I know what you all will think when you hear this (or maybe not all of you). Last night was the last time I pumped. And now you are thinking that I must be crazy for having pumped for 17 months. Maybe so.
I realized awhile ago, probably a couple months ago, that logically it made sense for me to stop pumping. My body was barely producing anything, and while I was only pumping twice per day, it still was taking up time during my day to not only pump, but clean all of my pumping supplies. Currently, we are using milk from the beginning of September so I know she will still get some each day for the next couple months. Emotionally I have been in a bad place for a couple months (this requires an entire other post), and I knew that I should drop the pumping, as to eliminate something from my plate.
But for some reason, while it made sense in my head to stop, my heart was having a hard time catching up. I found myself hesitant to stop pumping for several reasons. It is so good for any baby, and even better for an immuno-suppressed child to get some extra help through breastmilk. It also guaranteed me two times per day of uninterrupted time to myself.
Then, I had an epiphany. While that reasoning was all true, I was not addressing the emotional reasons why I might be hanging onto pumping longer than practical. I feel like Luca's health situation robbed us of so much. I breastfed her for only two days. I was having this hang-up that somehow, by pumping and giving her breastmilk, that while it was not a bonding experience for her, it still was for me. I was providing nutrition for her, whether she knew it or not. I feel sad that I was not able to breastfeed her. It was always part of my plan, and that plan was drastically altered, and I am having trouble letting go of that original plan. I think that sadness of letting go of all these plans, including breastfeeding, is something I am just starting to address.
Also, and this is a big one, is that we do not know if we will have anymore kids. And if we are meant to only have Luca, this is my only time to have that experience.
I woke up this morning and started getting my pumping supplies ready. Then, I took a few minutes to think about things. The fact is, with all of those emotional reasons for continuing to pump not going away anytime soon (if ever), I figured I needed to just pull the trigger, suck it up, and stop. I am still going to be sad that I was not able to breastfeed Luca like I had planned to. I will be sad if I never get to experience having another baby. But continuing to pump is not going to take away the sadness of any of those things. It will not change what has happened.
It was time. Today, I felt sad about it. But with stopping came some relief, some freedom, and clarity. Now, I can focus on the emotional aspect of things. I can see now the reasons why I was having trouble letting go. It was all about letting go of that dream I had of breastfeeding. But I can sit back and know that while I did not breastfeed for as long as I had hoped, Luca has reaped rewards from my 17 months of pumping.
I can say one thing - I am excited to start shopping for some new regular bras, to go to sleep at the same time as Ian tonight (instead of sitting up pumping), and to pack away my pumping bag and gear. I hope someday I get to pull it all back out again. But if not, I certainly have gotten my money's worth!