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Farewell 'frenemy' (aka breast pump)

Today was the first day I did not lug my "frenemy" to work with me.

It's liberating. But it's also bittersweet.

My frenemy, you see, is my breast pump.

Danielle turned 1 earlier this month (more on that in a future post), and has mostly transitioned to cow's milk.

I was committed to the idea of breastfeeding, but I honestly didn't know how long I could sustain it after returning to a full-time job after maternity leave. And I honestly didn't anticipate the enormity of the emotional component of nursing.

There's something so vulnerable, so dependent, so natural, so utterly baby about nursing. Getting the hang of it, however, is trial-and-error -- or in the case of production and latch, luck of the draw.

There were the days of low production (probably stress- and dehydration-induced looking back), which instantly signaled panic and thoughts of "I must be drying up" and followed by the chugging of much water and the consumption of much oatmeal. Then there were the days of plenty and that feeling of great accomplishment that came with.

Breast milk is liquid gold, you see. Nary a drop can be spilled or wasted. The storms in the fall set me off in a tizzy and I preemptively took a cooler of milk to my grandma's apartment, which has generator backup power. I wanted to cry when my husband accidentally poured a container of milk into a bottle without a liner.

A few days ago, I thawed the last of my freezer stash. It was Christmas milk, I informed Danielle.

With pumping done and nursing nearing an end, I'm a bit sentimental. Just last week, I was running an errand at the Columbia mall and saw a mom nursing her baby under a wrap. Immediately, I got a lump in my throat.

On the other hand, I will not miss:
-Hauling the 11-pound pump bag to and from work everyday
-Scheduling meetings and meals and errands around 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. pumping times
-Holing up in my office, wondering if my co-workers think I suffer from twice-daily bouts of anti-socialism
-Forgetting my micro-steam bag in the office kitchen … often … and probably irritating and weirding out colleagues in doing so
-Having to turn around my car en route to work, multiple times, realizing I forgot the pump accessories or cooler bag
-Dressing in pumping-friendly outfits or, on the occasion I decide I want to wear a dress, feeling absolutely ridiculous sitting in my office (door closed!) in my skivvies so I can pump

There were days I wanted to throw the pump out the window. But then I think of all those months of bottled milk and I think it's all worth it.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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