I wrote this “letter” to my breast pump the week after I officially retired from pumping last summer. It’s been a while since then, but I recently revisited the draft and wondered if others felt the same way about this crazy lil’ machine…
Ours is a complicated relationship.
I am so grateful for you, yet so often curse you. What’s the right label here…love/hate? Frenemy, perhaps? Regardless of the definition, our relationship is officially over, and suddenly I have all sorts of feelings.
You’re an amazing little contraption.
A blessing to so many women. I graciously thank whomever invented you for allowing me to feed my babies breastmilk even though I had to spend many hours apart from each of them. There are so many choices for new parents to make, and two really big ones are to work or not and to breastfeed or not (or some level in between for either). If the answer is yes to both of those (or a number of other situations that lead a woman to pump), you, dear breast pump, play such a major role in that woman’s life, and yet there’s so little focus ever put on you. Mamas sing to high Heaven about their love of the Rock n’ Play, their baby carrier, their stroller…who is sharing praises about their breast pump? No one I’ve heard from lately. You work no small miracle, mighty machine, and for that I thank you.
Yet, I loathe you at the same time.
Scheduling my life in 3-hour increments, the giant bag for all the equipment plus the cooler bag with ice packs I had to lug everywhere, the always-reappearing pile of oddly-shaped parts to wash…no, I will not miss any of these things. This was the first week in a very long time that I only needed a normal-sized handbag for work, and it felt like a whole new level of freedom. I’ve unblocked the recurring “breaks” from my Outlook calendar, and my time seems so incredibly flexible. I’m not quite there yet, but pretty soon, I’ll probably stop thinking about my boobs quite so often. There’s this weight that has been lifted off my chest (pun intended?) and my responsibility load feels just a bit lighter.
I never anticipated the end of our relationship would be bittersweet, considering I’ve looked forward to this day since, oh, about my third time pumping. Aside from the fact that I’m nostalgic by nature and have been known to cling to things for sentimental value (just ask my poor husband), I’m going to miss you. When again will I have regular 15-minute “escapes” allllll to myself, with not a single bit of guilt about it? (Sure, I had other complaints, but not guilt.) When again will I feel so amazed by what my body can do, and so tangibly SEE the physical evidence? Talk about instant gratification!
I’m not sad my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end. It has hands down been one of my biggest challenges of motherhood, and I’m proud of how long I fed my children this way. I didn’t make it to the magical 1-year mark with either, but I made it close, and most full-time working mothers (hopefully some other mothers too) would agree that my efforts were valiant. I support and celebrate mothers who choose to breastfeed longer, shorter, or not at all – this was right for me. And soon you, dear mommy-milk-machine, will be sent off to Medela’s breast pump recycling program, so I bid you a fond farewell.