Well, it’s more like 7:30-4 and not all of me looks like Dolly Parton, but I am a working mom of an infant. My second baby, Declan, is nine months old and I am still nursing him. So ladies we all know what that means: pumping at work. I previously nursed my daughter, Salem, until she was nine months, and pumped at work for seven of them after returning from an all too short maternity leave. So far, I have learned it is definitely a “do whatever works best for you” and “learn as you go” type of thing. Once I was about two weeks in, I formed a pretty good routine. Since this is my second child, you would think I’d be an expert on this by now and have it all together. It’s a nice thought. Instead, here are some thoughts, or confessions, I have about the subject.
1. It’s hard work. I am so thankful my company has a designated room for me to pump. But because there are a TON of people that work in my building, I have to schedule three time slots a day to use the room. I have about 20 minutes each time to unload all my parts, put everything together, pump, transfer the milk to bags, label bags and pack everything back up. This hardly mimics the unstructured nursing session, with baby looking into my eyes and taking as much time as he pleases. So, I try to make the best of it by not thinking about how much exactly is in the bottles and looking through his pictures and videos…with my one hand I have available. The first time around, I was so excited about the idea of a hands-free pumping bra. I used it for about two days. The added stress and time it took to get it on and off was just too much. Did I mention I only have 20 minutes? So I very strategically hold my arm horizontally, with the back of the parts resting on my forearm and hand. Do you have a visual? The downside is I have a semicircle indentation on my arm all day. I’ve considered getting it tattooed there.
2. It’s inconvenient. I lug my electric pump in that bulky black bag (why don’t they come in cute patterns by now?) to and from work everyday, hoping the security at the front desk doesn’t find me sketchy and mistake it for a bomb. One of the older men in my department asks me if I’m leaving every time I walk out with it, to which I just reply “nope.” Pumping three times a day sounds easy enough. Then add in lunch, meetings, unexpected phone calls, etc. And since they’re scheduled pumping sessions, I don’t have much wiggle room with time. I am constantly thinking about pumping and how anything in my day can affect it. “We have a meeting at what time? Ok, I will just have to step out early.” “I can go to lunch, but can we do 11:30 instead of 11?” I am looking at my watch all day to make sure I don’t miss my time. I often have to stop in the middle of things. A few times I’ve spilled a couple of drops of milk on my pants. I panicked during a fire drill recently and grabbed my pump bag…just in case. Twice while leaving for the day I forgot it at my desk and had to go back; luckily I only got as far as the parking garage both times. I’ve had to run to the store to buy storage bags when I forgot to pack more. If only the milk could just be magically pumped out with absolutely no effort on my part.
3. It’s totally worth it. I’m so glad I can do this for my baby. Even though I am working and away from him for most of the day, I am still able to provide him with nourishment, aka liquid gold. I feel like it allows me to maintain that special bond with him. To me it is worth it – difficulties and all. And I’ll continue as long as I can, or up to around a year at least.
Maybe I’m just clumsy or spastic, but pumping at work is not easy. I always joke that it seems like all I do at work is pump, eat, and use the restroom (not all at the same time of course). But I guess it really isn’t as bad as it sounds.