It's the end of an era.
Tonight I hooked myself up like a common dairy cow for the last time. Yes, I stopped pumping.
I've made it 14 1/2 months. With the frozen stash we have, Robbie will get breast milk until his adjusted birthday (September 4th, for those keeping track.) That was my original goal.
Now, my original goal involved him being born on or around September 4th and him actually nursing for a year, so you know, it's more like original goal*, but this isn't baseball and asterisks don't count.
It's bittersweet to be sure. I honestly really enjoyed nursing Robbie for the very brief time that he would do so. And even beyond that, I loved giving him the very best nutrition he could get. He is at risk for about a billion different things, including mental retardation and immune deficiencies, so any boost I could give him in both arenas is a big deal to me.
I was also proud to have made it work. Maybe it's a little martyr-ish, but I was proud to be willing to sacrifice my time and comfort to do something good for him. Back in the NICU, it was something that made me feel a little more like a mom during a time that I really felt like an observer.
It wasn't easy. I'm not going to pretend it was no big deal, because damn it, it was. Pumping isn't the most comfortable thing in the world. It's time consuming. It makes lots of dishes (cones, bottles etc). It took me away from Robbie instead of bringing me closer like actual nursing would have done. In those months where Robbie wasn't sleeping and neither was I, it ate up time that could have been used sleeping. My supply tanked around 3 months and I had to start taking Domperidone, which was expensive. I had to lug the heavy, expensive hospital grade pump everywhere I went, including to and from work for the weeks that I was there while Robbie was still hospitalized. For many months, I had blisters on my nipples. No amount of lanolin could lube them up enough. In short- it sucked. Pun fully intended.
I wanted to quit a hundred times. A friend on a message board is a runner and says when she's running and she wants to stop, she tells herself "one more driveway." She can go just one more driveway and then she'll stop. And then another. And another. I "one more driveway"ed myself a number of times. Sometimes that only thing that kept me going was knowing how much worse the formula made his reflux. But even when we found a formula that didn't, I managed another driveway.
I gave myself permission to stop at 9 months. Then 10. Then a year actual. But I always found I could go just a little bit longer.
Probably the biggest reason I was able to keep going was that I wasn't working. Pumping at work was hell. My employer was NOT supportive. At all. The few weeks that I worked and pumped, I endured dozens of rude comments, smart-ass remarks, even formal complaints because other people in the office weren't granted the "benefit" of being able to pump. (Nevermind that I did so on my own time, opting to make Robbie's lunch instead of eating my own. And nevermind that it is protected by law in my state.) I had to actually consider retaining a lawyer to get them to comply with the law allowing me to do so. And while I am a fighter by nature, I'm not sure how long I could have kept it up if I'd have to endure all of that for months on end.
So being able to be off was my saving grace and I'm forever grateful for it.
Even with all the N.E.C. scares in the NICU, he never got it. The neonatologists said they believe it was the breast milk that saved him. He's gotten sick once in 14 1/2 months. I credit the immunities. Who knows what other benefits he has reaped.
And I'm proud.
But I'm back to work full time now, and Robbie is almost 1 adjusted. I haven't a margarita in about 2 years. Since it became clear that Robbie's stomach can't handle corn syrup, I gave it up as well. I haven't had a Pepsi in a long time. Which means no caffeine. It means no hot fudge. No soft serve. The number of things made with corn syrup is mind-boggling. And I've missed all of them.
And I've missed feeling like my body is my own. I'm sure David's missed my boobs, too, though he's a great enough guy not to complain about it.
So I'm looking forward to it. Tomorrow, I plan on having a nice, big, ice cold Pepsi. I'm giving myself a week to enjoy anything I want. We might be having ice cream cones for dinner tomorrow. And I've promised myself a margarita this weekend.
Next week, I will return the breast pump. If only it weren't rented, I'd have an Office Space Fax Machine event. But I promise to give it the finger as it goes.
Rest in peace, tit-torturer. Rest in peace.