The time has come again. The last bag of breast milk has left my freezer. The special deep freeze we bought specifically to store my breast milk after my oldest was born is now empty.
I was blessed with babies who caught on to breastfeeding fairly quickly and smoothly. We had our struggles, sure, but I always had enough milk. Often, even, too much (hence the second deep freezer).
I was able to donate breast milk with both boys, something I didn’t even realize was an option before I found myself with more than I had space to store. I felt blessed/honored to share it every single time. It’s an amazing feeling to know that the milk your body made helped lots of little ones grow and thrive.
But now that the time has come again, and my last bag of milk has left the house, I’m feeling sad. Sad this particular phase of motherhood is coming to an end. Sad I didn’t hold onto a bit more of the milk my body worked so hard to make. Sad I didn’t feel like pumping just a bit longer.
Pumping isn’t my favorite thing. I don’t know anyone who truly enjoys it. But it’s worth it for the result (in my opinion). But once my boys reached a year, I started getting a bit more slack about pumping. I quickly went from three times a day to two and sometimes only one.
This time, by the start of February I was only pumping on days when I felt super uncomfortable. And by March pumping was pretty much an afterthought. And I was OK with that until I realized that I was down to my LAST bag of milk.
My breastfeeding journey isn’t done yet, and I’m thankful for that too. My youngest, Henry, is 20 months old. He still nurses before/after daycare, and on weekends, and he has a lovely all-you-can-eat buffet pretty much every single night (the joys of co-sleeping).
My oldest, Jack, was ready to be done breastfeeding by 15 months. And although he was done a bit sooner than I was ready to be done, I was OK with our journey coming to an end. I followed his cues and did what was best for us both.
The second time around, I’m committed to sticking with it a bit longer. Henry is more invested at this point than Jack was, and I know how much I’ll miss it when we’re done. My original goal of 18 months has come and gone and we’re still going strong. I’m open to breastfeeding until 2 years. I’m not sure if we’ll make it longer than that, or if it will be the right fit for both of us, but right now I’m willing to go as long as he’s interested.
Because here’s the thing: Breastfeeding has turned out to be one of the highlights of motherhood for me. Sure, it’s hard at times. Frustrating, yes. Is there discomfort (HELLO teething)? Absolutely.
I’m certain I have put the whole experience on some kind of motherhood pedestal. But for me, it’s SO special. SO magical. Breastfeeding is love and comfort and snuggles and quiet time (usually) and nourishment all mixed into one beautiful package.
It’s the TOP reason I wanted to have a second child so I could do that all again. And it’s one of the biggest reasons I’m still contemplating a third kid despite being certain before now that our family would be complete with two.
A surprise good night of sleep left me feeling full and uncomfortable a couple of weeks ago, so I pumped for comfort (and sentimentality). So I still have ONE last bag of milk in my freezer. And I’m going to hold onto it a little bit longer.
After all, this mama worked hard to make that milk, and I’m not ready to close this chapter just yet.