So this is it, I’m sorry it has to end like this. We used to spend hours together- early in the morning when no one else was awake and late at night watching episodes of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix. There were times that I was in so much pain without you- you were the only one who could take the hurt away.
But it’s over.
All those mornings, bleary eyed and chilled to the bone, and the late nights huddled in the dark together. They are no more.
She doesn’t want the bottle anymore- it’s nothing but the sippy cup. Those hundreds of frozen ounces will take months to drink.
I’m sorry breast pump, but we’re through.
Hey mommas. I know you know where I am in my head space. My brain is telling me I am doing all that I can, most of the time more, for Addie- but I feel such guilt. You know… the brain. It’s the thing that holds our brilliance, until that magical moment that our first born latches onto our breast (for me it was the left) and our brain slowly leaks out over the following months. It was once the only lumpy, crevassed part of me… now my thighs have joined the ranks, and even my brain is having trouble keeping up with the ridges and hills that have formed on this body that once was. My brain still harbors some intelligence. It reminds me daily about the milk I still pump everyday that is often remanded to the freezer for future use. We used to nurse at night, or once during the day, but teething and the shield have prevented that for months. Pumping was all I had left.
How will I provide for her now?
Surely the hours I spend researching insurance, making phone calls that are never returned, spending nap time hunched on all fours cleaning the floorboards into their grooves, limiting the use of salt on everything, doing squats while folding laundry, writing late into the night with just my wine and the light of the screen in front to keep me company, responding to the emails that flood into my inbox with questions, hate and curiosity- most of which I answer with love, compassion and understanding- in the name of representing my daughter with dignity and grace, and all the miles we drive to hear music, swim, meet new people, read a story or just not be alone- that’s just not enough.
I need to keep giving her milk. Milk she isn’t always interested in. I need that bond.
But who is the bond with?
Addie and I spend our days together. All of them. When people ask if we want another baby the answer is of course, but you only have one once. I will only be the mother of one once, and we have a connection I didn’t know existed int this world. While I miss the infant days, I love seeing all that she will do reflected in the glint of her blue eyes. I miss breastfeeding, but I felt that the pump still gave that nutrition. The bond we get in other ways- ways that Dave can’t provide- are still special to us. Playing in the bath together, long runs in the park, afternoon nap time in the breeze of the open windows.
So who have I been bonding with these past few months? A machine. And she is so hard to leave.
Sometimes, I hear her speak to me. The sound of the bladder inside forcing air out and sucking milk back- it speaks to me. Can you believe that? It used to say this is it, this is it. Or even in-out, in-out… Now, all it says is No more, No more, No more… Sometimes I can’t even hear the noise- the telltale pump sound- it just doesn’t resonate inside me anymore. After 13 months, it has become like the traffic of our busy street: life.
So what do you do when a part of life is ending?
I am passing through all the stages. I am angry that I am giving up, sad that it’s over, I wish there was more time, I am relieved to have the time back, I wish we’d never met, I hope we meet again. Maybe I just can’t believe Addie is 13 months and that is making this that much more difficult.
My brain, or what’s left of it, tells me that I’m doing all I should. Between the cups of water Addie consumes everyday and her love of goat’s milk, almond milk, organic whole milk and cheese, she is getting the calcium and hydration she needs… it’s me that needs to mo0(ve) on. The half hour I spend hooked up to my machine is better spent living life beside Addie and not watching her live it from behind my a/c powered pack. My mornings will be spent hooked to my baby and not a “hands-free set”, and my nights will be mine again.
I keep telling myself I’m doing all that I can, while part of me fights back, claiming that I won’t be providing for Addie anymore.
I’m sorry, Addie. Brain, you win.