The last pump

So my first pump started with blood.
And my last pump ended with blood.

I've been thinking of officially stopping at the end of the month, but for the past two weeks I've been battling with this strange skin peeling on my right nipple.

It is strange because I'm only pumping twice a day, and since a few days ago, I've been down to one pump a day.
And each pump lasts less than 20 minutes.

The skin grows back during the day but peels off after pumping and feels really raw and painful.

I have been producing less too. A steady 10ml decline per pump.
So the husband thinks I should stop anyway when I told him about the peeling skin.

But I thought, why not stop at the end of the month, when lil boss turns exactly eight months?
It's painful but bearable. Afterall I've had 6 mastitis attacks. This raw tingling pain, I can handle.

I guess I'm being a sentimental fool, have to find a perfect date to stop pumping. 😅

But tonight, 2 minutes into pumping, I saw blood.

This is the first time I'm bleeding from the peeling. 😯
I went, eeks blood!
And my husband said, I think you should just stop.

Sigh.

The first time I pumped, I bled too because my nipples were bruised and torn from incorrect latching while we were at the hospital.

Same start and end wtf.

So I guess I'm done.
Rather unceremoniously, but I guess that's life's way of telling me that sentimentality is unnecessary.

My only hope is that my supply disappears equally unceremoniously.
No mastitis no issues please. 🙇

I'd have loved to take a picture of my last pump but my letdown was so slow that the blood came before the milk did. 😅

I've been thinking about what I'd say on that designated "last" day of pumping.
Now that it might have to end earlier (I say "might" because fingers crossed, no complications please), I'm at a loss for words.

So let me try to put my impromptu thoughts together.

When I was pregnant, I had a grand dream of breastfeeding for a year.
Afterall everyone seems to be doing it.

It shouldn't be THAT difficult right?

The truth is, it is one of the most difficult things I've ever done, after pregnancy and labour.

I've been blessed with a good supply, and Clarissa has been on total breast milk up for a full five months.
Supply went downhill after that 6th mastitis attack, a day before I was due to return to work.

I guess the blessing in disguise from that 6th attack was that I was able to move to a 3 pumps per day schedule fairly quickly, since supply became lower.

For the record, my target became 6 months a month after Clarissa was born. Just do what the WHO recommends? 😅

So the other thing that happened after the last mastitis attack was that I made peace with myself.

For a while I was afraid to make the decision and I was hoping the husband would.
Sometimes I would wonder, why didn't he ask me to stop after he saw the pain I went through?
I was looking for a hero to whisk me away from this villain, to save me from the mental and physical torture.

Very "drama", I know.
And torture is a very strong word to use, but I can't find a better description of how I was feeling.

But no, the husband didn't ask me to stop. Nor did he ask me to continue.

Because while Clarissa is our child, breastfeeding can only be my decision.

He could have set grand targets of me breastfeeding her until she's three..but I might not have the supply for it.

So how?
He asked me, when I asked him why he couldn't take a clearer stand.

Ok, that made sense.

So after the last attack, I was finally at peace with that 6-month goal, that it is good enough, that even if I did not meet the target, I've done my best.

Breastfeeding, or pumping, is a very personal journey.
You can't do it without the support if your spouse, but only you know both the joy and pain in their totality.

I can show my husband all that gory raw skin and he'd see that it's painful.

But like labour pain and contractions, men know it's painful only because we tell them so, not because they really know how exactly it feels.

How your toes curl up when your baby bites into your already sore nipples. How your tears well up uncontrollably when the lactation consultant presses through that blocked duct and squeezes green milk out of your nipple. How you tremble uncontrollably and then fall asleep uncomfortably after the onset of mastitis.

No one would really know, but you.

I know I've done my best.


Now that I've almost finished my train of thought, I find my sentimentality silly.
What was I expecting, a medal? 😅

Maybe not.
But a pat on my back would be nice. :)

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