Working for a health care organization, it seemed all anyone wanted to tell me were the advantages to “nature’s perfect formula.” Don’t get me wrong, I completely agreed and wanted to make every effort to keep our little guy EBF (exclusively breast fed) for the first six months but I simply had no idea what life would really look like when our hungry hippo was born. One thing’s for sure it most certainly doesn’t look like the beautiful stock art images of baby and mom quickly cuddled in the rocking chair. Most of the time it looks like there’s an octopus trying to escape from beneath the nursing cover. Breastfeeding was such a challenge for us, that I was actually looking forward to going back to work and pumping multiple times a day. Still I couldn’t have even started to imagine the shenanigans that would arise while I tried to bringing home the bacon and the milk.
My job entails driving to locations all over two counties and many times, I don’t know where I’ll have to be before the day is done. Add on to that a regular hour-plus commute and the early days of pumping were a nightmare. Within the first month I had pumped in exam rooms, private offices, in the parking lot at a local park, and while sitting in LA traffic. (Thank god for nursing covers and tinted windows.)
On my first day back, a coworker I don’t really know all that well asked me if I was expressing. The horror on my face was clearly evident as he quickly backpedaled saying how hard it was for his wife. I still can’t look him in the eye. The poor man sent be a baby gift because I think he was worried I was going to file sexual harassment charges.
There are 5 women who work on my floor who are nursing mothers and another 4 who are currently pregnant and due within the next 3 months. It’s practically impossible to find a moment in the sole lactation room at our company. And when I am there — I’m usually pumping, eating and answering emails.
Three months in, I’ve carried bags of breastmilk in my purse to a meeting because I didn’t want to leave it in the hot car. I’ve stood inside bathrooms at wineries, hotels and backstage at a convention center. A coworker offered to sit with me while I pumped so we had time for a meeting that was hard to schedule (I took a pass on that offer). I cried when I left a days work of milk on the counter overnight. As my pregnant friends and coworkers are about to embark on their own parenthood journeys, I’ve been passing out Mother’s Milk Tea and lactation cookie recipes like some sort of creepy evangelist.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, being a working parent takes some humility and negotiation. I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to run into the office with my pumping bag in tow, but for now, I’ll take that horrid little whir of the machine because it is good for Luke, and it’s the only reason I’m able to fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes at this stage of the game.