Friday, January 15, 2010

Houston*... is that a breast pump in the background?

I went back to work the week before Thanksgiving. I wanted to sit down and write out my thoughts about it at the time. But well - the issue with being a working Mom is that you don't have time for anything else - ever. I suppose that's the issue with just having kids regardless of your gender or employment status - but for my particular situation I'm sort of "ok" until you start trying to make me work for a living too.

It's been a lot harder getting into the swing of things this time around. The first issue is that with the addition of Quinn to the family the balance has shifted so that work is definitely easier than being home solo. So where's the problem then, you ask? Shouldn't working a few days make life easier? Well yes, but the issue is that when I GET to work I just want to put my feet up at my desk and - as Depeche Mode would say - enjoy the silence. You see my entire team works in Houston. I am in Cambridge. I could go hours and talk to no one - and it's heavenly. Yes I occasionally have to deal with the painfully socially awkward engineer in the hallway - but that is SO much easier than simultaneously wrangling a 3 year old who is "testing" and a baby who's teething and not really into the whole napping thing.

I was worried that it would be really hard to leave Quinn at daycare - but honestly that's been a pretty easy transition. He goes to a family daycare - (not the same as Lily's, she was full) - that we found thanks to friends of ours. Kathy only watches four kids at a time and is just awesome. Quinn seems to love it there. He's the youngest by about a year and the three older kids adore him. He gets tons of hugs and kisses from all of them and has lots of entertainment throughout his day.

The thing that HAS made this transition a lot harder has been pumping at work. Quinn is still nursing and honestly I've really enjoyed the experience and am not quite ready to end that part of our relationship just yet. So I'm pumping - to try to keep things going. And let me tell you - it's hard! I have no idea how women return to work full time when their baby is three months old and pump for the next nine months. These people are like rock stars to me. I am immensely impressed by them.

I, on the other hand, am a wuss, apparently - an easily-distracted one at that. So if you take my work day and throw in three pumping sessions it becomes really hard for me to stay focused. It should also be noted that I have a perfect "pump at work" situation. I have my own office, with a locked door and blinds on the windows. I work with folks that are in Houston so conduct most of my "face-to-face" business on the phone. Therefore I can pump through almost anything. I've got my little hands-free kit and a Medela Freestyle. There should be nothing stopping me really.

But instead I'm finding it really really challenging. Part of the issue is that while my supply has always been just fine for Quinn I'm not getting a TON when I pump - and it's frustrating. My little eating machine takes 4 oz of fruit, 4 oz of vegetable, cereal and 18 oz of milk to Kathy's on my work day. That's a lot of food - and a lot of milk to produce! At first I could use the tiny stash I had managed to build up to supplement, but now that's gone. At most I can produce 9 oz during the 3 sessions at work - only 1/2 of what Q needs. I could *almost* make it work by pumping in the evening every night (even on my non-work days). But I took a hiatus from that over the holidays and now my night session is really really sad. I'm planning to ditch it soon to just make life a little easier.

Now my goal is just to pump during the day when at work so I keep my supply up for the nursing sessions at home. Kathy's been supplementing with formula when he's there and that's been working fine. I'm lucky in that Quinn will eat pretty much anything from any source. He's fine with bottles and fine with formula too. And since Lily drank nothing but formula, I'm fine with it as well.

I do admit that occasionally the stubborn, type-A, perfectionist in me isn't fine with it. Its really not that I care that Quinn is eating formula. It's more that I have a really hard time letting go. I SAY that I'm giving up the nighttime pumping session, but I haven't yet. I keep doing it anyway - I'll probably get started as soon as I finish this post. I don't like "giving up" the evening session because it feels like I'm giving up - though what I'm giving up ON, I'm not sure. So really, it's not about Quinn - it's all about me.

Wow - I do ramble when I get going with the more self-involved posts! So to wrap this
up here are a couple of fun anecdotes about pumping at work when you're one of three woman on staff in your building (and the only one with kids). As I said, the office-pumping situation is pretty great, but I still have to travel down the hallway from my office with bottles of breast milk in my hand and rinse of pump parts in the kitchen. During these trips of mine I have had the following conversations:

[SAME = socially-awkward male engineer]

SAME#1: "So, hows *production*?" (accompanied by what I can only describe as a "boob gesture" - he sort of bounces his imaginary boobs while looking towards my not-so-imaginary ones)
Me [taken a bit off guard and not very suave about it]: oh you know, hanging in there
(holy god NOT the best choice of words!)
SAME#1: [laugh's knowingly] yeah, yeah how's your *supply*?

SAME#2: "Wow you've lost a TON of weight!"
Me: [not certain that he knows I was actually PREGNANT before and not just eating too much ice cram] oh thanks, having a baby can do that
SAME#2: [mumbles something incoherently and may or may not have said something about a cow]
Me [feeling awkward, also holding two bottle of freshly pumped milk]: "well I'm nursing too so that's helping with the weight loss a lot this time around"
SAME#2: "oh yes, your baby has his own personal cow!"

Thankfully I mostly love my office - and the guys there, they do mean well. They just don't always know what is appropriate. I mean I have no issue talking about nursing in general... it's just well... I could do without the cow references and too-direct questions!

And for now - still nursing, still pumping. We'll see how long we can keep it up. Quinn's first teeth are JUST about to break though - so that could change the landscape a little as well too!

*OK so not really. I mean, yeah I do spend time in mission control during shuttle missions, but I won't be taking my pump along with me. Also - I don't get to talk directly to the astronauts - just to the GNC lead. But I couldn't resist. I want Tom Hanks to deliver that line in a movie.


EGR said...

You are brave for talking about this at work. My co-workers just thought that I had taken up smoking.

The first week I kept the goods in the common fridge. I then decided I'd much rather bring my own ice pack. BTW, Reagan airport has an ingenious nursing-only stall in their restrooms complete with sink, plug and a table. Much different than Atlanta where--let's say--I let in all hang out to the horror of others.

Stick it out... it's worth it.

BookBabe said...

You could *mumble* something about male enhancements, or viagra.. then just look embarrassed and walk away. I bet he will stop mentioning it.. lol..

Northwest Mom said...

I did a bunch of pumping when kate was a baby.. have you tried the old tricks:
a) have a photo of Q on your desk and focus on his little face, how cute he is, his smell, etc. when you are pumping
b) do some deep breathing, relaxing techniques before you even start to try and pump..
don't think about volume, just think about feeding your little guy..

and, I'll add this. in some ways I think it's a tradeoff. I could pump out a significant amount of milk in a short time. But getting half that amount into the kid took an hour of nursing. You're really lucky the nursing part works great-that wasn't the case at all for me, hence why I quit at 3 months.

No matter what, don't beat yourself up over it!

Amy said...

I used to love pumping in my office...after I got used to it, I would just forget I was doing it as I was typing along on something, and without realizing it would be pumping for like 40 minutes! I hope it becomes second nature enough for it to go that smoothly for you. If you ever want to know, I have great tips on pumping while driving!!! (seriously).