On Hanging Up the Horns

When Little C was born, my only breastfeeding goal was to keep providing breastmilk for as long as I possibly could. But now, at a little over 9 months, I'm afraid it's time for me to, as they say in breastfeeding circles, "hang up the horns".

Sometimes I wish I still had this with Little C
The notion of weaning first came to me last December, when a tearing wound forced me to stop using the pump and just hand express one breast, while using the pump on the other. Because I pump 10 times a day, the tear simply didn't have enough time to heal. I couldn't stop pumping because that would kill my already barely-enough supply, but I couldn't keep using the pump because the tear just kept getting worse and worse. Big C asked me, very gently, that maybe, just maybe, it's time to wean already. The thought brought me near tears and I couldn't explain why I couldn't stop yet, just that I couldn't.

A conversation with Maricel of Medela Moms shed some light on the subject. She said that my inexplicable reluctance to stop pumping milk for my son was completely normal and that most breastfeeding and pumping moms have gone through it at one time or another. She also told me that in most cases, there will come a day when you will finally feel okay with weaning, but before that day comes, you shouldn't force it. If there is still something in you that feels like you need to keep going, then do so by all means.

So I kept on.

Since December, I have persisted with hand expressing, but lately, I've noticed that my supply has been dipping. Alarmingly low, to the point that my supply was just half of what it used to be. Plus, despite my diligence with pumping and hand expressing, I suffered from clogged ducts which gave me a fever and kept me out of commission for two days. And so, I finally accepted that maybe it's time for me to wean. The thought of finally, completely weaning my son from my milk makes me feel a little weepy and sad, and regretful of how I didn't persist with direct feeding. Maybe if I did, I wouldn't have to wean Little C just yet.

At the time, I made the decision to exclusively pump based on what my entire family needed and while I am satisfied with what I have been able to do for Little C, some little part of me wishes that I could keep feeding my son with my own milk. Especially now that he's gotten so big and growing up so quickly, I yearn for the time when he was just a tiny baby and he would fall asleep in my arms because he was full from drinking my milk. In my mind's eye, I can still see the way he looked then as he unlatched from my breast, eyes closed, face still and peaceful, milk dribbling out from the corner of his mouth.

But, it is what it is, and now, 9 months later, my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end. With my milk supply dwindling by the day, I cut back my pumping sessions from 10 a day to just 6 a day. While a small part of me is relieved that I'm almost done, there's an even larger part of me that feels sad, because as Big C said, this marks the end of a very special phase in my son's young life. But as Big C also pointed out, our Little C is very lucky that he was able to go through that phase, when so many other kids don't.

So now, it's almost time for me to pack up my trusty PISA, which has served me well. I bought it when I was still pumping for J, but it really got a workout with Little C. This Medela pump was a sturdy and reliable friend and I've gotten so used to having it around. For moms who are seriously planning to breastfeed their babies, a double pump is an investment that is worth it. I highly recommend the Medela pumps, and Medela Moms offers great after-sales service. In addition to taking good care of your pump for you, they'll also provide you with much needed support and advice throughout your breastfeeding journey. For this, I thank Medela Moms, especially Mommy Maricel. To be fair, I should mention that I never had a chance to deal with Beng, the other Medela Mom, which is why I never mention her. :-)

As of this post, I am still unable to let go of providing milk for my son. While I look forward to the day when I finally hang up the horns, I'm grateful that I'm still able to get through one more day.

Have a happy, albeit rainy, weekend!


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