Krista Holmes shares her personal story about breastfeeding while trying to be a working mama.
Even before my son was born, I knew that I wanted to be able to pump – mostly, for the freedom and possibilities that it provided. Little did I know that 4.5 months later I would re-enter the workforce (more on that some other time) and become a pumping machine.
About 3 weeks before Tyson was born, my husband and I headed down to Babies’R’Us to purchase the pimped out version of a breast pump. Unlike many mothers, I hadn’t read too much on being a first time mother for fear of overwhelming an already anxious me. But pumping was something that I wanted to do. So I did the research and settled on my brand: a Medela Freestyle Breastpump. Expensive, but worth every penny.
Within 3 weeks of being born, we had a 50th birthday party to attend. I was SO excited to be going – just a few hours for my husband and I to be out.
Without a baby.
Oh, and did I mention that there was wine?
I pumped a handful of times leading up to this night out, so I felt like I was prepared.
It was just up to the Medela bottle and my son to keep the night going. We made it through dinner and a few drinks when my mom texted to say that Tyson drank all of the milk!
WHAT? All of the milk? But I had left over 16oz! It was time to get back to my parents’ home – luckily I had more milk in the fridge at home.
To be honest, I had only breastfed my child up until this point, and of course I had NO idea how much milk he was getting – just that he had wet diapers and that he was growing; essentially the main things that we first time mom’s look for. So, it was time to evaluate this whole pumping situation.
Was it worth it?
You betcha it was! Within another week or two, we met up with friends for a birthday dinner. Except the dinner was almost an hour from our house, the restaurant was behind schedule on reservations and our friends (all still childless) were all late. I kept in touch with my parents and learned that my child was doing well on the 4 bottles that I left him. It was great that things were going so well. Well at least for them…..
This was the longest that I’d gone without feeding my child or pumping, and I was ready to burst!
You know when you see sausages in the pan and they just burst all of a sudden? That was the state of my boobs. Both of them. And since we hadn’t received our food yet and had the long drive ahead, I had to do it – pump and dump. But hand expressing? Thankfully we had reviewed that in prenatal class so I was good to go.
Fast forward 3 months later, I was applying for a job. Yes, I was ready (mostly) to return to the workforce. But it meant so many more steps now as a mom. Other than the obvious – Getting 2 of us ready. Being on time. Not looking like a zombie. It meant getting up even earlier.
After chatting with a few other moms that went back to work early, I felt as prepared as I could be. So I pumped, often, for the 2 weeks leading up to the start of the job. I had my “just in case” pumps all bagged up and labeled.
I had pumped for over 3 months now and I seemed to have it down pat. The pimped out breast pump that we had purchased was awesome. The Medela Freestyle would allow me to pump from both breasts WHILE DOING SOMETHING ELSE! Like watering the plants that handn’t received a drop of H20 in weeks. Or laundry. Or reading a book. Or WHATEVER! I could still DO things while pumping. Obviously my son needed to be considered (I should add here that I miss those long naps) but pumping bottles could be my middle name.
But don’t think that I didn’t have issues. Sometimes I’d be too exhausted. Or sometimes I’d spill when pouring from bottle to bag. Or sometimes I’d have to pump due to the pain from one of the many blocked milk ducts that I experienced. And then there was leaking, through my shirt and sweater.
If I provide any words of wisdom, it is to plan when you’re going to. And where.
I might pump while breastfeeding my son (side note – I think that mothers who have twins and breastfeed both at the same time deserve a medal), or pump while he was showering with my husband. But I always tried to plan it. I think that planning helped because then I was in the right mind frame to pump. I would have time to grab a drink (stay hydrated), and grab my iPhone, a book or a magazine. And then find a comfy place. Though I have been known to pump while driving out of town, while on a conference call, and even once while walking on a trail with another mother.
When we started our son on cereal, we were able to use most of the frozen milk that I had in the cereal. And then we mixed some of the breast milk when introducing homo milk.
For those that find it odd that I returned to work early, it wasn’t because I needed to. It was because I wanted to. Sure there were days when I second guessed my decision, but then I remember that my sanity was still intact, and that in fact, I might’ve been a better mom to our son. For now, from one pumping-breastfeeding-foodnatzi-mother to another, pumping gave me options. It gave me comfort. But most of all, it gave the option of someone else feeding my son. And here I am 17 months later, and I still pump the occasional time (usually it’s to avoid a blocked milk duct).
I think that with the right pump, the right surroundings, and of course the right support, pumping can be something that can really help a mother have some time. Kudos to those mothers who exclusively pump – that takes discipline!
Krista Holmes,KH Mgmt, became a mother in the summer of 2014. She works behind-the-scenes in the Canadian music industry, designs several social media campaigns and manages special events. Her love for motherhood & music can be found on her blog, mommylovesmusic.wordpress.com.