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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.


amandakiska said...

I remember those days well. I had to pump in a bathroom and I was self-conscious about the noise the pump made since it was right off a public area. I ended up expressing by hand which was so much faster and easier. I wish I had an easy answer for you. I ended up switching jobs when my daughter was six months and was actually able to have her with me which I know wouldn't be an option for you. It made it easier and I was able to breast feed until she was 18 months, but I know I probably wouldn't have if I had not switched jobs.

Heather said...

Please keep updating. I'm trying to get pregnant and it's very useful to hear about people's experiences with the band and children, even if not directly related to trying to lose weight! Hang in there! And congrats on your new little one!