I’m free from breastfeeding.
Actually, let’s rephrase: I’m free from pumping. Because breastfeeding and pumping are not the same thing at all.
I probably wouldn’t be so Julie-Andrews-twirling-in-the-Alps if I stopped breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is really nice. It worked for me. After some touch and go moments in the early days, we got the hang of it and it worked. I would put the baby on, she would get her fill, she’d pull off, I’d tuck my boob back in my bra, and we would go on with our lives.
But going back to work and pumping?
It got to the point where I was barely getting 4 ounces a day, despite spending an hour or more pumping. It got to the point that only one breast was producing milk, making me look like this:
It got to the point where she would get angry if I tried to breastfeed her when I got home; she was much more interested in seeing the world around her instead of trying to suckle for a few drops. It got to the point where I was forcefully holding her to my breast, trying to get her to take the breast (babies really start to prefer bottles after a while). It got to the point where I really had to re-evaluate the entire endeavor.
So, I looked at my sweet, sweet baby and thought: “She’ll live.”
Now I’m free from lugging the pump and all of the various accouterments into work each day. Of taking long, undignified breaks, terrified a coworker would walk in while I’m at my most vulnerable (and most ridiculous-looking). Free from cleaning shields and membranes and bottles. Of cleaning desk spills and breast pads (and hefty dry-cleaning bills when I would forget those breast pads). Free from having to remember I have 8 ounces in my work bag that has to be transferred to a fridge or else. Free from getting to my car at the end of the day, cursing, and then turning back around to the office fridge to get the milk I forgot. Free from having to run home at the end of the day to feed the baby and then feeling miserable (and engorged) if she already took a bottle at daycare. Free from it all.
Feeling miserable. When I think back on it, the only times I felt super emotional during my transition back to work was in regards to breast milk. That was the trigger. There was not one thing about the entire pumping experience that made me feel happy or good or sane, except for the fact she got to drink breast milk. And even then I was kind of questioning if it was all really worth it. (The man who wrote “don’t cry over spilt milk” obviously never met a working mom right after accidentally knocking over a bottle of freshly-expressed breast milk.)
It’s been two weeks since I’ve last pumped milk and I feel great. I grab a bottle, throw some formula in there and she drinks it. She is happy and satiated. I’m wearing regular bras again. I’m stone cold momming.
I heard Nat talking on the phone the other day to his sister. And when she asked how I was doing, I could hear him say, “You know, she seems like the old Dorothy.”
And it’s true. I feel like myself again. Two years after I first found out I was pregnant, I’m myself again.
It’s because I have my body back. That doesn’t mean that my body looks like it did before the babies (that is crazy talk) but I have autonomy over my own body again. No one needs anything from it.
And that feels incredible.