I sit here making silly puns for something that doesn't seem so silly to me.
As a loss parent, parenting a living child for the first time after the loss, it's hard/impossible(?) to know which feelings are normal for a parent and which come from my experience with loss.
After a few weeks of very challenging feedings with Brayden, the doctor has agreed that Brayden is suffering from symptoms of reflux. We've had to make a whole bunch of little changes, and along with those changes I've decided to stop pumping breastmilk for him.
For weeks I've worried that there's something in my milk that's not agreeing with him, but I struggle to commit to changing my diet. The idea of that makes me stressed. Of documenting every little thing I eat. I barely have time to prepare food let alone dissect every meal. But at the same time, the idea of my milk hurting him makes me stressed. Seems like a no win. So I thought, he's doing fine on the formula, maybe it's for the best if I unplug the pump. No more breastmilk for Brayden.
Well. This decision has sent me on a tailspin and I think I've traced it back to that moment, over a year ago, when after Ryan had died, my sister tapped me on the shoulder to discreetly let me know I was leaking. It's a moment so burned into my memory I could tell you what shirt I was wearing that day. I can't begin to explain the horror I felt in that moment, realizing that I had no baby to care for, but my body thought I did. Shouldn't it have gotten the message? No. Instead, I had to spend a few days in the great discomfort of engorged breasts and all of the emotional baggage that went with them.
Fast forward to now. Here I am, with milk to give a living child, and I'm choosing not to. So I can change my diet and keep pumping, all while trying to feed Brayden on an every 2 hour schedule. Or continue to eat what I'd like, dropkick the pump out of my life, and just focus on managing this reflux thing. I can tell you which one sounds easier, and which one I've chosen. I just feel like I'm letting my boy down. (Let down... another breast-feeding pun! I'm on a roll...)
But seriously. All I've wanted to do since Brayden was born was to soak him up. Enjoy him. But between all of these feeding issues it's started to feel like the opposite. So, as the title says, I think hanging up the pump really is for the best. Even though it makes me so sad. So sad to think that I would have given anything to breastfeed Ryan.
It's this weird little reminder that I've idealized him in my head. I imagined this incredible bonding over breastfeeding. A beautiful closeness like they describe in all the books. I never imagined both of us crying in the middle of the night. Pain. Stress. Worry that my milk was causing him pain.
I guess what I'm here to write about today is a justification. As if by explaining that the stress of it was getting to be too much would make me feel okay about "quitting." It doesn't. I still feel sad. But I know it's for the best. As a nurse once told me, first and foremost, a baby needs a happy mom.
Most women cheer and celebrate when they decide to give up pumping. It's such a "hassle" to be "chained to the pump." It's a reclaiming of freedom of sorts. I think eventually I'll get to that place of celebration. But for now I think I'm hanging on a bit to the guilt.
I will have to find a way to let that go.