If you are not a fan of terms such as: "breastfeeding," "expressing milk," "latching on," "coming down," "feeding," etc., this post is not for you. Move right along.
For the two of you who chose to keep reading, you were warned.
Tonight officially marked the end of it. For good. Lucy's bedtime bottle included the very last of the remaining frozen breast milk. I had been feeding and pumping until she was almost 10 months old and then my body was just telling me that the time had come. I wasn't making as much milk, Lucy was less and less interested in it the more we introduced table food, and frankly I was REEEEEEEEALLY sick of it. I was ready to have my body back. So I could do really fun things like drink five bottles of wine and overdose on ibuprofen after a long run. I CAN'T BELIEVE ALL THAT I WAS MISSING!
My original goal of twelve months seemed unlikely the way things were going, so I finally released myself of the guilt I was carrying about stopping earlier than I had planned and called it quits. I couldn't imagine that I would look back over my shoulder and think, "Boy, I'd like to go back to that!"
I was also ready to have that time back. Even when I had gotten down to just pumping and not FEEDING (buzz word) Lucy myself, it just takes time, and you have to go somewhere by yourself, then put the milk in bottles or freezer bags, clean all the parts, put away the pump, and I was just so done with all of THAT.
And like many things to do with parenting, I was surprised when it actually happened. As I was starting to make less and less milk my hormones were pretty out of whack. Paul would concur, I'm positive. And I think part of it was that I was so happy to have that phase be over while at the same time, so sad. I missed it. I missed that baby. I missed that time. I missed knowing I was doing something really wonderful for her. I missed it, period.
Tonight when I had the honor of giving Lucy her last bottle of breast milk, I found myself nostalgic in ways I never would have guessed; tears flooded my eyes and I smiled as I watched Lucy nod off drinking that very last bottle. Not only does this confirm that the baby we brought home from the hospital is nearing her first birthday and threatening to walk, and eating solid food, and, AND, AND...it also means that something that her and I shared - and ONLY the two of us shared - is over, and even stranger, that it will never be again.
Babies get big; I get it; that's the way it works. And stages come and go and that's why they are called stages. But as I washed my pump for the final time tonight (I had been avoiding doing this for a few weeks now) and put away freezer bags and other miscellaneous parts, I thought this is just another reminder to stop and soak up every second, because it goes so quick. And when you least expect it, you'll find yourself surprised by something you never saw coming. Welcome to the wild, wonderful, unpredictable world of being a parent.