Back to Work

Here I sit on the opposite side of maternity leave. Let me tell you something… it sucks. It sucks just as much as I thought it would.

Today is Charlotte’s second day with her nanny. She’ll be with my parents on Mondays, a nanny Tues-Thurs, and then I’m working from home on Fridays. My boss isn’t thrilled about this development, but oh well. Everyone else has spent time working from home post-baby, and I’m not going to be the exception just because my boss is a chauvinist jerk.

Anyway, the nanny is lovely. She’s actually my aunt’s stepdaughter so she’s extended family. I had never met her until a month ago, but the rest of my family knows her well and they all rave about how intelligent and kind she is. I feel like that’s quite the compliment when being described by someone—intelligent and kind. We should all strive to be associated with descriptors like that. She doesn’t have much experience around babies (her experience is with toddlers), so there’s a learning curve, but I think she’s going to be okay.

The plan is that Charlotte will have this childcare arrangement until Catch’s summer vacation and then she’ll spend the summer with Catch. When August rolls around, she’ll start daycare. This gives me PLENTY of time to find a daycare I like. Charlotte will be a year old by then, so I’ll be more comfortable with her ability to hold her own.

Being back to work means being topless and pumping in a giant closet that they converted to a lactation room. So far, pumping has gone well. On Monday, I pumped every 2 hours and I managed to pump exactly what she ate while I was gone. Win.

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Yesterday, the power was out in our building (crazy wind) so I had to pump in the dark by the light of a pocket flashlight that our receptionist had at her desk. I walked out of the closet with my shirt on inside out. Whoops. At least I was covered.

If you have any advice for pumping at work, I’m all ears. Eyes. Whatever. Do you use bags or bottles? Do you rinse your flanges or not? How frequently do you pump and for how long?

Meanwhile, my perfectly adorable baby is busy being perfectly adorable. Tummy time has been improving, and she actually rolled over for Catch last week. I haven’t seen her do it yet myself, but I’m sure it won’t be long.

Look how long she’s getting! It’s crazy!

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27 thoughts on “Back to Work

  1. Bags can leak. Don’t use bags except for freezing. And then thaw them in a container that can catch leaks, just in case.

    Are you using hands on massage techniques before and during? Do you continue to pump after flow stops? Basically, there are a lot of good tips, just want to know where you are starting from.

    • I’ve been massaging intermittently. I’m not very consistent about it. I guess I need to be better! I don’t pump for long after flow stops…just a minute maybe. I go longer when I pump at home, but at work I’m more concerned with freeing up the room for my fellow pumper and getting back to work. I double pump with a hands free bra. I try to look at pictures of Charlotte and massage every couple of mins. I usually go for 20-25 mins depending on how much I have. I’m averaging about an ounce an hour if I pump every 2-3 hours.

  2. Man, she’s cute. She’s like the cutest baby (after Ansel, although you might debate me on that, I guess.) Here are my pumping recc’s:
    I pump every 2-21/2 hours, depending on my day. I HIGHLY reccomend doing compressions a la the standford maximizing production video (I can link to it if you have no idea what I am talking about!) When I DON’T do compressions, I get about 2 oz per session, with compressions, I can get 3-4. It means not working while pumping, but it also means more milk in a smaller amount of time.
    I have a cooler bag where I store milk, and I pump into bottles then transfer to bags. My bags hold 5 oz, so I will just combine different sessions. The benefit of bags are they are easier to travel and freeze, although I’m not a fan of the waste.
    I put my bottles and flanges in the fridge (or in my cooler bag when I’m out of the office) and don’t even rinse (I keep them in a wet bag in the fridge) because it’s way too time intensive. I wash at home in the evening, and sterilize using one of those microwave sterilization bags once a week on Fridays.
    Those are the things that have worked for me. You can do this, and it will get easier, I promise. And, it totally sucks. so, hugs.

    • I’ve been doing compressions that my LC showed me, but I’m not very consistent. I am totally going to look up that video. I get about 1 ounce an hour usually. It would be nice to bump that up a bit. Every drop counts! Right now she’s eating three 3oz bottles while I’m away so I make it by the skin of my teeth. Im so glad I have you guys to bounce things off of. The other girl at work who pumps is struggling so much and she was totally isolated until I got back to work. It helps to have a village.

      • I think that’s a reasonable amount. Especially if you are sure the care givers are pace feeding. I would also try to pump a bit when you are home on the weekend. Even getting one extra bottle to start the week relieves the stress. Plus, you don’t have fridays to worry about. 🙂

      • C actually gets one formula bottle a day, so I pump when that happens. She wasn’t gaining enough weight (less than an ounce in 5 days) once I started EBF, so the LC had us try adding a formula bottle and her weight shot right back up on track.

  3. She is SO long! I love her. ❤
    I always pumped once a day at work (but Evie was a year old when I went back so that's why) and just used bags. I never had any troubles with them leaking like the above poster.

    I had some wipes that I would use to wipe down my pump equipment, and then I'd wash them every couple days. You're doing great, by the sound of things!

    • I know! She’s still sleeping in her rock & play at night but she TOTALLY doesn’t fit! She barely even fits in the stinking bassinet. I’m not ready for her to be in her crib but we’re running out of options for those legs!

