Pumping at Work: Part I
During my maternity leave, I had become quite friendly with my fancy, three hundred dollar pump. We got together daily and worked to build a freezer stash of milk for baby. We were a good team, and I went back to work, hoping we would continue to build our partnership for Micah’s sake. I had carefully selected a pump that I felt was up for the challenge of being worked three to five times a day. I spoke to other moms, read reviews, and asked the sales person at the baby store. I felt I had made a well-informed decision, and I returned to work with high expectations for my newfound partner. Over time, my pump and I developed a rocky relationship. Like all troubled partnerships, we had really great days, but the bad ones began to outnumber the good. Toward the end of our time together, we were no longer on speaking terms, and we had to part ways for good.
Let’s back up a little bit. The week before I returned to work, I had inquired with the Human Resources department about a private place to express milk. It had been established that I would use the owner’s suite. I work for a small, family-owned company, and the owners had built an apartment-style suite on the top floor of the building. I had heard about “the penthouse” but had never seen it before. My first day back, I was escorted up by the HR rep and was pleased with the surroundings. There was a mini-fridge for milk storage, comfortable furniture, and a sink that could be used to wash the pump pieces after each use. Best of all, it was completely private. I couldn’t hear anything that was happening on the three floors beneath me, and no one could hear me taking care of my mommy business. This only worked against me only one time when there was an approaching line of tornadoes in the area, and everyone was sent home to weather out the storms. I came downstairs to find a completely empty office building. How’s that for a soundproof penthouse? Good times! But I digress…
I couldn’t have been happier with the arrangement. I had heard the plight of many nursing moms who made great sacrifices for their babies. One friend had to hover in the corner of her open cubicle with a nursing cover while she blasted a fan and put on the radio to try to disguise the whirring sound of the pump. Another mom I know had to lug the pump into a cleaning supply closet in a building adjacent to hers up to four times a day for privacy. Breastfeeding a baby is such a huge commitment, and I was determined to stick to it. I can’t guarantee I would have gone to such extreme measures to do so. I’m glad I wasn’t faced with such adversity.
I spoke with my supervisor on my first day back and assured her I would work harder than ever to get the job done, despite having to take frequent breaks. She said she felt confident in my abilities and would let me know if she had any concerns. I don’t think I realized how much my day would be impacted by my pumping schedule. I was working on a project with a tight deadline. I had to work harder and faster than ever before. As soon as I would find myself getting in the groove, it was time to go upstairs. Before baby, I would have worked after hours, but in order to pick up Micah, I had to leave at closing time. It didn’t take very long for the barrage of guilt to set in. The more guilt I felt, the less milk I was able to produce. Before I was ready to admit it the beginning of the end (of my nursing days) had arrived….stay tuned for part two of “Pumping at Work.”