I dressed this morning, reaching to the very back of my top dresser drawer to pull out a bra I haven’t worn in over a year. I chose an outfit without worrying about easy access. I left for work without the large black tote bag which has carried my breast pump, cooler bag, ice pack, and other accoutrements of the working nursing mom for the last ten months, and, feeling a little lighter, I walked to the train station this crisp fall morning, instead of waiting for a bus.
It was bittersweet.
This in no way marks the end of breastfeeding for Julian and me. I nursed him as usual this morning before we got out of bed, and I’ll do so again tonight, and the next day, and for the foreseeable future until it feels right for both of us to stop. But now that we’ve reached the one-year mark, and Julian is happily tucking into nearly every food item we put in front of him, I have decided to take the first small step toward weaning by no longer pumping at work.
The pumping itself, I won’t miss. The the lugging of equipment on public transportation, the physical pain and discomfort from missed sessions, the spilled milk, the clogged ducts… I’m quite happy to put all of those things behind me.
But it’s bittersweet.
In some ways, this marks the beginning of the end. Soon this special thing I have shared with my son and no one else will be behind us, and he’ll need me a little less, and there will be one fewer thing I can do to comfort him.
I feel lucky and grateful to have made it this far, to have persevered, and I am grateful that I was able to feed my son in the best way for us from the time I returned to work at 10 weeks postpartum to the present. But…
I’m not going to lie – it has been fraught. Difficult. Harder than it should be, I think, in this day and age, in this country.
The law protects a woman’s right to breastfeed, and to express milk after returning to work, and provides that you have a safe, clean, private place to do so, but in reality… let’s just say I haven’t always felt so supported. I shed a lot of tears about that. I felt shamed, at times, and I questioned my judgment, and frankly, that’s just wrong.
Things got better and easier after our move and the changes to my work situation, and I feel like I am now in a place where *I* am the one making the decision to wean, like *I* am the one in control, that my hand is not being forced by someone else, or that I’m being punished for the decisions I’ve made about how to feed my child.
But I’m sad that such a beautiful part of my life, and Julian’s, is tied up with such ugly and difficult memories for me.
And this really resonates.