For some moms reaching a pumping goal is filled with excitement, an internal pat on the back and the self-approval that it’s now okay to stop working so hard to feed their baby, to pack up the pump and move on with their lives.
For me though, I don’t feel that excitement, my upcoming goal is filled with anxiety, self doubt and fear, a fear of so many things, post-weaning depression being a big one!
For 4 years I will have diligently set up my pump and pumped out the milk my daughter loves, the milk that has sustained her, made her feel safe and sleepy, kept her healthy, the milk we have bonded over, the milk I’ve stressed over, the milk that has come to define my passion, my life-goal, the milk that has come to define me.
It’s hard to let go of something that has played such a big part in your life, there are so many significant things that have gone into and come out of this journey, so much of my mothering, so much of my self esteem, my self acceptance and self worth, what will I be when I eventually stop pumping?
So many things that go through my mind as we reach 4 years of exclusive pumping, are we ready yet? Does my daughter still need my milk? How will my body react? How will my brain react?
I know my family wants me to stop, I know they have wanted me to stop for a very long time, occasionally I want to stop too, but we are not the only people in this breastfeeding relationship, we aren’t the only ones who deserve a say on when the milk stops. My daughter still loves her milk at bedtime, she still asks for it when she wakes up in the middle of the night after a bad dream, she still asks for it when she is upset and is cuddled up in my lap or when she has taken a tumble and skinned her knee, when she doesn’t eat well it’s our peace of mind, when she is sick it’s our saving grace, when she is over tired it’s our “calm down” routine that helps little bodies to relax and fall asleep, there is still SO much we all benefit from this journey. Who’s to say when it’s over other than the 2 people who are directly involved?
I know that in little less than 2 months time my family and society will be expecting me to stop pumping, but there’s still so much under the surface that they don’t understand, so much they couldn’t fathom would be rolled up in this alternative breastfeeding journey, still so much pain, doubt, fear, failure, and on the flip side there’s all that passion, determination, pride, there’s the bond between me and my daughter, the security of getting at least something healthy into her, the fact that giving her my milk eases so many of my mothering fears, the feeling that on those days when I mess everything up at the end of the day I can still do something right, something that eases those feelings of failure and helplessness. For some, letting that all go might be easy. I am not one of them.
I don’t know when we will be ready to stop, but I am confident that when that time comes I will not be filled with fear, I will not have that nagging feeling that I will regret quitting, I will not be sad, so for now we carry on, day by day, until one day, my daughter says “no thanks, I don’t need my bedtime milk” and I breathe a sigh of contentment and I pack my pumps away with excitement for the next part of our wonderful journey.