By Sharon DiOrio
As a full-time working woman and part-time pumping mom, I’ll be the first to admit that pumping breastmilk for my baby can be a bit inconvenient. But then again, babies can be a bit inconvenient.
When I was originally nervous about whether I’d be able to keep up, another pumping mom at my job gave me her perspective.
At the time, I was exhausted and hugely pregnant. It was while making my regularly scheduled waddle to the bathroom that I bumped into Amy. She’d been taking over the ladies room of our small loft office space for about eight months to pump milk for her son. Some of the younger employees would smirk when they saw her with her pump bag and a door sign that simply said “Bathroom in use for 15 minutes.” She took it all in quiet good humor.
“Amy,” I said, “I gotta be honest with you. I don’t know if I’m up for that pumping thing.”
She stopped, and with a warm smile of the maternal sisterhood, gave me what was likely my first lesson in parenthood.
“Sharon, let me tell you, I don’t like that I have to leave my baby during the day and I do feel guilty about it. But three times a day, I take 15 minutes to do something for him. Something that I can do even though I’m not with him. I sit, think about nothing but him and produce the perfect food for him. Then when I get home, I drop my bags and reach for him. We nurse to re-connect in a way that we probably wouldn’t if we were formula feeding. The pumping is for him and for me.”
She hugged me and we both had a short little “hormonal moment” thinking about our respective babies. I thought a lot about what she said, because it made perfect sense. As it happened, my first real lesson in parenthood was about listening to your heart. My heart said that I had to give pumping an honest try.
Later on, she and another mother at work organized a group to pitch in for what I now think is the perfect shower gift for a working mother: a Medela Pump In Style.
I’ve been pumping for awhile now, and it has actually gone smoother than I imagined. Three times a day, I now take over our ladies room with my door sign and pump bag. I sit, relax, and think about my baby. Regardless of what kind of workday I have, I go home happy with the gentle heft of the bottles of breastmilk in my cooler bag to remind me that I accomplished something important today.
I make my long commute home, walk in the door, drop my bags, and reach for my baby girl. We baby-waltz to the couch where she nurses herself into a stupor. I watch her rolling her eyes in ecstasy and relax for a few minutes, awash in the stress-reducing hormones that nursing releases. I still hate leaving her, but I love coming home to nurse her.
If you haven’t decided about whether or not pumping is for you, please think about it. You may find that it’s the one thing that keeps you sane while trying to juggle the incredible load of full-time mother and full-time employee. Remember, the saddest thing is in giving up before you even try.