Friday, April 11, 2008

Doing My Best

I'm now a morning person. It happened when Zane was born, and my attention to my new son was required at every hour - not just after 10:00am. Even so, I still cannot make an 8:00am meeting. It's not for lack of trying, because I have tried everything. As I drove to the Capitol this morning, I figured out why.


Every day I use a breast pump to express mother's milk so that Zane will be properly nourished while in daycare. This is not an easy task:

Challenge #1: find 20-30 uninterrupted minutes - twice - during a Session day.

Challenge #2: find an empty room in the Capitol with both an electrical outlet and a door that closes and locks

Challenge #3: hope that the availability of the empty room coincides with the 20-30 uninterrupted minutes - twice

Challenge #4: try to relax as the breast pump screams "WHACK-o," and lobbyists are knocking on said locked door, so that the milk will "let down" and the pumping session will yield at LEAST 3 ounces.

Challenge #5: try to banish nagging thoughts that stress is diminishing my milk supply


In the last three weeks, I've been able to pump maybe 8 ounces - maximum - per day (that's two pumping sessions...) to make Zane's bottles for the next day. That means I have barely enough milk for two bottles at daycare, which leaves zero flexibility in the timing of Zane's feeding schedule. If I feed him even 10 minutes earlier than 7:00am, the poor kiddo is starving by the time I fetch him at 5:00pm and feed him at 5:30pm. Zane is generally a good sport about things, but he does not like to wait for food. He gets that from his father.

So this morning, I was out of bed and in the shower at 5:50am. By 6:50am, I was out of hair & makeup and finishing with wardrobe. The bottles were prepared and ready for quick retrieval from the fridge, the pump accessories were packed in the Ziploc and already stowed in my tote bag, and even "breakfast" (a Special K bar, a banana and a frosty Perrier) was ready for the grab 'n go. Doing good...time to awaken the baby.

Zane was stirring and stretching and full of sweetness. He smiled, he cooed, he gurgled and he didn't even fuss when I pulled his onesie over his fuzzy head. 7:00am, right on time, ready to nurse. He nursed for 25 minutes, and by 7:30am, we were out the door for daycare. Here's how the rest of the morning went:

7:35am, arrive at daycare, feel the daily pang of guilt and sadness about leaving my infant to share the best part of his day with other people.

7:45am, depart daycare for the Capitol, meeting starting in exactly 15 minutes. Start feeling the pressure of running late, anticipate the stress of the day. Slow down from 50mph to 35mph at the sight of Tallahassee's finest using a radar gun on Orange Avenue.

8:10am, arrive at the Capitol. Late. Ugh. Text message from boss asking for a copy of an amendment desperately needed immediately for meeting. Double ugh. Stress cramps my shoulders and neck in a vise grip as I run from my parking spot (on one side of the Capitol Complex) to my office (on the opposite side of the Capitol Complex...a distance equivalent to a city block).

8:15am, arrive at my desk. Out of breath, shoulders scrunched with stress, hair disheveled, and perspiring a little. Meanwhile, in room 404 of the House Office Building, boss is presenting the first of our four super-gnarly bills in the 8:00am Council meeting. And I'm late.

I don't think I expected it to be easy, but I know I didn't think it would be this hard. Especially the pumping. And I know I didn't consider the effects of stress on my milk supply. If I were just able to express 12 ounces a day, instead of 8 ounces, I would have more flexibility. Four ounces doesn't sound like a lot - especially to those who blithely suggest, "just pump more often." Sure. Notwithstanding the fact that it hurts, discouragement quickly sets in at the sight of .5oz in the collection bottle after 15 minutes of pumping.

It seems very odd to me that there is so little support within the Legislature - as an employer - for new mothers; especially given the focus on "family values." I know my stress would be greatly relieved - and my milk supply greatly enhanced, perhaps - if there were some type of accommodation for nursing mothers. Really, I can't be the first legislative aide who chooses to continue breastfeeding her infant, despite Session. And I guess it can be argued there is no need for accommodation since gals like me figure it out somehow.

There are 3 weeks of Session left. 15 work days. I know the challenge of balancing Mama-hood with work will not end when the Legislature adjourns sine die on May 2nd. But, work in the District office is cushy. I have an office with a door that closes. My office is 10 minutes from my house. And the schedule is happily devoid of 8:00am meetings.


karen said...

Oh, Paige, I remember that stress. I was in a company with very few women and the first to actually get pregnant - they didn't know what to do with me! I had to be very clear about what I needed and we figured it out.

Talk to your boss about your pumping time. He might know a place or be willing to work something out so you can meet your pumping schedule with less stress. Also, consider less glamorous spots. A supply closet might have an outlet you can use - bring in a chair. Women's bathrooms sometimes have a lounge area with an outlet. Not entirely private but at least only women would be walking through. If you're modest, maybe get one of those blankets for draping over yourself and baby to use while you pump?

To increase your milk production, drink, drink, drink! Water, juice, decaf tea, whatever, just drink! Also eat more. If you want to have nourishing milk for Zane, your body needs nourishment it feels it can give away. Stress is certainly a factor in your equation but a cereal bar and a banana for breakfast might have a lot to do with it, too.

Only fifteen more days - you can do it! I'll be thinking of you...

Kristi said...

I was always a poor pumper, but the Medela double pump in the backpack really did great for me. I know what you mean about the discouragement of so little milk! It helped me alot to really push the fluids - not to the point of drowning, but to the point that I just kept a glass of something nearby. Does your pump have a battery pack? That was another aggrivation for me - mine did but it took, oh, I don't know, 16 batteries. I would also take a picture of him to look at while you pump. That made a difference with me - just visualizing them in a picture would make my milk come down faster.

LMP said...

First - join, if you haven't already. Next...I had so much trouble pumping. I drank 80 ounces of water a day, some of it in the form of mother's milk tea. I took fenugreek. I had a picture of Kate on my Medela Mercedes hunk-a, hunk-a pump. I put a lamp right next to my chest because I read that heat would help the milk let down. I pumped twice a day for 45 minutes each time. I still left the office with MAYBE 3 ounces of breast milk each day.

Next came Sarah. I had to go back to work when she was 6 weeks old. I got mastitis in both breasts when she was 2 weeks old and discovered I could pump not ONE DROP. I bought a new pump. No go. She nursed like a champ, but if I couldn't pump, I couldn't feed her while I was at work. I had to wean her.

So I had one kid who weaned herself at 5 months (tired of my poor pumping during the day, I guess) and another who only got about 2 weeks of breastmilk out of me because I couldn't be with her.

They're both incredibly healthy kids now, and growing like weeds. If you can't do it, you can't do it - but don't let le leche league make you feel like a heel.

Did I mention you should join momsriging? They care that we live in a country with virtually no maternity leave, no concern for nursing mothers and poor choices for mothers on every level. Join!

LMP said...

Why is there no spellcheck for the comments page?!? Not "momsrigning",

Keysgal@QuietWater said...

I know the most stressful days are probably coming up in the last 15 but I also know that you can do it. I never had to pump for you and you sister so don't know the stress that puts you under but I do hear some good suggestions from all the girls leaving comments. Hang in there.......

Leslie said...

I don't know you, but I found your blog listed on Kristi's page. I can completely identify with you right now. I had a difficult time pumping for my firstborn and gave up very early. I have a seven week old right now, and am dreading going back to work. Pumping has always been difficult for me. I am desparately trying to stock pile the freezer with milk to help cushion on the days that I just don't pump enough.

Good luck and hang in there!