It’s been well over 24 hours since I last pumped milk.
I didn’t even realise. Not at first. And then it hit me last night when I considered how I seemed to have free time all of a sudden. And then I felt reality slap me hard in the face. It stung. My eyes pricked.
And I realised I probably didn’t even appreciate the ‘last time’.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t like the last feed. The one where you quietly feed your baby, and wonder if this is the last time you might share a moment like that. It sort of signifies them growing up.
The relationship between a mother and a pump is not quite so romantic. I can see the industrial pump out of the corner of my eye. I actually have two. I have two of these things. Because I was so afraid that, should one break, I would have to give up. And not on my terms.
I do remember that the last time I physically made milk, was two nights ago. And I expressed 4oz. And I remember thinking – gosh, it’s funny. I used to make at least 9oz. But I didn’t know that it would be the very last.
It’s not as though I would have made a ceremony out of it. Or lit a candle. But I would have wanted to say goodbye.
Say goodbye to this chapter of my life.
The one that caused me a lot of pain. Physically, with raw nipples and blisters at first. Engorgement. And mentally. Where I felt stressed by hitting my target of milk that I felt I needed to get. Crying when a pump valve split. Trying to pick up my baby who was crying, while still attached. Feeling useless and desperate. But stuck. Having a let-down. I wasn’t going anywhere. Guilty because I can’t play with Bill. I can’t get him a drink. I can’t do anything.
But it also gave me purpose. In those dark days of hospital. Leaving my baby and gulping back tears that I felt like I was drowning in. Howling on my bed some nights. Clutching at a pillow. When nothing would fill the empty feeling in my arms.
But I could still do that. I could make her milk and no one else could do that. The nurses could feed her, they could change her nappy, they could cradle her to sleep at night. But I had one thing I could do. And it kept me going.
I used to love bringing in my stash from the evening. Sometimes six bottles. 30oz. I felt like a milkman. And I felt so proud writing labels. Which I would always doodle a little daisy on. Tradition that hasn’t stopped.
Until, at least, I stopped.
I do feel fullness now. I don’t feel 100% back to normal. But I know I don’t need to express. Not for relief. I know I’m done. My pump parts are sat, sad and faded, on top of our microwave. I don’t need to sterilise them. I don’t need to look at them. Touch them.
But I can’t seem to pack them away. Pack them away in the ‘Maybe Box’.
The possibly, maybe, one day box. For a third. Or maybe not.
I don’t know.
That’s what is hard. Daisy could be the last. But she could be our middle baby. The one that joined us all together. The one that taught us so much. But we need time to heal. Time to think of practicalities. Of “can we do this again”? But mainly we need time to live.
We need time to enjoy our daughter. And her big brother.
But I’m still here wondering if these are the last firsts?
When an era ends, will I experience it again?
Either way. These are Daisy’s firsts. They are special. Treasured. Unforgettable.
I just hope that, now I’m in a better place. No longer hooked up to a pump in the middle of the night. Falling asleep and waking as the bottle overspills onto my lap and I swear and berate myself. I hope that I have more time to enjoy every second.
My milk is dried up.
But I chose for it to happen.
This was for me. But inadvertently for them.
Now I would like the tears to dry up.
So I can move on.
I don’t want to be the poor mother who had a baby in special care anymore.
I want to be Bill and Daisy’s mum.
I want to be Charlotte.
I’m ready to move on.
Out of the rain.
And into the sun.