Independence Day: Free of the Breast Pump but Not Free of Emotion

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A woman holding her baby.With my daughter’s first birthday and the 4th of July holiday near us, I am approaching another independence day of sorts; freedom from the breast pump, my mechanical sidekick for the past ten or so months. The excitement with which I look forward to putting that device literally back up on the shelf, however, does not make the occasion any less bittersweet, for it means nearing the end of my nursing sessions with my daughter.

It is not as if I fooled myself into thinking this would be an easy milestone to accept. When my older daughter, who is now three, was just a few weeks old, I read a woman’s weaning story and sobbed for an end that was, at the time, many months away. However, they both are very different babies, and weaning them felt very different.

For starters, I am no longer a rookie. While it seems like the most natural thing in the world, mainly when our bodies are specifically designed to do it, the first time around, I had never felt so equally clueless and helpless at the same time. We fumbled along with my BFF, KellyMom (which, if you are looking for one, is a fantastic resource on breastfeeding), with whom I consulted on everything.  

With my second daughter, however, I felt confident, could even multitask while doing it, and never second-guessed the myriad of things that run through your head when you have an infant. She latched immediately in the labor and delivery room. We were pros!

Also, despite my early sob session, my older daughter weaned without much forethought or fanfare. Curiosity would be an understatement for what characterized her during a nursing session. She was not content to even face away from the action; nursing cramped her style. Thus, unbeknownst to me, some random weekend afternoon when she was about ten months old ended up being her last nursing session, and I just continued to pump until she was a little over a year.

My second baby, however, still likes to cuddle and nurse before bed; she plays peek-a-book with her lovey while she nurses; she snuggles into my neck afterward. It is heaven, and I’m going to miss our routine.

With my older daughter, I also knew that we at least hoped to have another baby and that weaning her would (hopefully) not be the end of my breastfeeding career. While I don’t know that my husband and I have definitively ruled out any more children, the odds seem at least a little more likely than not that we are a complete family.

So, while there is always a possibility of more late nights in that rocking chair, more lower back aches from not holding correct posture because it’s 3 a.m. and more irrational worries that I have either too much or too little supply, I am trying to accept that I might be hanging up my breastfeeding hat.

On a much lighter note, I will also no longer have an excuse to scarf down two or twenty homemade lactation cookies, which I baked without abandon over the past year, to maintain or increase my milk supply. Sure, I can, and probably will, continue to make the recipe, but now I won’t be able to claim them as my special cookies; now, I will have to share.  

I also may secretly miss my husband singing Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam” any time I reminded him that I needed to do so or called him from my office under the guise of being on a conference call to deter co-workers from knocking on my office door. I mean, who couldn’t use a little more late 80s dance music in their lives?

All of the above said, while I might lament that my baby is not much of a baby anymore, I cannot wait to watch her grow and her little personality blossom. I also am thankful that I never managed to give my pump a name. Otherwise, I might be sad to see it go, too!

Breastfeeding mamas, how did you feel about weaning?

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Kara, her husband, and two little girls M and Z live in the idyllic town of Rowayton. She was born and raised in West Virginia and, although she has lived in the New York metro area for over fifteen years, is a mountaineer forever (Go ‘Eers!). In addition to being a mom to M (born in 2011) and Z (born in 2013), Kara is a full time attorney working in Manhattan and a hobbyist photographer. When not battling Metro North, she enjoys practicing her photography skills, reading the latest best-sellers, trying new recipes for the girls, getting outdoors whether running, hiking or snowshoeing, and competing with her husband for the self-proclaimed title of “Efficiency Expert.” If you can’t find her doing any of these things, she most likely has fallen asleep on the sofa while attempting to watch the latest “must see” movie.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Love this, Kara! I felt the same way with my second and we actually continued to do night feedings until he turned 2! Big sister was 13 months when she weaned. I took some pictures for my own nostalgia which I definitely didn’t do with my first. I felt like our feeding sessions were my chance to spend one to one time with my little guy without big sister in the picture, which is why I think we were both reluctant for that time to end. Hope you get through this milestone without too many tears! Hooray for finally being pump free!

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