Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Putting down the pump

After 20 and 1/2 months breastfeeding and 2 and 1/2 months pumping, it is time to say goodbye. And while I did not make it to my goal of 2 years, I came really close. 23 months of giving my baby the best milk. This is such a hard post to write. I sit here with tears streaming down my face because I realize that the bond between Nathan and I is so different than it was before.

It is hard to put into words how I feel about this. I am extremely sad and devastated that we had the sudden end to our nursing relationship. But I am also proud. Proud of myself for doing this. For sticking with something that long, for giving him the best start to life, and for knowing when it is time to say "enough".

This past week has hit me hard. I had a milk blister in my left nipple which caused excruciating pain. I could not pump on my left breast for several days because I almost passed out from the pain. My already dwindling supply took a hit that it could not recover from. The lack of pumping on that side plus the progesterone supplements from the last cycle has all but wiped out my supply. When I pump now, I am getting less than a teaspoon out.

And while I could keep up the pumping for another month to make it to my goal, I know that my sanity just can't take it. Pumping is hard work. I pump for at least an hour to get a teaspoon of milk. And while some may say that an hour isn't very long, when you have a toddler getting into everything, an hour chained to a pump is an eternity.

What sealed the deal for me was last night. I went to my homebirth support group meeting and a couple of La Leche League leaders attended to talk about breastfeeding in the few weeks after birth. At the end of the meeting I got to talking to them about Nathan's strike and my pumping. After I finished my story, one of the leaders (while nursing her 3 year old) said to me "It is ok to stop. You have done amazing." And I just started crying. She went on to say that she had never said those words because she always tried to fix breastfeeding issues and get nursing back on track. But she could tell that I was really devoted to breastfeeding and released me from my guilt.

It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. In some ways, I was holding onto pumping so that no one would think that I was a lesser mother (mainly myself). Breastfeeding was always something I could be so proud of (as you can tell from my blog posts about the subject). I am always advocating for others to breastfeed for two years and I felt like a fraud if I (of all people) couldn't make it.

But you know, I did make it. I did it. He has had no other milk for 23 months. And it is ok to say goodbye. So with that, I am no longer a nursing mama. I imagine that I will still feel guilt from time to time, but for the most part, I feel proud.
And with that I leave you with our last nursing picture. This was taken about a week before the strike started. I struggled to look at this before. Now, I see it for what it is. It is a picture of a beautiful toddler looking into his mother's eyes as he gets the ultimate comfort and nurturing.


Amanda said...

Oh Mandie - you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. You ARE amazing. Every drop you gave Nathan will benefit him far past just his first 2 years... and you know that :) He is such a lucky boy to have you for his mama. There's no doubt looking at the pictures of him & you that he is the happiest kid who is loved more than anything! And what a precious photo! *HUGS*

Jenn said...

Mandie, I am so proud of you and how long you have been breastfeeding/ pumping. I am glad you made a healthy choice for you. The photo is a beautiful photo and you will always have the memories. Because of how long you breastfeed you have made a special bond with Nathan, and he is lucky to have you as his momma. I am so proud of you!!! Hugs!

Papa Bear said...

I'm so proud of you.. you are the best mother in the world. I knew that I picked the most wonderful woman to be the mother of my children. I never question that your heart is in the right place. Hugs and kisses to my mother panda.. rar.

April said...

Mandie I admire your dedication so much! I'm so proud of you and only wish you and I were friends when I first had Kaylee......I know I could've made it bf'ing with your help. Your an amazing mommy to Nathan, good job sweetie!


from Kaylee: lol
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Jamie said...

Mandie - you are amazing. Not only did you never 'give up' nursing but instead rose a healthy, independent little boy who stopped on his own when HE was ready... but then you commited yourself to giving him every ounce of milk you could still provide. Your love for him and passion for motherhing exudes in everything you do. He is a happy little boy who has gotten everything he needs from his mama and then some. And most importantly, he knows that he can depend on you. He felt comfortable enough and secure enough in your relationship that he was able to give up nursing on his own when he was ready. Please don't feel guilty. Nathan made the decision in a healthy and normal way... and now you are making the decision alongside him - for your health and sanity. Kick the guilt out of your head. This is not the same as every scenario you're comparing yourself to of mothers who 'give up'. What you've done and what you're doing is healthy for both of you. You're one amazing mama!

Natosha said...

Mandie- what a wonderful mom you are. Congrats to Nathan for having such a strong hard working mom. Yeah for giving him the best gift of all. You, hard work, time and effort, love, and most important BREASTMILK (AKA Liquid Gold) :)