Here we are. It is almost time to call it a day with my trusty companions for the last almost 13 months. Previously I thought I would be jumping for joy over the end of the relationship, but I'm starting to change my mind. I find myself holding on and trying to delay the inevitable.
I'm talking about the deep and personal relationship I have had with my various pumps (my Ameda Purely Yours, Medela Pump In Style, and EvenFlo SimplyGo single pump) over the past year.
Since the munchkin was a few days old we have been together. I started pumping at the beginning because he wasn't gaining weight and I was afraid that I wasn't producing enough. At the advice of the hospital's lactation consultant I pumped after feedings to try to boost my supply and we did syringe feedings.. Then he started gaining weight like a champ and I was able to start stockpiling some milk for my freezer stash (which all went to waste when he refused to drink it). Then I returned to work and began my routine of pumping before work, twice during the workday, and then before bed.
Pumping at work sucked. It was awkward and I kind of hated sitting there in an empty office with everyone knowing what was going on in there. Weird doesn't even begin to describe it. But I persevered because it was best for the munchkin. And I daydreamed about the day I would get to pack away the pump(s).
Over the months I saw my supply diminish. I went from easily pumping 28+ ounces a day to struggling to get 12 and now barely getting 3. I popped more fenugreek, goats rue and blessed thistle than I can shake a stick at and downed gallons upon gallons of Mother's Milk Tea. All in the name of providing for the munchkin.
Formula was introduced when he was 7 months old after my body (and supply) was ravaged by the flu. Many tears were shed when he was given the first bottle of formula - and even more came when he wouldn't drink it and I was afraid he would go hungry. Eventually he gave in and took it. My supply bounced back some and we got through the next 5 months with him getting at least 75% breastmilk every day.
Now here we are. The transition to cow's milk started right around his first birthday. His birthday also marked the beginning of the end of pumping. That week I went from pumping twice at work to only once. After a week of that I quit pumping at work altogether. I still pumped one side in the morning before nursing him and both sides at night after he went to bed, so I was getting about 6 oz per day - enough to give him three bottles with 2 oz of breastmilk to 4 oz of whole milk. Last week I dropped the morning pumping and just let him nurse on both sides. I'm lucky to get 3 oz with my nightly pumping so pretty soon he will not have any breastmilk for his daycare bottles. He's still not 100% sold on straight cow milk, but today's bottles have a 1.5 to 4.5 oz ratio. By next week they will have to be all cow milk, unless we add in a little formula.
I had hoped to be able to continue nursing him in the mornings and the weekends - maybe even in the evening instead of giving him a bedtime bottle - but my munchkin apparently had other ideas. This past weekend when I tried to nurse him before he went down for a nap he just laid on my lap and cried. He wouldn't latch and pushed me away. After several attempts I gave in and made him a bottle, all the while trying not to feel rejected (and failing). The same thing happened several more times over the next two days. Cue the sound of my heart breaking just a little bit.
So there it is - my baby (toddler) has decided to wean himself. He still gives me 5 or 10 minutes of his time in the morning, but that's it. Part of me believes it's just that the milk isn't there anymore and he wants the instant gratification that he gets from a bottle. Had I kept up the rigorous pumping schedule that I did for months I may have been able to prolong it, but what's done is done.
I will always be proud of how far we made it. I will always cherish the time that we had together and will look back fondly on our quiet times, rocking in the recliner while he gazed up at me with a content look on his face after a satisfying nursing session.
And I will pack away my pumps until they are needed again (IF they are needed again). But I won't be doing it with as much excitement as I thought I would be. Instead it will be with a little sigh of sadness as I think about how fast the little munchkin is growing and how he doesn't need me quite as much as he did before.