Exclusively pumping is like running a marathon. You start out with the best of intentions and goals. You'll pump as long as this child needs you to pump! You pump 8-10 times a day. It is mind-numbling boring and sometimes a bit painful. The amount of time you spend pumping each day never seems to decrease. Sometimes you'll ask for advice on how to get more efficient and people will tell you to throw in another pump session to boost your output. You pump in the strangest of places because while you may travel away from home, your boobs can't leave the pump behind. You'll waver. You'll stop at the water station and think, I'm not going to finish this race. I'm ready to throw in the pump.
And if the pumping marathon finish line is one year, I'm getting ready to quit the race halfway through. I've been sprinting for the last 13.1 miles and I'm done. My training partner keeps trying to trip me up. She doesn't like waiting for the milk to be produced but won't drink from the tap. She's getting more wiggly and doesn't want to sit while I pump. Her cohort sister is either a great supporter (MORE PUMP, MAMA!) or a great hinderance (NO PUMP, MAMA!). And my body keeps rebelling. I've had mastitis three times, three painful times. My output has decreased with each instance and Maggie is thriving on a mix of breast milk, formula and solid food. I've made it this far and I'm done. This is the end of my breastfeeding career and I can say it was a wild one.
All in all though, I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished with breastfeeding it certainly didn't go the way I expected but little in life does. In some ways, it was easier than I expected and in other ways, it was WAY more difficult than I thought it would be. I fed both my babies with some breast milk for some period of time which is great. Now I get to reclaim hours of my day back. I won't have to rush home to pump. I'm a bit giddy at the freedom, I see within my grasp. I'm also excited to really start exercising again. Each time I've tried while pumping, I've gotten sick.
I do have some guilt at weaning from the pump. Logically, I know this is worthless guilt as I've done everything to help Maggie breast feed and in the end get breast milk but emotionally, I feel a bit like I'm letting Maggie down. The heart and the head don't always meet in a logical place. The thing is at some point I am going to wean from the pump. I may be doing it a few months earlier and I really can't continue with the status quo. Three bouts with mastitis just does a person in! I have started the pump weaning process and I plan to take it slow so that I don't get sick again. I've been pumping 4x a day and shortening the amount of time that I pump. I was pumping 30 minutes each time. Now I pump 25 minutes each time and I'll be dropping that down to 22 minutes after a few days. I'll continue dropping down the minutes I pump until I'm down to 5 minutes when I'll start dropping pumps. It's a long, slow process but one I'm trying to be careful with.
All in all, this little face made all the pumping worth it. Her cubby little thighs are proof of my efforts which is a reward in itself. Now we're moving on to a new stage in her food adventure and I can't wait to continue to introduce her to all the yummy food out there. She's already a huge fan of sweet potatoes, apples and bananas.