Feed the machine

by Ginger on February 2, 2010

in Mom Thoughts, Working Mom

Three times a day, I leave my desk and head upstairs to an empty office. There is no phone, no computer, nothing but a chair, a desk, and a door with a lock. Three times a day I sit in this empty office and willingly connect myself to a machine that makes me feel distinctly like a dairy cow, so that my kid can eat the next day. Ah, the joys of pumping.

I don’t like anything about pumping. About the only thing I like is the little bit of satisfaction I take in filling those bottles up everyday. Other than that?  I don’t like that little room, which is always either freezing or about a billion degrees. I loathe the actual pumping process–I find that it hurts no matter what I try, and to fully empty the boobs I have to mash the hell out of them, so that’s fun too. I don’t like the stress of “did I make enough milk for the kid to eat tomorrow?”  I definitely don’t like the weird situation of sitting with my boobs exposed at WORK. I mean, that’s a bit of a mind trip right there.

Mostly, though, I don’t like the catch-22 of guilt and frustration that comes from spending 90 minutes a day not working while at work. Especially right now, when I’m so crazy busy. I feel guilty for taking the time to pump, and then I feel guilty for feeling guilty because, hello, feeding the kid isn’t exactly a frivolous way to spend my time.  It’s not like I’m screwing around doing nothing.

I also know that most people (myself included) probably spend that much time not working while they are in the office–reading blogs, making personal calls, chatting with coworkers, etc. But I think part of what my pumping schedule does is make me feel like I can’t do any of the rest of that–like I already have my “non-work” allocation. So I find myself stressed when a coworker wants to chat about the baby in the hallway, or when I need to make a personal call to deal with insurance, or when I spend 10 minutes eating my lunch. I end up trying to do anything non-work related while I pump, which just adds to my stress about the whole thing.

I know we could put the kid on formula, and there will come a day, I’m sure, when that happens. I have nothing against formula (except maybe the cost, but then I’m kind of cheap about some things), so it’s not a matter of any kind of disdain for that option. But for now we’ve made the decision to commit, as much as possible, to breast milk. So for the time being, I’ll continue to lock myself in that little room,  hook myself up to that milking machine and pump away.

SoMi's Nilsa February 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

It’s too bad you don’t have a laptop at work, where you could just bring your work with you.

Her February 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm

I was thinking the same thing about the laptop. Ah well!

Chandy February 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Listen Ginger, it’s not like you take a million smoke breaks all day long, like every other person I’ve ever worked with. You are literally still doing something super productive during those 90 minutes. So when you feel guilty about your breaks (which are a temporary thing) , just think of all those hackers outside who have taken hours and hours worth of smoke breaks on the company dime without a moment of guilt…and keep on pumpin’ on!
btw, your little boy is A-dorable:)

Accidents February 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

I feel you, oh I feel you (though you already know that, because you graciously commented on my post about this same issue).
And I feel you on the thing that can’t be explained away, which is that you know you you are still “working” and that other people smoke or blog or whatever, it doesn’t change anything. You will feel stress and guilt no matter what.

My employment is teaching a college class, so I don’t have set hours outside those I spend in the classroom. I pump during the day when I’m grading or writing my dissertation; so I’m not on anyone’s clock but my own. AND YET I AM SO STRESSED ABOUT IT. Like, I need this time to be working! I’m paying for childcare right now! And, yet, I need this milk to feed mah baby!

And of course the guilt that comes with: I could just be nursing my baby right now instead of this barbaric-cum-robotic machine, if I was WITH him.

Stacie February 6, 2010 at 7:28 am

Oh how I remember those days…with Preston it was sitting in the janitor’s office at the school I taught at. You can only imagine what kind of “office” the janitor has! With John I was a traveling teacher so it was whatever closet, bathroom or cranny some kind person could stick me for the 10 grueling minutes it took to fill those bottles! It is funny to think about it now…sorta like the dunkin donut commmercial….got to make the donuts…but got to make the milk! It is pure torture but I tell you what…I have two really healthy kids and I think that a lot of that is cuz they got the Mom’s milk for a good 8 months of their lives…hang in their girl!
BTW…do you ever feel like Madonna in the Like a Virgin Tour when you strap those suckers on!?!? 🙂

Ginger February 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Accidents, at the end of the day, I think it’s the guilt (if that’s even the right word…sadness maybe more accurate for me) of not being with him that causes all the rest. I mean, I’ve got a good work ethic and all, but I probably take it more to heart because I wish I didn’t have to do it at all.
Gah, this mommy thing is tough sometimes.

Ginger February 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Stacie,
I don’t know that I feel so much like Madonna as I do a dairy cow…I’ve been around dairy farms and the mechanical milking machines, and that image just always comes to mind. Which, you know, is fun for my self-esteem and all!
I’m not sure I’d stick with it if I didn’t have a decent place to pump, or if I had to travel a ton while doing it. I don’t know that I’m that selfless–but since I haven’t been tested yet, maybe I’d surprise myself. You were a rockstar!

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