Sunday, July 31, 2011
Remnants of the golden years...
Or golden months. Or liquid gold. The best year of her life, and mine. This here is where my breast pump used to sit during the last few months. And now, bambina is 1 year old! As you remember, I had made the commitment to breastfeed for at least a year. Well, I'm proud to say that I did it! I made it! The last several weeks I made it to the finish line on my knees followed by down on my hands. Reaching for air. Woman down. But I crossed that finish line using my Chichi Power. So now, I should be happy, right? My boobs are free from captivity, this is what I wanted, right? Right?? So why was I so...sad. And having such a hard time letting go. All these months of tears and pain and dying for this year to be over so I could be done with this. But on July 2, the day after her birthday, I was still breastfeeding her and did not want to stop. It's been a very emotional time for me since.
The day of her birthday party, I had put away my breast pump which lived on my kitchen table, so I could make room for the festivities. And I just quickly unplugged it and put it away in one of our rooms without much thought since my intention wasn't to actually "pack it up," but just put it away for that day then bring it back the next day to continue my milk machine factory. But then, the next day came along, and the next day, and the next after that, and I never looked back. I went in there a few days later to clean up the room and looked at my poor breast pump sloppily placed on the floor and I thought "I am not ready for you yet." Then I left the room and closed the door. I wasn't ready as in, I wasn't ready to decide whether I would keep pumping or put it away for good. What the heck was wrong with me? Not ready to stop pumping! I hated pumping! I used to say a few weeks back, "when I pack up my pump for good I am going to say, I'm gonna miss you pump...NOOOOT!" Yet still, I was having a hard time letting go. I had all these "pump accessories" all over the kitchen, like bottles, cleaners, all this plastic and yellow Medela stuff asking me, "ummm, are you done here? Can we go now?" And, I was also still breastfeeding my girl, just not bottling it anymore. Even though there was a significant decrease in my breastmilk, I no longer felt the let-down or felt fullness, I continued to let her nurse. She noticed the decrease too and would stop and pat my breast and nod her head which to her meant "yes mommy, yes I want more milk. Please give me more milk", followed by frustration and tears "why won't you give me more milk, mommy, why!!" Okay, maybe in her mind it wasn't that dramatic, but that's exactly how it felt in my heart. So I continued to let her nurse whenever she wanted, hoping she would find something there.
It wasn't until one night that I had a big meltdown with my husband and broke down in tears and told him what I was feeling. That I was having such a hard time letting go of breastfeeding, that I felt I could do more, that breast milk has so many benefits so I wanted to keep doing it but at the same time my body was so exhausted and I wasn't producing nearly enough milk anymore and I had already struggled with low milk supply all along. I felt so silly crying to him about that, but he didn't think it was silly and was so supportive, just like he always is, and just heard me out. And it helped. The next morning, I woke up feeling a lot better and empowered. I went into the kitchen in the morning and saw all the breast pump accessories I still had out, and I said to myself, you know what, I'm ready. It's time. I can put this away now and be okay with it, and with myself. So I went back into that room, and I gently and carefully and lovingly "packed" my breast pump away and placed it in a nice storage place for, hopefully, later. Then I went in the kitchen and gently and carefully put away all the accessories and finally cleared up my kitchen counter. My work here is done, and I did my absolute best.
At 11 months, I started weaning my daughter into organic, no hormone whole milk. At the time, we were at a New York Whole Foods Market when I fed her 2 ounces of that milk for the first time ever in her life. She drank it up like nothing, didn't even notice the difference. But about 20 minutes later, she completely blew up her diaper, ha ha! I had to go into a crowded bathroom with a long line of ladies giving me the side eye because her diaper was very pungent, but not like the smell of roses, and she had to have a complete wardrobe change, AND, I went through all my wipees so I had to reach over for paper towels. Then I had to leave the dirty diaper in the trash can of that bathroom as I left that bathroom with head down in shame. Eh, whatever. Everybody poops. But over the next few weeks, it was fine. She adjusted just fine to the whole milk and is now all she drinks, along with the homemade baby food I make her. Well, that and the occasional nursing. I have continued to breastfeed her but now, it's down to just one time at night and today, I haven't breastfed her at all and I think this may be it. I think I am finally done and ready to let go. As much as I love to breastfeed her and comfort her and feel how happy and safe she is when she's nursing. How she holds my body with her little hand while she's doing it and kicks up her feet with joy then looks up at me with loving eyes when she's done and just stares at me, we both have to, "grow up" I guess, and move on. Move on to other levels of closeness that are needed as she goes into her toddler stage. I have done what I promised her I would do, and I never ever, ever ever, break the promises I make. Now I must stay strong, and take care of myself and my body, so that I can be strong for her, and take care of her. I'm sure I will continue to write down and reflect on my feelings towards breastfeeding. This has become such a passion for me and I want to continue to educate women about it so that more future babies will benefit from this amazing gift that God has given us as women and as mothers.
That night, right before I had the meltdown with my husband, I was actually researching how to become a lactation consultant. There, I said it, I put it out in the universe. Not something I will be able to manage right this moment, but it's something I see myself possibly revisiting down the line. I will definitely keep you posted. For now, I will continue to update this blog and use it as a sort of memoir to all my breastfeeding experiences after about six months into this, when I became so exhausted and worn out that I could not get myself to write a single word about the subject. But now, and I should be happy about this, I'm still working on being happy about this, but now, I should be happy that my chichis have been freed from captivity and I can put on a thick shirt and cover them up completely. No babies allowed. But although my body belongs to me again, and only me, I give you all my heart and my love, bambina. That I will never "pack up" and put away. It's you and me, por vida... And yes, I cried throughout this entire blog post.