Friday, 4 July 2014

Closing the chapter on baby years

Three days ago I expressed the last bottle of milk for my second son.

I breastfed my elder son for 1 year and my second son for 1.5 years. Subconsciously these years of breastfeeding and expressing milk got associated with many emotions and memories.

the depth of the emotional attachment that forms between your baby and you when he snuggles up and latches on for milk simply cannot be described adequately with words. With Luis he went fully onto the bottle around 6 months old after I haven't been regularly latching him. It was rather sad for me because I truly believe that this helps in forming a strong bond between you and your child.

that your baby will not fall sick. Lucas never went to the doctor due to falling sick during the year he was on breastmilk. Luis was not as lucky, probably due to the presence of an elder sibling at home who constantly contributes viruses and bacteria to his immunity building.

Me time...
Whenever I express milk I have at least 30 minutes to myself where I am not expected to do anything except engage in the noble act of producing supreme virus/bacteria-fighting milk for the defenseless baby. Especially for the after-work 'shift', I get to wind down and sit on the bed and watch my favourite Grey's Anatomy or Modern Family. For 30 minutes, I get some enjoyment.

On the other hand, monumental stress and fatigue...
Ok maybe an exaggeration. But looking back, I am impressed how I managed to get through those times. There were two particularly challenging ones for me.

One, at night. When it is 11pm and my eyelids and body are telling me to go to sleep, it takes enormous energy to sit up and express milk. Many times when I am done it is so late that my husband is already asleep.

Two, during travelling. When you have to travel for a week or more to Europe, with long plane rides and meetings, you have to plan at which time do you want to express milk, in the airport toilet or in the airplane toilet. When in the airplane toilet, at which time so that there is not a long queue outside the toilet. When in meetings, how to tell your colleagues or suppliers that you need time to express milk. And all the intervals between expressing milk needs to be within certain window period so that the milk supply does not drop.

When I stopped breastfeeding Lucas it was because I wanted to have a second child. I remember feeling not ready to let go. But I did it anyhow.

When I reached the 1-year mark with Luis, I was not ready to let go too. It has become a way of life even though it can be tiring at times. Many times. But gradually I cut down, guided by how ready I feel.
When I decided a week ago to stop entirely, it was because I felt that the 30minutes I take in the evening to express milk can be put to better quality time spent with the children. I was also kind of tired. I thought I was ready.

Surprisingly I was a little sad. When I packed my pump to give to my friend, the pang of sadness hit me again. It felt like a chapter of my life has closed and it is time to move on. I think many mothers would feel relieved to stop breastfeeding and I can understand that. What I feel is probably because I am a nostalgic person. Without realising it the long breastfeeding period have subconsciously planted many memories and emotions in my mind.
Also I have always wanted to have one more child so I am reluctant to close this baby chapter in my life. I guess this will always be my small regret. But how can I complain when I have two beautiful children? Sounds so cliche... but it's true, we all have to learn to appreciate what we have.

So bye bye breast pump... bye bye baby chapter... you are but an inanimate object but you have been a part of an important milestone in my life.

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