Thursday, September 9, 2010

Milk Making Machine

Two weeks from today I'll be leaving my daughter and returning to work, and I'm no where close to being ready.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I was supposed to be the woman who got stir crazy at home; tired of talking to someone with a one word vocabulary (Dada) and ready to get back to work. Besides, that's me! Career-driven woman wanting the baby and the bucks.

But that woman has died and I've come back a mother.

I could feel my old self slipping away in the early weeks. I tried to fight it. "When will I feel myself again?" I asked. And people told me never. Rather, I'd find my new self. It's true.

Instead of excitement with just two weeks left at home I'm feeling guilt. How in the world will I leave my daughter? I'm her life-source, her entertainment, her biggest fan (and I hope she's mine). How will I do this?

I've found my guilt is eased with pumping. Yes, pumping.

Not in a masochistic, punishment kind of way; but rather as a mama squirrel gathering nuts for her young to store for the winter.

I use a Phillips Avent double electric breast pump. I actually won it in a contest you may have helped me win. I love it, it's comfortable and it was a style I liked (closed valve).

I don't have a ton of time to pump between the time my daughter is nursing (she eats a lot) but since my supply is heaviest in the morning I pump on one side while she eats from the other. The side I pump from I don't feed from at her 5am and 7am feedings. So when I pump around 9am I get between 5 and 7 ounces from that one side. Having her nurse on the opposite side helps the letdown--or flow of milk--so I usually get more that way. It takes coordination, and I've lost quite a bit when she's kicked the bottle off the pump but I have it down to a science now.

I've done this almost every day since my daughter was about three weeks old. Trying to see how much I can store and save for emergencies to use once I go back to work has become my addiction.

To date I've saved 184 ounces of milk. My freezer now holds more breastmilk than food. And the sight is one I'm mighty proud of.
milk stash
It gives me flashbacks to this picture taken about a year ago.
Go big or go home.

Despite my skills at filling my fridge with human milk, I'm still worried about going back to work and keeping up with pumping. Before maternity leave I rarely had time for a lunch break, much less a few pumping breaks at work. I'm still not sure how things will go when I get back but if people manage to take several smoke breaks a day and still make deadline, I should be able to pump out my quota of milk and still get my story in by 5.

I know my job though and I know I won't always get those breaks. Plus, going from feeding my baby on demand whenever she wants to scheduled pump breaks may put a damper in my supply. So the more I store the better (though in my non-deep freezer it just lasts for 3 months).

I've armed myself with tools to help me be successful as long as possible. My pump, as mentioned before. Picture sideshows on my phone of my daughter, a schedule I hope to follow (barring breaking news) and what I'm most excited about--a PumpEase--My hands free pumping bra.
I've used it a few times when I've tried double-pumping while Lil'J is sleeping, and it's brilliant.

Normally I'm holding one pump to me and holding my daughter in the other arm. My hands aren't free to do anything else. With my PumpEase I'm able to type at the computer, talk on my phone, and move around as much as my pump will let me. I know it'll be a lifesaver when I return to work and I've already made it a habit to store it in my pump bag.

There will probably be times where I need to pump in my car, if I remember to bring my pump along with me, and get a car adapter for it (need to get on that) plus my feeder frock from LaDy LaDuke (to stay discreet) and my PumpEase will make pumping while driving possible.

Same if I'm back at the office. I can lock myself in a room and I'll be able to pump while I write or edit on my laptop.

I'm not sure how much milk I'll need to extract a day in order for it to be enough for my daughter for the next day, but I'm hoping I can get enough.

It's a huge blessing that my husband will be at home with my daughter. And since we don't live far from my job, when I have the time I want to come home and feed her during my lunch breaks.

Oh, I say this now but only time will tell how it will all pan out. My goal is to make it to six months exclusively breastfeeding, then I'll be able to start giving her mashed up veggies and stuff to help tie her over.
double chins
I feel horrible about leaving her so I can return to work but it's not possible for me to stay at home with her at this time in my life. But somehow, knowing I'm still the one sustaining her chins and rolls will help me feel a little less guilty for not being with her.
Transitioning back to work will probably be the hardest thing I've done in my life. But I'm preparing as best as I can.

Now I only I could find a way to make more freezer space...

Everyone who comments on this post before the 11:59pm on September 23rd (my first day back at work) will be entered to win a hands-free PumpEase hands-free pumping bra of their choice.
You get extra entries for following PumpEase on Twitter and/or Facebook will choose the winner. Good luck!