      • For clarity, they don’t leak often, but when they do it’s heartbreaking. I find the madela bottles are very convenient and I’ve never spilled more than a tiny bit. I also have a fridge just for me so I keep my parts in there (after rinsing, but that’s my preference and unnecessary). I sterilize every 3 days basically with the dr browns bags. I only pump every 4 hours or so because I pump so slowly that it takes an hour to get any decent amount. I usually get flow for a few minutes, then wait while I keep massaging, then it starts up again, rinse and repeat ad nauseum. lol If you don’t have to do that, I would try pumping every 2-3 hours at first to keep your supply up.

      • It’s so crazy how pumping is such a different experience for everyone. I’m sort of with you on the bags. I haven’t experienced leakage, but I have spilled several times when transferring to a bottle and it’s so painful!

      • I typically don’t even get an ounce an hour, so I go longer so it’s less frustrating to see the amount I pump. It’s psychological for me. Also, I switch to single pumping after double pumping for the first 20-30 minutes. It lets me massage more intensely.

  4. When I first came back to work I pumped three times a day, then gradually down to two, now one. I adjusted as he needs changed. I know production has been hard for you but if you have a bit of supply built up I’d test things out and see if you get more pumping 3 or 4 times or whatever you are doing minus one. Some woman have larger reserves so can get as much pumping less, some cannot. I HATE pumping (although now bub is exclusively bottle/pumped milk fed during the day and only nurses overnight so I do it a lot.) I just rinse my parts between pumps and wash with soap at night. I am up to three sets of parts so really I just wash every other day. I store in the medela bottles and have two of the black bottle cases. Now that I am not making enough to store I just rotate those daily. Home is one, new one tomorrow.

    • Pumping really bites. I hate it too. Prior to going back to work I was actually pumping at night and feeding it back to her in bottles because she would sleep longer bit sounds crazy, but it’s the difference between nursing her every 2 hours all night or giving her a bottle every 3-4. This kid does not like to sleep! Now that I have to pump all day, I’m nursing her at night again. Last night it was 10, 12, 2, 3 & 4:30. I want to beat my head against a wall.

      • Yeah, the good news is that improves a little once she adjusts to you being gone. We do bottle at night for the same reason but it does mean some nights (like last night) he’s extra needy and I want to murder everyone

  5. Of course I read this while pumping. First things first: it WILL start feeling more natural to take these breaks eventually.

    I am lucky to have a shared lactation room with comfy chairs, a fridge, a sink, lockers, microwave, and a hospital grade pump. I pump 2-3 times a day, always aiming for 3. I keep spare bottles (Medela) in my locker along with the hands-free bra and extra membranes, dish soap, a bottle brush, and sterilization bags. I rinse parts with cold water and store them in the fridge between sessions. Once every day or two I wash with warm/hot water and use the sterilization bags less often. My supply is still pretty minimal unless I’ve been nomming lactation cookies so I definitely massage to boost output. I do not get work done, and have not found that photos or videos of the baby help (but have also not been super scientific in confirming this, more’s the pity). I rush home to nurse after and maybe make it 50% of the time. I also pump morning and evening after feeding, which barely gets me what the baby eats during the day. I also pump on weekends–morning and evening always, but usually once more each day.

    I love coming home to big grins–absolutely the best part of working outside the home.

    Congrats on your first few days. I hope it feels less torturous soon.

    • Wow, your setup sounds amazing! I wish we had a sink in our room! You are certainly on close terms with your pump. When I was pumping that much I was so close to quitting. Major props, lady. 3x a day is my limit. More than that and I start daydreaming about drowning my pump in the sink or throwing it against a block wall.

  6. First things first- Welcome to your new normal! You’re going to kick ass at this. It is hard to be away from your baby, but it will get easier. I promise.

    I pump at work 3 times a day. The best advice I can give is to make this a standing appointment in your calendar and DO NOT give up that time for anything. If people are douches and try to schedule you during that time, tell them you have a really important meeting to go to. Because you do– it’s a meeting with yourself to take care of your kid.

    I tried WFH once and it went poorly. I think Chick was just so excited to be home with me, that he didn’t want to let me do ANYTHING else other than play, sleep and hug. On me. The whole day. Typing with one hand and sneaking in conference calls while holding a squirming baby– about as tricky as it sounds.

    If you figure out how to productively WFH, I would love to hear it!

    • You know, my plan was to stick to a set schedule. I figured that would be easiest for everyone so we’d all know when I’m not available. Unfortunately I share the room with another mama and she has supply issues so her schedule varies every day depending on when her daughter last eats and when she gets to work. I work around her because I know how hard it is on her.

      I’m so nervous about working from home. I hope to dog I can make it work because we cannot afford the nanny a 4th day!

  7. She is getting. Cuter and cuter. If you use the milk right away with Charlotte I would just pump into bottles cause they are easier to store. Washing the flanges at work means you don’t have to do it when you get home and they make steam bags you can just rise and steam them in between pumps at work. My doula told me a trick though…put the flanges in a ziplock bag and they can be refrigerated for 24 hours without cleaning! I would pump as much as you would feed if your able or at least once every two hours so your supply doesn’t drop (supply and demand). BTW I’m so happy your breastfeeding is getting better!

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