You turned 1 today. One year old. The last 12 months have been a blur. But one aspect has been highlighted throughout our time together … breastfeeding. And now it is time to say farewell. For good.
As the third child, your journey of breastfeeding has been different in so many ways.
With your oldest sister everything was a struggle. Neither of us knew what we were doing – she kept losing weight, she was jaundiced, she wouldn’t latch (for more than three months). Every feeding session was an ordeal, whereby both of us ended up half naked. But we made it. We nursed for more than a year and when we were done I somehow had gallons (well maybe liters) of milk in the freezer.
With No. 2 the struggle was shorter lived and she was healthier and very active! So active, that we ended up stopping at 9 months … I was tired, she was hungry… I was done. I remember sitting with her for the last evening feeding KNOWING that was it. No more milk. No more nursing. Ever. The stress of my job and her appetite at that point in life made this an easy decision for both of us and she never looked back.
Then came YOU, my baby. My sweet unexpected baby girl. More than four years had passed since I had nursed an infant (which makes it doubly weird that I still had my breast pump and nursing bras). You took to eating from the second you came out. We were both calm, confident, and ready, and everything happened so naturally. It was the breastfeeding relationship I had always envisioned while pregnant – zero issues with latch or supply or … anything. You could feed anywhere! I totally felt like I could have been a pioneer woman out gardening and feeding you at the same time, we were so good at it, nothing stood in our way – airplanes, cars, grocery stores, your sister’s school, church … no matter where we were, when you were hungry, we made it happen with no embarrassment, issues, no fuss at all.
But the pumping. I HATED the pumping. The inevitable nemesis of the working mother. Lugging the big black box to work and back each day. Washing the bottles, remembering when to freeze and thaw the right amounts and all the storage rules to keep it from going sour. Making sure the tubing didn’t accumulate condensation, sanitizing all the parts. Hooking myself up to this dreaded machine three times a day (at least) every day. Not to mention the countless people who walked right up to my office door to be turned away by the “Please do not disturb” sign and the faint Darth Vader inhale and exhale heard beyond — I bet they didn’t like the pumping either.
Also the uniform. Not just nursing bras and tanks, but specialty hands-free tops that made pumping easier and allowed me to work while I pumped. I highly recommend them, but at almost $50 a pop, I had just two. Two tank/bras that I alternated ALL YEAR LONG … to make feeding you easier for both of us in spite of my job and your schedule. With only two undergarment options, the rest of my wardrobe was pretty set as well, which made getting ready in the morning easier, but I am now ready for a little variety – maybe a dress once in a while?
I can’t put into words how I feel about being the center of your world though. In retrospect it was all so touching and beautiful to have that bond with you that no one else could or would ever have … while the reality of it was so often maddening and stressful, to put it mildly. Being consistently attached at the hip (or face the dreaded pump once again), I will now remember with fondness in spite of the missed outings with friends, lack of sleep, and general malaise that at the time was so apparent.
I tear up just writing this letter in anticipation of our last session, which is surely right around the corner. And while I was able to say goodbye to the pump several weeks ago, with great joy, I haven’t been quite ready to say goodbye to this version of us just yet, so I’ll hold onto our morning and night feedings just a little longer if that’s OK? Here’s to never forgetting, always remembering, and learning to enjoy the next phase of us. Happy birthday baby.
Erin Tarr is the founder of Be the Benchmark guiding teen and tween girls to become the best version of themselves through intentional mentoring and coaching. She created this business in response to the world and life she envisions for her own three daughters (ages 8, 5 and 1).
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