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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pumps

Blog

The Ups, Downs and Sideways of Working Motherhood

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pumps

Alex Steinman

Hello! I took a break from the blog while I transitioned back to work for a few weeks. Also, every time I sit down to write, I fall asleep at my computer. Maybe I'm tired from the work adjustment, but it's more likely the enormous glass of wine I have at dinner hits me in the face right around 10pm. After three months of unorganized side-hustling, diving headfirst into a routine is a welcome challenge.

The first three weeks back to work have been all about logistics. How do I schedule meetings around my exploding boob bombs? What time do I need to wake up to get into the office sometime before noon? Do I smell like I may have showered in the last week? All valid questions.

Maneuvering four sleepy people out the door is like corralling zombies. We stumble over each other in the dark, and the little ones grumble about being hungry (probably for brains). I forgot breastfeeding adds an extra 30 minutes to the morning. Nothing beats nursing Z on my side half-asleep in bed, while the toddler snuggles up watching Sesame Street on my phone.

Once I've mustered the strength to peel myself out of bed, the morning begins with a series of forgetting things. No matter how much I prep the night before, there's no guarantee we will make it down the street in one shot. The number of times I go up and down the stairs increases as the number of minutes I have to get out the door decreases. Remembering the milk, pump, kids, pants and deodorant is a struggle. At least one of these things will not happen. It's usually deodorant and sometimes pants (sorry neighbors).

After everyone is out the door, I pump. I pump while driving, emailing, writing, reading, texting, scrolling, and talking on the phone. If you call me, and it sounds like I'm in a factory, it's because I'm actually a factory producing milk all day long. It's kind of amazing what mother-bodies can do. I'm literally a soft-serve machine.  If only I could shoot sprinkles out of my ass. I'm lucky enough to have a workplace that allows for some flexibility. If you're not sure if you can swing it at work (and you want to), it can't hurt to ask for the time and space you need for pumping. They'll either be super supportive or uncomfortable enough to give you whatever you want to end the conversation. Boobs.

I was explaining pumping while driving to a girlfriend of mine, and she asked me if that totally bummed me out. It's complicated. Yes, having to pump so much because our country's non-existent parental leave policies force a lot of people to stop nursing before they'd like to really sucks. However, this is our reality. I actually feel really empowered hooked up to my milk machine. I may not have time to make a gourmet breakfast, but I pumped 8 ounces on the highway. Boom.

For me, breastfeeding has been 50% mental. I went into number two giving zero fucks because the less fucks I give, the more I can produce. Being more flexible and forgiving of myself has helped. When I'm stressed about the milk, my boobs are like, "nah." When I worry about people seeing a little side-boob at a restaurant, my letdown is a total letdown. Since going coverless and really setting aside time to pump wherever and whenever, I have so much more chill. It makes up for the other areas in my life where I have no chill at all.

When I nursed Cooper, I was a total stress ball. Add a dairy-elimination diet due to his eczema, and my supply and my happiness dropped to nearly nothing. Without cheese, I lived a sad existence, yearning for my favorite food group: cow. I would have liked to breastfeed for longer, but I stopped at 5 months. I spent my child's college fund on formula, and we hope he's smart or athletic enough for a scholarship someday. We all moved on with our lives after a little guilt and a lot of wine.

Fed is best, so choose the path to minimal therapy for you and yours. There is a league of badass women out there managing to keep a human alive while supporting companies, organizations and households. If you are pumping, go you. We are the sisterhood of the traveling pumps.