life as a breastfeeding, pumping, working mama {one month in}.

Q-19-Weeks

this week marks week no. 4 of my return to work after welcoming sweet Q into our lives in November, so i wanted to share a bit of a status report.

specifically, i want to spend time updating you all on a few things, including:

  • how i’m emotionally coping with my return to work;
  • how Q {and L, too!} have weathered full-time daycare;
  • and how pumping breastmilk + breastfeeding is working out for Q and i.

this is a doozy of a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat!

emotionally, my return has been relatively wrinkle-free. my supervisor has been a complete dream, in that he’s provided a space in which i’m able to pump breastmilk multiple times each day {more on this in a bit}. my colleagues have been wonderfully supportive of my need to slip in and out of the “lactation lounge,” which is located in a separate room in the midst of a communal space of cubicles, at various times throughout the day to pump. lastly, my students have been, by and large, welcoming and accommodating as i learn their names {a task which feels so peculiar, given that we are already past the halfway point of our semester} and as i get my “sea legs” back as an instructor of English and communications.

personally, i worked hard to prepare myself for the emotional gamut of feelings as related to experiencing time away from Q. in the weeks prior to my return, i soaked up moment after moment with Q; we snuggled, we napped, we nursed, and i gave thanks to God each and every day for the time {nearly 16 weeks!} that i was able to spend at home with him. i also became obsessed with making morning and evening to-do lists, crafting a game plan to clean and sanitize my breastpump parts after each of my middle-of-the-day pumping sessions at work, and executing seemingly endless edits to my hourly work schedule and to Quincy’s nursing schedule. in short, i was obsessively, absolutely, totally FREAKING ready for my return to work logistically. and, apart from a few hiccups, which come naturally {and often} with a baby and a toddler in tow, things have gone quite smoothly.

what’s also wonderful: Q has adjusted quickly to daycare. he took to the bottle without much fuss {apart from a bit of an adjustment during his first feeding session on his first official day}, and continues to be a champion eater, both while he’s at daycare and when he’s at home – he’s even increased the amount that he eats at daycare from three to four ounces of breastmilk per feeding! by his third day at daycare, he was napping well {and napping anywhere, from swaddled in a crib to snuggled up in a blanket in a bouncy seat}. he enjoys being around the other babies in his “classroom,” and thanks to having an older brother who makes noise constantly, he doesn’t seem to have any trouble sleeping with other babies and children around.

Q-L-March-2015

L is also enjoying being back at school full-time. as a reminder, we continued to send him to school two days per week while i was on maternity leave, so that he could continue to progress and learn, and to continue building relationships with his teachers and his friends. plus, his days at school allowed me time to soak up Q a bit more, which was perhaps the most unexpected blessing of it all! now that he’s back at school every day, his vocabulary is continuing to blossom at record speed, and he’s demonstrating more and more that he’s ready for potty-training, a task that we plan to jumpstart over the long Easter weekend. he’s used the potty with much success as of late, so we’re hopeful that we can work on these skills over our four-day weekend and then send him to school next week in “big-boy pants” {Pull-Ups}. it’s our goal to have him reliably potty-trained by mid-to-late summer, so that he’s ready to go to five-day-per-week preschool in undies in the fall.

finally, i wanted to share a bit about my adjustment to pumping breastmilk at work. like i said above, my supervisor and colleagues have been amazingly supportive of my role as a working, breastfeeding mama. overall, i couldn’t be happier with what it means to be a working mama, both in terms of pumping breastmilk and in terms of continuing my nursing relationship with Q when we’re together.

i do want to say this, though: please know that i realize {and that i give thanks to God each night} for all of which i’m about to share. as a faculty member at my institution, i have privileged access to excellent care for my children. not only is the daycare center only available for use by employees and students at the college at which i teach and its surrounding school district, the center is located right on the campus on which i teach. Jord and i feel remarkably grateful for our children’s teachers and the daycare facility itself.

here’s what my work days look like, in general:

