Baby #1: When I became pregnant I knew I was interested in breast feeding but knew very little on how to actually breastfeed a baby! I took a breastfeeding class at a local maternity shop, and remember being completely overwhelmed but I was determined to make it work for my little baby’s health. I remember receiving my breast pump in the mail opening it for the first time while I was still pregnant and being totally freaked out by the awkward contraption. I plugged it in, turned it on to hear the wah-wah, wah-wah and remember thinking, “I have to connect this to my body?!” Little did I know, that this little machine would become my side kick for months and months of pumping while away from my baby at work.
When my baby was born, he latched pretty well, but the nurses discovered he had tongue-tie shortly after he was born. Once we got that corrected, our breastfeeding journey was off to a great start. I exclusively breastfed on demand for the first 5 ½ months of my baby’s life before I had to go back to work full time. About a month before I returned to work, I pumped every morning religiously after my son's first feeding of the day. I was able to store about 60 ounces before he went to day care, 3 days a week, at 5 1/2 months old. My mother in law watched him the other 2 days per week. He was never great with the bottle, and much preferred me, but after his teachers and grandma were able to get used to his feeding cues, he would take 3-4 ounce bottles a few times a day. My original goal was to breastfeed him through the transition of my going back to work and him entering day care. I knew he would get sick and I thought my breast milk would be our natural line of defense against illness. Once we got into our new routine, it was easier for me to keep breastfeeding and pumping than not. My supply was great, and breastfeeding was truly the only thing that would calm him down if he were upset or sick or tired. He did get sick at day care, but I don't think his illnesses were too severe and I attribute a lot of that to breast milk antibodies.
As we drew closer to his first birthday, he was getting to the point where he wasn't interested in sitting still long enough to eat with me and I was ready to have my body (and wardrobe) back! I ended up having a very hard time getting my body to stop making milk once I decided I was done breastfeeding, which I feel like is never really talked about. I spent so long trying to keep my supply up and maintaining enough milk to feed my little boy and now I was having the opposite problem: too much milk! I remember the week I was trying to stop breastfeeding so vividly: my son had turned one years old, we had bought our first home, and it was my 30th birthday. It took me two long and painful weeks to get rid of my milk (while moving and celebrating big birthdays), but I was eventually back to normal. In the end, I was so proud I was able to breastfeed/pump for a little over 12 months through all of life’s obstacles. It was a labor of love that was often times stressful, but one that I will always cherish and remember as a special bond that formed between just my son and I.
Baby #2: I gave birth to my second baby boy 2 ½ years later. I felt so much more comfortable in all things “mom” the second time around. (I even left the hospital less than 48 hours after my repeat c section because I just wanted to be home with both my babies.)
One of my concerns with Baby #2 was that I wouldn’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to breastfeeding as I did with my first son. Some of my friends with two kids had told me they had to give up breastfeeding earlier than they had wished with their second child. I’m kind of glad I was concerned about this going in, because I feel like it helped me focus on my end goal so much more: to breastfeed/pump for my baby for one year! I returned to work the second time around when my youngest was 7 months old. We had a few weeks of him adjusting to the bottle, just like his older brother, but he has finally found his groove with his new nanny. He is just about 8 months old and we are well on our way to meeting, and maybe even exceeding, our breastfeeding goal. Juggling two kids, working full time, and keeping up with my hungry baby has been no easy task, but we are all doing the best we can!
Through both pregnancies and births, I’ve been fortunate to work for a company that has a great maternity leave policy and supports working mothers in their breastfeeding goals. The company provides 6 private Mother’s Rooms on various floors of our 21 story building. The rooms are equipped with rocking chairs, hospital grade pumps, sinks, refrigerators, soap, and anything you need to clean parts and bottles. All of the mothers have to schedule time on a shared Outlook calendar and we are pretty good about working around each other’s schedules if there is a last minute meeting or conference calls run long. I really feel so lucky to have these rooms because I often hear about mothers who have to pump for their babies in bathrooms, supply closets or even rooms where people can walk right in on them. I hope more and more companies are able to provide Mother’s Room amenities to their employees because I feel like they will not only attract top talent, but retain loyal workers.