It’s “Bessie’s” turn
I’m passing the reins to “Bessie.” As of today, my daughter is fully on cow’s milk, and I have mixed feelings about it.
I am not one of those moms for whom breastfeeding was easy. (I wonder if those moms exist in the real world, in fact!) Mostly, though, it was my daughter who struggled. She just couldn’t figure out what to do with her tongue. That was true when taking milk from a bottle as well. So, by the end of the first week I had become an exclusive pumper. Meaning I’d sit tied to a breast pump eight to 10 times a day in effort to make enough milk to give my daughter. It wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t my choice. But, in the end it worked. I had my doubts in the early days. I moaned and groaned. I cried and ranted. My daughter just looked at me with her big blue eyes, and I kept at it. By the time she was 3 months old, I was able to stop supplementing with formula and even started to build a bit of a frozen milk stash.
By the time she was 10 months, I had enough frozen that I could stop pumping all together and give her frozen milk. And that’s what I’ve been doing. My goal was to see her through her first birthday. I did that and then a couple of extra weeks as well. But knowing that she is no longer getting anything from me is bittersweet.
I worked so stinking hard for that milk that I was proud every time I gave her a bottle (or more recently a sippy cup) filled with it. I saw her go from 7 pounds, 8 ounces at birth to 20 pounds, 6 ounces at her one-year checkup and knew that I had a major hand in that growth.
Now that Bessie is taking over and providing her with cow’s milk, I can’t take as much credit. So silly. It’s not about credit. It’s about having a healthy baby. And I say that meaning a healthy baby whether the baby has breast milk, formula or any combination of the two before starting cow’s milk. Healthy babies are what matters.
However, now that Bessie is taking over, I also realize that I will no longer have to reorganize my freezer (including the chest freezer we bought primarily for milk) to get to the bag I needed. I will no longer have to get milk out two day’s ahead of time in order for it to thaw enough by the time we need it. I will no longer have two plastic containers holding milk bags taking up half a shelf in my refrigerator. I will no longer have to stress when traveling to make sure my frozen milk stays frozen.
When I stopped pumping, I found some freedom. Now that we are saying good-bye to frozen milk, we are moving on and finding some more freedom. And the good news is that my daughter really loves cow’s milk. I think she liked her mama’s milk, too. It did what it needed to do and more than I expected. And so today, as I enjoy my newest freedom and can just pour a cup of milk for her without having to thaw it, I will also feel a bit sad as we pass into yet another stage of childhood.