I stopped pumping for Avery a week ago after almost 15 months of exclusive pumping. I started the weaning process in May when I realized I had been so hyper focused on pumping that her oral feeding was on the back burner and NOW was the time to really get her transitioning to solids. I thought I would feel so guilty and depressed, but once I saw it for the accomplishment that it was, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my... umm.. back. 😉
Avery breastfed twice but was never able to nurse consistently due to airway protection and neurological issues. She has had a g-tube since 2 weeks old. I had expected her to nurse, so initially pumping was just to ensure that my milk supply would be establish for whenever she was able to latch, but that dream was in vain.
I was able to keep pumping for over 14 months through the craziest, most stressful period of my life. For several months, I pumped for TWO children- Avery, as a newborn and Lolly, as a 15 month-old who would happily take four 8 oz. bottles throughout the day. She had been weaned for 3 months and wasn't interested in actually nursing again, but enjoyed the bottles.
I was an huge over-supplier (pumping 17oz at one sitting) and struggled with mastitis almost every other weekend, especially when I tried to sleep for more than 3 hrs at a time. The weekend we brought Avery home from the NICU I was half-delirious with a 102.7 degree fever as a result of mastitis (the only time I've taken antibiotics for it).
I lived in athletic clothes (mostly sweatpants and a pumping-friendly top) the entire time. It was definitely not my most stylish period.
Until the end, I couldn't leave my house for much more than an hour to be close to my pump when the 2hr mark came around. I was practically chained to the thing.
I pumped in the car before and after every doctor's appointment and during the entire drive home, packing, cleaning, and storing ad nauseum.
The whole experience was so physically trying. My hair fell out (like postpartum fall-out times 10!). My hormones destroyed my skin. My sleeping scheduled revolved around my pumping scheduled and I hated every minute of it.
My goal was to pump for one year and I did it. I pumped for Avery AND Lolly AND babies that I donated to. In a season that felt like wilderness, I still had an abundance of gold. Liquid gold. I was still able to give, even as I suffered and struggled to adjust to our new life.
I pumped through every hospitalization, Avery's AND Macson's. I'm not sure how it will feel to sleep in the ICU without waking to pump after Avery's next surgery. It will certainly be one less item to pack and worry about.
I'm so thankful to be done, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for my babies. This part of my life is over, but lactating is part of my identity as a mother and one of my greatest passions. I'm so proud of what I've accomplished and so grateful to have been able to. I breastfed Macson for 3 years, Lolly for 11.5 months before my milk turned to colostrum at 5 months pregnant, and pumped for Avery for 14.5 months.
Hey, body of mine, good job. Thanks for a good run. Take a break. You've earned it.
P.S. Avery ate almost an ounce of sweet potatoes at dinner tonight, from a spoon with minimal crying and no choking. We've totally got this.
Below are my pictures of my pumping journey. I often took pictures to send to my mom, like, LOOK, IT'S ACTUALLY WORKING! 😂