My yearlong relationship with my Medela Pump In Style is over. Today, I packed away the tubes and bottles and other apparatus, hopefully to be called into service again someday.
I hesitate to say that marking the end of my pumping career with Kid #1 was the One Fabulous Thing about today, because that implies that pumping was all horrible and I am so glad it’s over, and that’s not exactly how I feel. My breastfeeding career with Kid #1 is still ongoing for now; but, not taking the pump to work, not calculating ounces in my head after each pumping session, not making up bottles with ratios of fresh to frozen to cow’s milk feels like it is an end, even if it’s not The End.
What I maybe heard before having a baby, (but didn’t pay enough attention to), is that having a child is an ongoing series of small separations – starting at birth, and ending probably never. When the baby was born, he was given to my husband while his former home was repaired by the fine surgeons that had just evacuated him. As soon as I was returned to my room, he was given to me, and it was six weeks or so before he was more than 5 feet away. Mostly he was held in my arms, worn in a sling, curled next to me in bed. He was a great eater from the beginning, nursing like a champ. I feel incredibly fortunate that my biology and physiology worked so well with his in this way.
Around 6 weeks, I realized that for a certain period of the day the baby preferred laying on a blanket or activity mat, kicking his arms and legs and looking around at the world. Heartbreak! He didn’t need to be thisclose to me all the time anymore.
The hits kept on coming over the next few months. Around 5 months he moved into his own crib after we clearly got the message that he needed his own space while sleeping. At 6 months, he had his first bites of food other than breastmilk. At 7 months, he was able to crawl away from me, and he did. Since then, every day he makes another advance toward independence. He eats sandwiches now. Sandwiches!
The amount and variety of solid food that he takes in has increased steadily, and the tipping point has been reached where he no longer needs the safety net of the nutritionally complete breastmilk that I so carefully pumped, stored, and served him for his first year of life. I’m not sad to see the pump go, or the tedious bottle-washing and prep (he drinks from cups now. Cups!), or the endless calculations that came with every separation of more than a few hours. But I am sad to see it go – the rituals that translated into the early care and feeding of that little person, the neatly-packaged food source that I knew was meeting his needs.
Now, as is appropriate for his age, we begin the dance of me thoughtfully preparing foods that some days he will love, and some days he will reject. Some days he will eat more than I think his belly can hold, and others he will feed things mostly to the dog.
It is fabulous though, getting him this far, negotiating each new step. It’s fabulous figuring this all out, looking back at the little helpless baby that started out the year and then watching the sturdy kid pulling raisins out of the snack drawer this morning.
So, Fabulous Thing #31: An end, but really a beginning.