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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pumping Sucks

So, I started back at work last week. It's been a bit stressful--I worked 2 months in my new job/new profession, as a new grad, then took 3 months of maternity leave. Coming back has been, professionally, difficult and rusty, and personally, very emotional and draining. My skills are slowly coming back to me, but I definitely have a lot of moments when I feel less than confident. And leaving Lucy with a nanny has been difficult, although I think we are all adjusting relatively well. I think it's hardest for hubby--he never left his sons with anyone except his ex-wife, and he is actually working from home a couple days a week, so he hears how Lucy does with the nanny (she cries more than with us) and it's stressful.

The worst part might be the pumping. I don't mind pumping at home, really. It takes some time and I'd rather just nurse Lucy than pump and feed, but she doesn't want to nurse. I've given up trying, it's too hard on both of us. So I am pumping several times a day, which is okay at home, but very hard at work. At my hospital, the birth center is very active in making sure women everywhere can breastfeed, and they try to extend this to their employees, but my particular job makes this very difficult. Basically, every break I get, I pump while I eat. Unfortunately, most of the convenient pumping locations are in shower stalls, in the locker rooms, which are uncomfortably close to the toilets. Yuck. There is something about eating your lunch hunched over a breast pump in a shower stall, by yourself, that makes you feel a little less valued as an employee. The logistics are very difficult (packing food that I don't have to heat, getting an extension cord, finding a location to pump in that isn't already in use, etc) and it all takes a lot more time than I would normally be allotted (15 minute break? Hah!). Luckily the staff are pretty accomodating for the most part. But I have, at best, 4 breaks in a 13 hour shift, and if I get to pump for all of them, it's good (except that I spend every break eating in a shower stall).

It's funny, though. We aren't allowed to wear polar fleece in patient care areas because of infection control, but it's no problem to let employees produce their offsprings' food in a bathroom. I find a bit of dissonance in that. And I'm torn between understanding how difficult it is to accomodate nursing moms in this kind of job, and feeling that they could do a lot better. There are some designated pumping areas that are not toilets (this is, of course, a legal requirement), but they are only convenient to me when I work in angio, which isn't very often, and they are frequently already in use. So I leave for a 15 minute break and spend the first 10 minutes going from one location to the next, trying to find a place that is unoccupied. Then once I finally find one, I have to wash up, set up, pump and eat, wash everything, put it all away, and get back to my location. I always tell my relief person that I will take longer because I have to pump. But it's all just difficult, and I totally get why women give up when they go to work.

I'm not really wanting to complain about my employer about this--I am a little bit, but mostly just complaining that in general, this is difficult to do, and I don't know how much longer I will do it. I want to continue for at least this first year, but may not be able to. If Lucy was actually nursing, it would be a little easier because at least I wouldn't be pumping all the time, although it still wouldn't alleviate the work-pumping issue--at least I would have an even better reason to keep doing it. We'll see how this goes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Born to Run? Running after Birth...

I am starting to wonder how you get any real exercise with a baby. I know, shocking, right? I can walk all over the place with the baby. But I want to start running again. This isn't working out very well so far.

I was able to get to the gym twice and get on the treadmill. I think I posted about that earlier. I realized that I needed to get a new sports bra to accomodate the milk jugs. So I did that a few weeks ago. After getting a few good supportive sports bras from Title 9 (love them), I have been unable to get out to run since. I started to go the day after getting the bras (it's been 2 weeks now) but my husband needed to do some work and so I had to watch the baby. Since then I haven't had any time to do it. Either no one else is available to watch the baby, or I have a zillion other things that have to be done. (I haven't been able to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription in the last week, either.) It's frustrating, because I really do want to get out there and get moving again. It's just not happening. Anyone out there have any great ideas? She's still too little for a jogging stroller--she has to be 4 months old, or is it older?, to have the neck strength necessary.

I did return to work this week. It was so hard! We are lucky to be able to have a nanny come to our house, so we don't have to wake her up early and get her ready and take her somewhere. But it was still very, very hard. I get up at 5, pump, get ready for work, and leave by 6. Baby is still asleep, and usually so is my hubby. I don't get off work until 8pm, and get home between 8:15 and 8:30. By then it's time for her to be going to bed (and that's now, in a couple months her bedtime will have moved up even earlier...she'll either be in bed when I get home or she'll be way overtired and needing to be there). Again, I'm not exactly reinventing any mommy problems here. But it's tough.

Not only was leaving Lucy all day hard, but getting back into the job was also very tough. I'm in a new career. I was in my new job for two months, then was off for 3 months. I wasn't really feeling proficient by the time I left, and coming back felt very rough. The second day was better than the first. My job isn't really normal--you don't want your anesthetist to be preoccupied with her newborn baby, or to be feeling like she's off her game for any reason. And then there was the pumping. The closest location I can pump in is the shower stall in the locker room. I get two 15 minute breaks and two meal breaks in my 13 hour work day. During those breaks I have to pump and eat, and getting there and back takes almost 15 minutes in itself. Then there's setting up, pumping (which requires relaxing, ha!), washing everything up, and getting back. Plus the joy of eating in a shower stall on a little stool. This country is so messed up when it comes to supporting working parents. And this is at a big hospital, one that is supposed to be supportive of lactating moms. Needless to say, on that first day, I was only able to pump a little over half what I usually do. Very frustrating.

I think next week will be better, though. I'm orienting to the areas I couldn't work in when I was pregnant next week. The nanny has the lay of the land, more or less. I hear this gets better, and everyone says that eventually I'll be glad to get to work and get away from the demands of parenting for a little while. I'm sure that's true, but for now it's definitely hard!