I never wanted to be an exclusive pumper. It’s something that just sort of happened. The complications Connor had when he was born made it impossible for me to nurse him. So a lactation consultant showed up in my postpartum room 16 hours after he was born to show me what to do.
I pumped for 14 months – far longer than I ever expected to. Over 8,500 ounces of breast milk, countless hours and sleepless nights. I had to plan all of my outings around my pump schedule, excuse myself from get togethers to hide in another room, deal with clogged ducts and painful swollen breasts. It was something I hated at first and then eventually it just became another thing I had to do – like brushing my teeth or my washing my face. Habit.
I told myself I’d pump for six months. Then when I got there I decided maybe 8 or 9. That became 12. Then I thought I would just continue until Connor didn’t need his g tube anymore but ultimately I knew that when the time was right I would know.
The last week of August Connor had a terrible stomach bug. It resulted in Matt and I making the parental decision to not do his night feed (the only time the g tube was being used) in order to give his tummy a break and to give Connor the opportunity to eat only when he felt like it. After four days of not using his g tube and speaking with his care team, we decided to eliminate the g tube use altogether. It wasn’t long after that I decided it was time to stop pumping.
I was asked many times why I continued to pump. With the health issues Connor had, it felt like the only thing I could do to help him during those long nights he was in the NICU. And then it became second nature. Like I was running toward a tree and I’d tell myself that I could stop when I get to the tree. Only when I got to the tree I decided I would keep running just a little further. It was something that I had gotten used to and trying to break that habit seemed more difficult than just continuing on. Until it didn’t.
This past Sunday I packed up my breast pump and all my pump parts and put them away in the garage. I didn’t feel emotional about it as I’ve heard some women do. But it did make me pause and reflect, thus my writing this post. It is yet another milestone our family has reached since Connor was born and looking back on these last 14 months I’m reminded how truly hard and amazing our journey has been and I’m forever grateful for everything.