I've been pumping and donating since Ivy was 2 weeks old. Every night, I hook myself up to the pump, settle back into the couch, and pump a cup of liquid gold for my donor family. Sometimes I would be so tired when it came time to pump. I just want to go to bed...maybe I'll do it in the morning...but still every night I would sit down, plug in, and pump.
I love nursing my children, and I would be devastated if I were unable to breastfeed. That's why I pump, even when I don't feel like it.
I've wondered how long I could continue pumping after I was done nursing my last baby...months? years? decades? Some wet nurses continued to nurse babies into their 70s and 80s, so I suppose there is no absolute upper limit on lacatation.
With our upcoming move to France, however, I knew my pumping days would likely end. I don't have a 240V pump and our new apartment doesn't have a proper freezer. Two strikes, you're out. When I realized this, I was excited at the thought of freedom from pumping. When I'm tired, I can just go to bed!
My visit to Seattle two weeks ago might have answered my dilemma about when to stop pumping. I didn't bring a pump. I figured Ivy would take care of the extra milk if I gave her more opportunities to nurse. I did get a little engorged, but not uncomfortably so. I tried my sister's single manual pump (Isis Avent) and that thing is worthless! I easily express 8+ ounces with my double electric pump, but only got a half an ounce with the manual pump.
When I came home from Seattle, I didn't pump the first night...or the next...or the next.
I think I am done.
I've been working on saying no to more things. Even though I could do them, I choose not to. I'm a little wistful because this might be my last opportunity to donate. But I'm also ready to move on and enjoy a few more minutes of sleep every night, a few more minutes not tied down to a machine, a few more minutes when my body is mine and no one else's.