I loved breastfeeding. I know many women feel differently, but after a painful learning process with my first son, I found the experience amazing. While pregnant with my third baby, the last baby we would have, I could not wait to hold her close and nurse her for many months to come.
After successfully breastfeeding my other two children I was surprised at the difficulty my daughter had trying to nurse. The nurses would all say, “Oh, you have nursed before but she has not. It will happen.” When the difficulties continued I was told I would need to find another way to feed her. I asked for a breast pump and I would pump while my husband would finger feed her with a syringe and tube to encourage her to learn the ropes. We laughed at the craziness of it all and assumed this would all be short lived.
When we returned from the hospital I tried my hardest to get down to business and provide for this lovely new life I had brought home. I had successfully nourished two other children and fully intended to do so with number three. Oh, but the stress! Baby losing weight and mama losing her mind.
Six days after my daughter was born it was finally discovered that she was born with a cleft palate that had gone undiagnosed. It was official, part of the relationship I’d dreamed of for nine months was over. I would never be able to nurse my baby. I couldn’t believe how much it broke my heart. It still does. I can’t believe I have tears left for it after all this time. This mama’s desire runs deep.
With a heavy heart I returned to the breast pump. Like a good friend it quietly took its place and gave me what I needed. It listened as I cried and cried and cried over what I would never have. It didn’t judge and never failed.
After my resentment toward pumping waned I began to look forward to it. I purchased a hands-free bra and was able to pump while reading, drinking tea, and in complete moments of domestic efficiency, fold laundry. I started to realize that this not only gave me time to pause in my day, but also an excuse to give more responsibility to my husband. If the baby pooped, the kids needed something, or there was a fight to break up I always had an excuse. “Get daddy,” I’d shout. “I’m pumping and just can’t get to that right now.”
When I made the decision to stop pumping after 13 months I assumed I would have been thrilled, but the decision to let it go proved harder than I thought. The hours I spent collecting milk for my baby had played a big part in our lives. It allowed her to thrive and helped her heal after the surgery necessary to repair her palate. I came to realize that weaning is weaning and for me it was hard.
It still stings when I see other mamas nursing their babies, that chapter of my life was closed before I was ready. Yet, I did find many moments of bliss once the Medela Symphony and I parted ways. Books were free to hang out on my bedside table! Goodbye to nursing bras! Look at all the time I’ve added to my day! Best of all, no more crying over spilled milk.