Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dear Breast Pump,

Listen, I think we need to talk. This just isn’t working for me anymore. I’ve tried to figure out a way for us to move forward, spending more time together, making things special, remembering that you only want the best for me and my baby… But it hasn’t been good for a while now and after seven months I just have to know and trust myself that we need to let this go. We tried. There’s nothing you can say to me anymore. I wish you well, but goodbye…

And I swear to God it takes this level of commitment to get this infernal contraption out of my life.

Willa does not eat by mouth. She was never that into it as we say, it’s a universal Costello trait that held true and so I have been pumping since the day she was born, every three or so hours for seven months now and I am done. It’s killing me.

I looked up weaning in my trusty What to Expect The First Year and Jesus H. Christ; I haven’t been guilted this much since catholic school. You would think I was holding a meeting with the baby saying, “Look, I don’t love you as much as I should and I am going to take something away from you now that is incredibly important all because I am a selfish bastard who can never provide you with what you really need. Let’s just get that out of the way now.”

The other charming advice centers on how you are going to have an emotional meltdown as you sacrifice this bond with your child, throwing it away to oblivion, never to reclaim the closeness again. Once you sever the emotional attachment of breastfeeding you are half the mom you used to be. Well, sure I have an emotional attachment to the breast pump, in fact a codependent very unhealthy relationship but still… I will be happy to see the back of it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why? I mean really. I agonized over this decision for weeks, pumps attached to breast, wrestling with the decision. Then I told my husband. I asked him if he thought I was a bad mother. I sat on it more. Then I broached the subject with Willa’s nurses, on separate days, independently, testing out the words, listening to how it all sounded, “I’m thinking about weaning Biscuits.” I’d pause. “I mean, it’s been seven months and I am just so worn out and I’m not really producing any more and I think she’s gotten the important start she needed.” I wait again. I expect them to turn towards me, mothers themselves, nurses by profession safeguarding the health and well being of their young charges, I expect them to say, “You have to be kidding. Are you trying to kill your daughter?”

But they don’t. Not at all. They say, “That makes a lot of sense.” My husband says, “You did a fantastic job.” My heart tells me that it is just as full of fiery love for my girl as it was when the contraption pumped away. My breasts say, “Save us.”

And the rub of it all? Baby responds better to formula than to my breast milk. She’s more comfortable. She pukes less. She’s fine. Just fine. There is no haunting look in her eyes pleading me not to abandon her, there’s no hesitation in her grasp of my index finger. She appears to love me just as much.

So, bye bye breast pump. Thank you for our time together but now that it’s done I release you, and more importantly, I release myself.



Ants227 said...

beautiful. xo - LNA

Little Terry said...

Oh, how I hated the breast pump and its futile attempt to wrench liquid from my body. And worse, my guilt over feeling I ought to sacrifice everything in order to nurture my infant with my own blood if need be.

(Ahem.) Good for you. Good mom? I'm sure you're a great mom. And you showed -separately from your parenting potential - some serious determination for sticking with pumping so long. Also a helpful trait for parenting.

Best wishes.

Chrystal said...

I saw your link in the comment you left to the NY Times article.

What a great first post for me to read. I, too, pumped for 7 months. It was hard to let go. I thought I was doing my daughter such a disservice and that she would surely catch every disease known to man once on formula.

You're a great mom. From one pumper to another, I understand. EPers don't get enough props, I say.

Jennifer said...

I came over from your post on the NY Times too. I loved this piece. I think I made it six months on the pump. My daughter is almost nine months now, I had two months of milk stored for her so she just went full-time on formula two weeks ago. I felt just like you, making the break from the pump and as the supplies ran low I almost plugged back in--crazy as that sounds. But wouldn't you know it, she loves the formula--loves it, hasn't left a drop since the big switch and I used to have to force the breast milk down. Ugh, kids...
Anyway, love your blog and look forward to following you on your journey.