I have given breastfeeding my all. Through latch issues. Through prematurity. Through low-supply issues. I kept it up because, though it never went as planned, that was the little bit of myself I could give Zach each and every day. When the physical nursing stopped and the exclusive pumping began, it became tedious and miserable, and I kept at it. Zach will be 8 months old next week, and he has been at least partially fed breastmilk all along.
I did some math in my head. I have pumped on average of every 3 hours. Sometimes more, up to every hour when I was trying desperately to boost supply, and sometimes less, like on those really busy nights at work. Every 3 hours is again just an average. And I pump for no less than 15 minutes at a time. 8 times a day. So about 2 hours a day, total. If you figure Zach has been on this earth for about 240 days, I have pumped 480 hours of my life away. 20 days.
I am saying all of this because I have a feeling it is winding up to a close. My supply is at a low point again, and while I am once again going to try to get it back up, I know I am honestly getting a little tired of the monotony. It becomes harder and harder to do. I want to spend my time playing with my baby as more and more of his fun personality emerges. I want to sleep for more than 2 to 3 hours at a time, and could do so with my baby who sleeps like a dream, if only I weren't forcing myself to wake so often to pump. I want to go to do things with my family without worrying about pump battery life or where I am going to go to do it. And I am drained from stressing about every teensy drop of milk I produce for Zach.
I remember the warmth and closeness I felt the first time he nursed. I remember the special first weeks when it was just the two of us. We would lay together, with him nursing, as we both dozed. My beautiful baby boy. And the first time I pumped more than he could take at a feeding! That pride as, even when he stopped nursing, I was still able to give him my milk. I would do it all again.
I have thought about giving up, and I am sure I don't want to do that. I will continue to give him all I can. But if the process is coming to a close naturally, I think I can find peace with that now. I couldn't say that before. I think, with the horrible pregnancy and birth, I just wanted that little piece. That teensy chance to do something that was the way nature intended. With the troubles that I have had, I didn't think we would make it past my maternity leave. I never dreamed we would get 8 months under our belts. And it has paid off. One look at my chunky preemie can tell you that. My preemie who hasn't had so much as a tiny cold since his birth.
I hope it isn't the end. But we will be okay now if it is. I did all I could. I was stronger than I ever thought I could be. It has been quite the journey.