Breastfeeding was way complicated at first, and painful – oh the painful. Now it is almost entirely pain free and very simple (so take note moms-to-be! After the two week hump it gets much much much better). All good things. But breast feeding and going back to work adds another puzzle piece to an already hectic schedule, plus the added stress of having to come up with the next day’s food supply while juggling my lunch break, meetings, being productive and making sure I’m still kicking ass.
I pump 3 times a day. In my office those times have to be scheduled and are not really that flexible. I pump in a conference room where sometimes I have to close the blinds – which makes me feel like it is obvious I’m about to get nekkey, and where I always lock the door behind me and say a little prayer that no one tries to bust in. So far, the bust in attempt has only happened once.
It takes me 15-25 minutes for me to set up, pop out the girls, and pump. Then I take the milk over to the office kitchen and transfer it into storage bags that live in a little zippered bag in the fridge. That is the weirdest part – pouring from bottle to bag while people are getting snacks or tea or filling their water bottles. All like, “Hi, these are my bodily fluids, they came from my boobs. Carry on.” It feels like it is private, even if it maybe shouldn’t feel that way. I make jokes to make people feel less uncomfortable with it. I reference being a dairy cow – not far off from the truth. But mostly I wish it didn’t feel so vulgar. It shouldn’t. It’s not like pouring pee into a sample jar or anything, so why does it make me flinch like it is? Sigh…
In general, pumping is awkward. I take my bag into a conference room every day at 9:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 3:00 pm. I sometimes need to walk in late to meetings, and most days I am racing to cram food into my mouth so that I don’t miss that 1230 time. It is difficult to keep the same efficiency as my counterparts because I’m taking extra breaks, so when I’m at my desk I need to be extra focused. Pumping at work means I am running and scrambling from the second I leave the house and it does make my weeks extra mentally taxing. By Friday I am wiped out.
And then! A week like last week happens – I had a content editing summit at work and my entire schedule was turned upside down. I was off site in meetings more than half the day and I skipped pumping sessions. At least 1 a day, at least 3 days a week. And what happened? By the weekend I had stopped producing the majority of my milk. Talk about STRESSED OUT. I almost accidentally weaned him, and I am still trying to rectify the situation. I went from overflowing with milk to running on empty most of the time. I now know that I cannot, under any circumstances, fuck around with pumping while at work. Even if it is inconvenient, even if it can be awkward.
So now I am drinking a shit ton of milk-stimulating tea, I am pumping like a crazy person, and I am making sure to feed Gabe as close to every two hours as possible when I am home. This aspect of being a working mom is the only part where I feel incredibly torn and spread too thin. I want to be good at my job – I want to be the BEST at my job, but I also want to feed Gabe. Everything else – feeling put together, juggling schedules, working out, gearing up for daycare, handling my postpartum body has been so much easier than I thought. Breastfeeding and all that it entails as been a journey, a learning process, and harder (and more important to me) than I anticipated.