(This is more of a personal post that I wrote a few days ago, and I know some of my friends tend to get (very) skeeved out about pumping and expressed breast milk, so if that applies to you, you may want to walk away right about now.)
I have one bag of pumped milk left in my freezer for little man, which he will get tomorrow morning at daycare.
I knew for a long time this day was going to come, but it is pretty emotional for me. I am still nursing him, one time per day on my long workdays, and two times per day the rest of the week. So, he has been getting one bag of frozen, pumped milk each day I work 10 hour shifts, which is two days a week. I will continue to nurse two times per day on my shorter and off days, but now on my long work days as of next week, I'm going to start sending him with a cup of coconut milk to supplement, as we don't really do cow's milk in this house.
When I first started to pump, as any new nursing mom will tell you, it was an odd miracle seeing what my body could produce and provide for my child. It is a very, very strange experience at first, seeing these amazing and crazy things your body can now do. Even that first half of an ounce is a complete success when you can give that to your child. As I progressed with the pump when I went back to work, it honestly became a bit of solace for me. In a long day, my two or three breaks to pump were just the calm I needed. It gave me time to think, to process, to relax if even only for a few minutes. I do have to say, I am very thankful that two out of the three of my jobs have spectacular pumping rooms, both including a comfy, private spot to relax enough to pump, one even having a couch and a television in the room! Pumping is something that some women have a really hard time with, and I've not had all of those problems. My supply has always been good, enough so that there was a point where I had a significant oversupply, and I was pumping 16 ounces at my first morning session before I left for work (DH does daycare drop off later in the morning on those days so little man can sleep in). I do believe that the pump had a large part of why I had clogged ducts and mastitis, because I was causing my body to produce more than little man was using on my days off. But in retrospect, that is what left me with such a significant freezer supply that I could continue to send him with milk to daycare even 6 months after I stopped pumping.
My body has done and continues to do beautiful, amazing things for these children that I am growing and raising. I do feel proud, that I have been able to provide for him for 17 months even when I am not with him, especially since I haven't pumped since just after he turned one year old. I feel thankful that I've been able to do that much for him. But at the same time - I feel sad, because - even though he probably couldn't care, I always felt that I was sending a little piece of me - a little bit of my love - off with him for the day when I couldn't be there.
I know it is difficult for some people to understand, especially some of my non-mama friends or those who didn't enjoy nursing or pumping. But, in my progression to becoming a mother, this has been one small but significant piece. It was my first experience with trusting my body fully and providing for this baby who I no longer carried around in my belly. Some women think that breast milk is 'gross' or nursing/feeding breast milk this long is 'wrong.' But to us, it is comfort, it is security, it is trust, it is love.
Babies don't stay babies forever, and I obviously have a limited time in which I will be nursing him or that he would have had pumped milk. I get that. It is just one more little thing that makes me think my little man is not so little anymore.