I have made a resolution for myself (and, incidentally, my work) today. I am phasing out pumping. This has been harder than I thought it would be.
So, I haven’t gotten very personal on the blog as of yet (actually, I haven’t gotten much of anything lately on this blog … something I keep hoping to change). But here it goes…
I’m nearing the end of my law school days (one semester to go after this one, woohoo!) and my baby is now a toddler. And while I know I’m in the right place for me (law school, the legal profession, etc.), I have told myself from day one of my son’s life that I would always put him first. Being a bit of an obsessive workaholic, I had to have that pep talk with myself well before I was even thinking about the day I’d go back to work/school.
Or so I thought. Turns out, I took that self-admonishment to the extreme (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course). I put myself (and my work) on the back-burner as I tried mightily to be the mom I had envisioned myself being. For me, that vision included breastfeeding. And pumping. Lots and lots of pumping.
And so as I toiled over an amicus brief last summer, I cried when I was too stressed out to make enough milk (a theme that would recur as the fall semester came & went). And I have certainly cried over spilt milk. I have been late to class because I just had to squeeze in a pumping session. I have taken supplements and changed my diet, all in the name of producing more milk (moo!). At the most extreme moments, I told myself that pumping was my way of staying connected to my baby while I was busy trying to become a lawyer & save the world (ha, as if there were much of a chance I’d somehow become unconnected!).
Then, a few weeks ago, as my son approached his first birthday, I realized that he’d likely live without my milk. And so I dropped down from two pumping sessions to one, intending to stop completely soon after. But that last one has been hard to kick. It lingers, and I still find myself working hard to get every last drop possible. Nursing and pumping have been visceral, meaningful experiences for me – a physical tie to my son to replace his previous residency in my womb and our literal attachment via the umbilical cord – so I’m not at all surprised that I haven’t stopped yet. It’s powerful stuff, the likes of which I had never experienced before.
I suppose I’ve been harboring an underlying fear that once I stop pumping I’ll dry up and my son will wean himself and that will be the end of our nursing days. And that all might happen. And I would be a little sad. But what I’ve realized is that while breastfeeding is important to me, it’s only one small (and by definition, short-lived) part of my relationship with my son (ah the clarity a little sleep will bring…). I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts (those quiet cuddles, just me & him), but I’m also looking forward to expanding the ways we interact with each other and turning our nursing relationship into the foundation for what I hope will be a life-long & love-filled mother-son relationship.
And so I’m resolved. Today starts the countdown. And by the time I’m done with classes in a couple of weeks I will have “hung up the horns,” so to speak. I’m looking forward to getting that time back for myself.