Is it really time to say goodbye?
I was hoping I would have some special words. Words of wisdom or just a parting statement, but I don’t. You got me where I am today and I nourished my son for 27 months because of you. I was able to enjoy the looks of satiety as he drank my milk from the bottle, rejecting anything else we put in it, only accepting the fresh milk and not the frozen. I was able to see him grow and develop because of this special nourishment. I can still envision him drinking that liquid gold and enjoying it.
“I want milk mama,” is what he says now. “No sweetheart, there is no more milk,” I reply. He begins to cry, “I want milk mama! “I know, no more milk, would you like a pacifier?” I reply. He begins to wriggle and kick a bit, unable to truly comprehend what this means. No milk for now or for all time? He pushes me more, “I want milk mama!” The longing in his eyes digs deep within my soul, reaching inside to force an expression that I cannot provide.
“No milk,” I say and I begin to shush him and rock. I rock as he cries for the milk. I cry too. Because as much as I want to stop, I want to keep going. He starts to settle a bit but the wrinkles of distaste remain on his face…until sleep finds him and he becomes weightless.
32,083 ounces of milk over 27 months. Roughly 250.6 gallons of breastmilk provided. I pumped for 34,568 minutes or 24 days straight.
I love the way you write. Thank you for being so vulnerable and open.