I’ve had an insane week at work that required me to work 42 hours in 3 days during a business trip. The last two days back home have been a saner 7 and 1/2 hours, but the schedule has definitely taken a toll on me and my kids.
I was fortunate to be able to fly my mom up to Vermont to be my nanny for my four-month old. And while work required me to work 12-16 hour days, I managed to sneak out of meetings to nurse Addy. Everyone I was working with understood that I couldn’t leave my 4 month old entirely for 3 days and didn’t seem to mind me stepping out. I, however, felt like I had to keep apologizing and explaining why I couldn’t leave the baby at home. It killed me that someone might think I was unprofessional. My cheeks burned red at the thought that someone might say, “I can’t believe she brought her baby.”
My blush deepened one afternoon in the middle of my business trip while pumping in a colleague’s office. I didn’t feel like I could just take a break from the frantic schedule entirely, so I set my laptop up to watch a video that needed to be reviewed. The only problem was that the sound was terrible on the video and the only way I could understand what was being said over the sound of my pump was by resting my ear directly on the computer speaker. And there I sat, hunched over my pump, half-naked, lying on my laptop when someone knocked on the door. Thankfully, my friend didn’t try her lock because I’m not sure she could have recovered from such an image burned on her retina.
I was actually holding things together pretty damn well thanks to my amazing mother who not only took care of my baby for me but cleaned my whole house one day while I was away. (I really want a wife, someone who can take care of the kids, run the errands, and have dinner on the table when I come home from earning the bacon. Or textured soy protein, in my case) And I was feeling pretty darn good about things because my kids were enjoying their time with their grandmother and great grandmother (Yep, she’s here too!), and I was getting a ton of work done.
Until yesterday morning. Addy woke up at about 5:30, and I nursed her in bed. I then ran through my normal morning routine minus Penny because my mom had her. Addy hung out on the bed unamused by my face making and tooth brushing. I hustled her downstairs to my mom, so I could pump before heading out the door. I tried to relax but Addy continued to fuss downstairs, and it occurred to me that she might be hungry again. So I tried to nurse her (despite having just pumped 4 or 5 ounces) to no avail. She continued to fuss and uninterested in nursing. Finally, I handed her back to my mom and scrambled to get Penny and me out the door. Then it happened.
My mom took Addy in her arms and popped the bottle of milk that I just pumped into her mouth. I froze, keys in hand. “Is she taking it?”
“Yes,” my mom replied.
“Don’t do that in front of me. Just don’t- it makes me mad,” I said closing the door to leave the house. I paused and opened the door again to apologize to my mom. “I don’t mean to yell out you, Mom. It’s just not cool, Addy. Not cool.”
And then I spent the rest of the day mad at my 4 month old. Mature, right? It killed me though that I had spent the week staying up late at night to pump, getting up early in the morning to pump, pumping in small, dark offices, and contorting into awkward positions in uncomfortable chairs in my dress clothes all to make sure my baby got breast milk. And here she was, cool as a cucumber, taking the bottle from my mother. Preferring the bottle to the breast I had offered her minutes before. Rotten, ungrateful, wretched baby!
The irony of running late to work because I had to stop to pump milk when my baby was actually still hungry was not lost on me. My annoyance with Addy soon turned to guilt and depression at leaving my young child to go to work. I remembered the burst of pride I’d felt at my co-worker’s remark on how fast I’d nursed the baby when I returned to a meeting Monday night. Had I’d been shorting Addy all week though? Had I broken the bond we’d established through breastfeeding? Should I throw in the towel and just hand over the formula now? Why was I killing myself trying to pump at work when it would be sooo much easier to just mix up a bottle of powder for her anytime she needed it? Why does it have to be so damned hard to work and nurse?
I’ve declared a moratorium on the bottle for at least the next 4 days when I’m at home and am hoping to restore our equilibrium soon. Addy will just have to get over the easy rush of the bottle nipple and suffer her mother’s au natural flow. In the meanwhile I’ll continue to comfort myself by eating homemade chocolate chip cookies (did I mention how cool it is to have my mom here?) and know that I’ll burn the calories feeding Addy later (can’t forget that added benefit of breastfeeding).
But next week I’ll be back at work again and in the bathroom pumping again because I know it’s worth it despite all the inconveniences. And someday Addy just might know it too.
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