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.