This morning, I packed up an enormous plastic container full of breastfeeding and breastpumping supplies that I will not be using anymore. Yesterday was my last day of pumping, and although I made it much longer than I thought I would have, I still cried looking at that box full of gear. I hugged my babies and apologized to them for not doing better. It was really hard and yet in hindsight, I still feel like I should have done more. I endured considerable pain to try to get my boys milk. I had giant blisters, blood, cracks, mastitis, and clogged ducks. I spent so much money on supplements and prescriptions. I spent so much time at doctors’ appointments. I had such a strict pumping schedule that completely ruled my life. I pumped in cars, at work, in airports, on planes. I pumped in hotels and at game lodges with monkeys watching me curiously. I froze many, many bags of milk and fretted about transporting milk. I cried when my babies wouldn’t latch, and then cried some more when they did latch, and then cried some more when they stopped caring about latching. I bought pillows, covers, shirts, dresses, and so many bras. I cheered on the handful of times I was able to tandem nurse the boys at the same time, felt like I was at a turning point and from then on, it was going to be smooth sailing, only to find that the next time, they had no desire to nurse the same way. I nursed them wearing a surgical mask when I had the flu. I nursed them while listening to Simon and Garfunkel and singing The Boxer out loud. Even when I was producing more than 50 ounces of milk a day for them, it wasn’t enough. I still had to supplement them with formula.
The best that I can say is that I tried really hard, and now it is over. I didn’t make it a year. I made it ten months. In the beginning, I didn’t know if I was going to make it two weeks. Then, I didn’t know if I was going to make it a month, then six weeks, then three months, then six months, then eight months, then if I was going to be able to keep a supply while we were in South Africa. I made it until now. I don’t know if that is enough. I know babies grow up, and I am so excited about the little people they are becoming, but I miss that time with just me and them and Simon and Garfunkel. It hurt like hell physically, but it went by way too quickly.