  • arrive at daycare with the children 30 minutes before i need to be in my office. at this time, i drop of L {typically without much fuss or objection from him, although sometimes he needs a little more time to adjust to the day}.
  • after i drop off L in his classroom, Q and i enter his “classroom,” and i nurse him at daycare before heading into my office.
  • after some office time, i teach one class that’s 75 minutes in length. this is where my schedule varies: two days per week {Mondays and Wednesdays}, i take my lunch break and pump breastmilk {and eat, of course}. but the other three days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, i spend my entire lunch break hour with Q, which allows me to nurse Q onsite {and eat, of course}. i’m sure that i don’t have to tell you how wonderful this is, but i did want to mention that i think this is what has helped me to have absolutely no problems whatsoever with milk supply. and yes, i realize how fortunate i am to have a robust supply; trust me, i don’t take it for granted!
  • after my lunch break and/or my time with Q, i teach another class that’s also 75 minutes in length. then, during my office time at the end of every day, i pump breastmilk again.
  • as my work day comes to a close, i return to daycare to pick up my children. i tend to pick up Q first most days, unless L sees me and excitedly runs up to greet me :) i often nurse Q at daycare before driving the boys and i home, to ensure that sweet Q doesn’t have an “i’m hungry!” meltdown on our 20-minute commute home.
  • on the days on which i don’t spend my lunch time with Q {Mondays and Wednesdays}, Q has two bottle feedings at daycare. on the other days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, Q only has one bottle feeding.
  • on Mondays, i teach a night class that’s three hours in length. this means that on top of the two bottle feedings that Q receives at daycare, he also has another small {i.e. 1-2 ounces} helping of breastmilk from Daddy while i’m teaching. this dinner-time feeding has actually been our only difficulty in adjusting to my return to work; Q doesn’t like to take a bottle from his Daddy for some reason, which is maddening for all of us {and for Q himself, as he lets us all know through his angry cries and his voracious appetite when i return home on Monday nights}. we’re still working through he’s refusing the bottle from Daddy and what we can do about it; our current thought is that he likens home with nursing right from the breast, so we’re exploring ideas of Daddy taking the boys to the park {or elsewhere} and feeding Q outside of our home to see if that helps.
  • when Q and i are together {in the evenings and on the weekends}, i nurse from the breast exclusively. in other words, we don’t give him bottles unless he’s at daycare or is with another caregiver {if we’re on a date, for instance}. this helps Q and i to remain closely bonded, and i’m sure it helps to keep up my supply as well.

Mama-Q-March-2015

i’m also incredibly pleased with my breastpump; it’s a workhorse! it is comfortable to use and comes with everything that i need {and more} to pump discreetly at work. i have this one, and it was partially covered by my insurance {i think that we paid $45 out-of-pocket for the pump, which is amazing, since it retails for $270!}. i had my doctor write me a prescription, and Jord picked it up from a medical supply store near the hospital after Q was born.

we’ve tried new baby bottles with Q as well. with L, we used these Avent bottles whenever we needed to leave a bottle with a caregiver {which was rare; as a reminder, i nursed L for fifteen months, and i was home with him for fourteen of those months and then nursed only at night for the final month, when i started my teaching job}. but with Q going to daycare so much earlier in his life, i wanted to try Tommee Tippee bottles for Q, since they mimic the shape and the feel of the breast more. we’ve been very pleased with them so far! we have this set {which we used when Q was little and was feeding more frequently and drinking smaller amounts each time} and this set, which we use exclusively now and LOVE.

i’ll post another update shortly, including what we pack in Q’s diaper bag for daycare each day {i searched and searched for helpful “what to bring to daycare” lists in preparation for my return to work, so it’s only fair that i share my own!} and what Jord and i do each morning and each evening to help the morning rush to work and school flow a bit easier. stay tuned!

About Sara

Sara works in higher education, but she's most proud of her role as a Mama to two precocious boys, Lionel Conner, age 4, and Quincy August, age 2. In honor of turning 30 in 2016, she pierced her nose to "keep her young." She loves watching guilty-pleasure television, writing about motherhood, decorating her first home, sipping red wine with her husband Jordan, and chasing after her sons.

One Response to life as a breastfeeding, pumping, working mama {one month in}.

  1. Stacey April 20, 2015 at 1:25 PM #

    These days go by so quickly – I love that you’re documenting them. We will have to trade pumping funny stories one day! :)