I’ve been a breastfeeding mom. I’ve been a formula feeding mom. I’ve been a pumping mom. I’ve done all three at the same time thanks to Gray Baby being a petite-sized diva. We are currently formula feeding with quick nursing sessions at night or when she’s being extra greedy. Breastfeeding was a major struggle for us both until after the three-month mark. I returned to work full-time after three months of maternity leave and faced a new battle: pumping.
Here are a few things I learned along the way before hanging up my pumping parts at seven months:
Milk can make for awkward conversations.
I am thankful to work in a very open and family-friendly workplace. When I told my supervisors I was pregnant, one of them mentioned that I should go ahead and put in a work order to get blinds put in my office for when I pump. He, yes he, had three kids of his own and instantly thought of that. Despite everyone’s support, walking around with bottles of breast milk can still be awkward. I used our back kitchen the first few weeks so no one had to stare at the milky containers. I would avoid conversations until I had put them in the fridge. Time passed and so did inhibitions. There came a point in the middle of my pumping journey where I realized I was talking to the Mayor while funneling breast milk into a container. Neither of us batted an eye.
Sticking to a schedule is the key to success.
I nursed Gray Baby as soon as we both woke up. I then tried to pump at 9am, 11am, nurse her at 1pm, and then pump again at 3pm. I was upfront and adamant about keeping that schedule. Unless the meeting was absolutely necessary, I would decline calendar invites or staff lunches to keep to my pumping schedule. My boobs were instant alarm clocks that suddenly started to ache if I was a few minutes late to pump.
Enjoy those precious minutes of silence. Or social media.
I spent about 30 minutes in my office with the door closed for my pumping sessions. This included set-up, changing into my pumping bra, pumping for 20 minutes, and breakdown. At the beginning, I spent most of my pumping sessions looking at photos of Gray Baby or watching videos of her giggling. I missed her so much. I then started using the time to catch up on emails or tasks on my computer. Sometimes I would relax and close my eyes to rest thanks to growing spurts that caused broken sleep and all-night nursing sessions. However, sometimes I would grab my phone and check social media. I could catch up on everyone’s lives that I no longer had time to hear about over drinks. I found out who was pregnant, who had a new significant other, and who was complaining about how tired they were despite being 21 years old with no kid (I kinda hate you). Most importantly, I would post photos of Gray Baby for the world to see and fawn over how cute she was.
Random pumping mamas will become your friend.
One day I was walking to my car to go nurse Gray Baby and a random female employee from City Hall stopped me while I was carrying my bottles of pumped milk from my morning sessions. She congratulated me on the amount of milk I had. In case you didn’t know, that’s the best compliment in the world. Even better than the “you can’t even tell you had a baby” compliment. We chatted about where we pumped, how often we pumped, and how much our babies drank. We swapped tips to increase milk supply and encouraged each other. I don’t even know her name, but I do know that Fruit Punch Gatorade helps her supply.
Getting your life back is incredible.
There came a day that I was so busy running around at work that I forgot to pump for an entire afternoon. My boobs never alerted me that it was time to pump. I decided then and there that I would try not pumping and see what happened. I continued to nurse Gray Baby when we were together and upped her formula amounts she was getting. The next week at work I found that I had so much free time that didn’t involve hooking up a machine to my boobs like I was a milk cow. I could wear outfits that hadn’t seen the light of day since before my pregnancy. I could say yes to staff lunch rather than turning coworkers down so that I could sit in my office alone. I was able to open my blinds and see actual sunlight from across the hall. It was a great feeling.