When my first son was born, there was not a doubt in my mind that I wanted him to be breast fed. Mother Nature however had different ideas and he was never able to properly latch on. So I turned to pumping. But being a first time mom, I had a gazillion other things to stress over and so when formula was offered to supplement my starving baby, I didn’t hesitate to give in.
I tried everything in the book to increase my milk supply, but pumping milk for Aiden was never in abundant supply. Still, I brought my breast pump with me everywhere I went. Lunch breaks at work were spent hooked up to the machine. Day trips meant packing my bulky breast pump with me, on top of my huge diaper bag. It was an inconvenience but it didn’t matter. It was for my child.
Shortly before he turned one, his day care provider came down with the dreaded swine flu, and to this day I credit his not catching it to the fact that he was still on a few bottles of breast milk a day. While not a lot, I managed to pump a few bottles for him until he was 15 months old. I only stopped because I discovered I was pregnant again.
When my second one was born, somehow something went right and I practically had enough milk to feed the whole nursery! I went from being happy to pump 8 ounces a day with my first child to pumping 30-36 ounces of milk in just one sitting after having Lucas. Both my children, just 22 months apart, had pure breast milk everyday up until the older one was three.
After that, my milk supply naturally dwindled, but I was still pumping quite a bit. The problem was not supply, it was time. Who has time to sit down and pump milk 4-5 times a day with two very active toddlers running around (and tearing up) the house?
Fast forward to the present with a 4 and 2 year old in our home. The older one drinks organic cow’s milk like it was water. The younger one, apparently allergic to soy and a whole slew of other things, needs to drink soy milk – but I still supplement with a few bottles of breast milk a day. I figure, my milk is the one thing he isn’t allergic to, so why not?
I had decided that once Lucas turned 2, I would stop pumping milk for him. His birthday came and went – and so I told myself I would stop just before we went on our ski trip. But then with the cold weather up in the mountains and the terrible flu strain going around, maybe it wouldn’t be so awful to bring my pump with me and just give my little one an extra boost against catching something.
I have found a thousand reasons why I should keep at it just a little bit longer. But the truth is, I am only pumping once a day now. There is barely enough milk to fill a bottle anymore. But I just can’t bring myself to wean him from breast milk ( and the bottle ) once and for all.
Being bottle fed with my breast milk, I obviously am not holding on to that actual physical bonding that one usual gets from nursing one’s child. Yet the bond is still there. I look at my 2 year old ( who thinks that he is 4 like his brother) and I know he is no longer a baby. But part of me just can’t seem to let go.
This year I am turning 42 and that means that we are certain that Lucas will be our last baby. Maybe that is where the problem lies. Once the breast milk stops, does that mean that he will stop being my baby?
I already know the answer to that. Whether my boys are 2 or 4 or 42 – they will always be my babies. I’ll stop pumping one day soon. Or at least a couple days after that.
About the Author:
Cristina Peczon-Rodriguez was a newscaster, TV host, commercial model, and newspaper columnist in Manila. She now lives in Orange County,CA with her husband and two young sons.