I was able to nurse Little Foot all the way up till his first birthday and that day I consciously made the decision to cut him off the boob.
Extended nursing is not for me, but respect to all you mamas out there still going strong!
However, It was NOT without effort that I was able to keep it up the full year after going back to work. It was essentially a second job on top of mommin’ and actually working full-time. I think back to those first few months back to work, and realize how utterly exhausted I was.
Mombie is the term, and it was 100% accurate.
There was a three week period when I would just come home and cry because of the amount of pressure of I was feeling. All self-inflicted.
First, let’s start with all the shit you have to bring along with you.
- Pumping parts (flanges, bottle connectors, tubes, little flappy things)
- Storage bags
- A bag to keep all the shit in
And you have to remember all of this shit or you’re screwed. Dont forget: you’re sleep deprived, adjusting to working full-time, have to remember your work bag and lunch, AND have to pack the diaper bag and manage daycare drop-off.
There were several times I would forget something at home and didn’t realize it till it was time to pump, so would have to take a long lunch and go home. Not convenient when you live 40mins away from your workplace.
I could’ve just toughed-it-out I guess, and dealt with two leaking hot boulders on my chest for the day…umm, no thanks.
I did start to get a little smart and leave some things at work. I ended up leaving my pump, spare bottles, and storage bags in a drawer.
I started out pumping twice a day – all the resources and articles I read told me this would be sufficient. Well, it wasn’t. He was eating a lot more than I could pump at work, and we were having to dig into my freezer stash that I worked so hard to build up during maternity leave. It really stressed me out. THAT WAS ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES!
So then I started pumping THREE TIMES A DAY at work. Which was not convenient at my workplace. I had to get a special key to a room on the 11th floor of a building (I work on the first floor) and pack everything with me. I had to block-off three 15 min times on my calendar which really took about 20 mins after set-up/clean-up and elevator travel.
I kept this up for about a month before I threw in the towel. I said, “Fuck it. My sanity is not worth this.”
So, we started supplementing with formula. – Hands-down a live-saving decision.
I was able to pump two times a day like a normal person, and not have to worry about Little Foot not having enough to eat during the day, because if he needed more, the formula was there to fill in the gaps.
I no longer had to keep track of ounces and feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety if I only pumped 15oz and he had been drinking 20oz.
*I have to caveat – for all of you unsuspecting mamas-to-be – I feel like a lot of my anxiety was increased when looking to the LLL for advice. I would have ran myself into the ground if I would have kept at all the “tricks” they provided to increase my supply. (Mother’s Milk Tea, Fenugreek supplement, pumping more often, pumping at night, oatmeal for breakfast) On and on and on….
Gradually, as he started eating more solids and taking less of a bottle I cut back to once a day and then finally around 9 months I stopped pumping at work altogether. At this point he would only nurse at night before bedtime and when he woke up first thing in the morning.
Looking back now, I realize how much of a crazy person I was! But I was determined, and what was SO EASY for me during maternity leave proved to be a giant challenge once returning to work.
I have had several people ask me for breastfeeding advice after returning to work, and my advice is this: Don’t kill yourself. Do what works for you, your baby, and your family. There’s no need to become a manic stressed induced Mombie, because fed baby = happy baby, and happy baby = happy family.