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Thread: I don't think I can do this anymore

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    264

    Default I don't think I can do this anymore

    I came back to work 2 weeks ago when my baby (#1) was 12 weeks old. I LOVE being a mom. Until I went back to work, everything was going really well. We had some breastfeeding issues early on--my daughter was in the NICU for her first week which made establishing breastfeeding challenging but all of her health issues are resolved and the nursing is going pretty well.

    My husband is home with our baby during the day until she starts daycare across the street from my office in 2 months. I am working from home 2 days per week which has gone pretty well. My husband brings baby to me when she is hungry and sometimes she naps on my nap while I work at the computer which is really nice . On the days I'm in the office I am pumping in the morning and afternoon and usually my husband is bringing baby to my office at lunch and we nurse then. Otherwise I will pump a third time at lunch. I have really flexible hours so I can wait until she nurses one last time in the morning to leave for work and return home at the end of the day when she wakes up from her nap so that she never gets a bottle 1/2 hour before I get home.

    I have the logistics of getting out the door in the morning, have my whole pumping setup pretty streamlined, and by all measures I have a VERY flexible work arrangement relative to most working moms. I feel bad then when I say that I just don't think I can do this. I was SO committed to breastfeeding, we worked incredibly hard at it, seeing lactation consultant twice a week to get back to exclusive breastfeeding after a period of supplementation and lots and lots of pumping.

    I can do the pumping, I don't mind, but the reality of it is that I'm not getting any work done at work. I sit at a computer all day doing research and every time I get really deep into something it's time to drop everything and get up and pump again. Being a little short on sleep and missing my baby makes it more difficult than usual to focus and pick up where I left off. I share an office with several other people so I can't pump at my desk while I work. The lactation room at my workplace is on the other side of a huge building and I find that by the time I walk over there (the trip involves waiting for 2 elevators), get set up, pump and get back to my desk, I have usually spent 40 minutes. I'm thinking about getting set up to pump on my 30 minute commute, at least on the way there, which might save me one trip to the lactation room, so that might help.

    After two weeks of this I just can't see how I can do my job and continue to breastfeed at the same time. I can't quit my job because I am the sole breadwinner, and I can't even imagine looking for a different job--I would never find one more flexible than the one I have. And I LOVE my job and I have dug deep a few times and realized that I don't want to stay at home over the long run (although it's all I want to do right now).

    So I come to work every day and find myself crying in the lactation room feeling like this is so unsustainable. I think I'm slowly coming to the realization that I just can't do this and I'm mourning the loss of this wonderful breastfeeding relationship I have with my daughter which I value so much. At the same time, giving up breastfeeding is not an option for me, and neither is quitting working. But I've accomplished almost nothing in my two weeks back, I mean, my productivity is probably 1/10th of what it was. That's not going to keep me employed for very long.

    I feel so stuck. I don't see any good solution here but the only plausible one I see is to give up breastfeeding. I am so frustrated that I can't make this work when I don't even know anyone with as good a situation as I have for working with a new baby. I feel like a big drama queen for even talking about it like this. But mostly I'm just so sad.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    middle of IA
    Posts
    1,885

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    Hi mama,

    All I can say is - I've been there. Pumping is really hard. Going back to work is really hard. What I found most people didn't talk about, that was true for me, was what you say: I just wasn't getting much done! And my work is demanding, intellectually, and I was very frustrated about how much time the pumping was taking.

    But I can also say, 2 weeks in is just scratching the surface. It all gets SO much easier. You'll get better at pumping, you'll figure out ways of doing some work whle you're pumping (I ended up having to set alarms to stop, because I would get engrossed back in my work and then look up and I'd been pumping for 45 mins! Eek!), and eventually you'll pump less. I think getting set up to pump on your commute is an excellent idea. I can also reassure you that MANY moms returning to work get 1/10th of their regular work done the first two weeks, even when they're NOT pumping! It's just a hard intellectual / habit routine to change. So think carefully about which parts you can blame on the pumping/breastfeeding, and which parts you have to blame on missing your baby, pregnancy brain, etc. Those were real barriers for me. And it really does get easier.

    And remember even if you want to quit pumping - which is NOT the only plausible solution, trust me!! - you can't do it all at once, because you risk mastitis. So take things a day at a time and a step at a time. Tomorrow, pump on your commute and save that 40 mins at your desk. See how it goes. Remind yourself that others in your office take breaks for other things, and that stepping away from your work is a research-proven way of being MORE effective and insightful while you're working.

    And feel free to PM me if you want to talk more; sounds like you're in a similar place I was 8 months ago.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    19,888

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    If the lactation room is too far away- and it sounds like it is- how about talking to HR and seeing if you can find a place closer to your office where you can pump? It would be to their benefit to make that possible for you- taking 2 40 minute chunks out of your day isn't in the company's best interest, any more than it is in yours!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    I also work on the computer all day at an intellectually challenging job (I'm a post-doc researcher). Like you, I have found my productivity has gone down a ton since having our baby. I also am the only breadwinner and I can't quit my job. Before the baby was born, I had this idea that I really did not want colleagues to see me losing productivity because of the baby. I thought I would just work that much harder. Thing is, I was already working my butt off before the baby was born. So that really wasn't realistic.

    In my opinion (now) it really is not realistic to think you will have the same productivity in the year after having a baby, no matter how you are feeding the baby. The baby will need you for many many things, and your head is in babyland for a bit. When you "should" be thinking about your work, you are thinking about baby. You lose your urge to work on weekends. When the baby gets sick, you get nothing at all done for three days. However, you will learn tricks to get your work done and get you through this year when the baby needs you most. Since I went back to work my productivity has been going up. Not close to pre-baby productivity, but it's nice to see an increasing trend after a few months. I think it just took me awhile to get used to a new way of working.

    - Can you break your work up into small pieces you can do in short time periods? Before baby, I used to sit down at the computer for 8 hours to analyze data without getting up. But I have figured out how to get the data analyzed in many short blocks of 40 minutes instead.

    - If you are in a position where you choose your own work, like me, choose what is most important to you and your career. This may sound selfish, but I think lots of women tend to say yes to everything, and this is a great time to start really limiting the yeses only to the items most important to your own career.

    - I find that nursing my daughter to sleep is a fine time to be thinking about the topic sentence for a paper or an idea for a new analysis.

    - I nurse my daughter at the computer all the time while reading articles for work or typing with one hand. Do you have/can you get a hands-free pump? Can you bring your computer or i-pad or whatever with you to the place where you pump, so you can work while you're pumping? Or can you consider pumping in your own office? I shared an office with a pumping mom about 5 years ago and it didn't bother me at all. I remember being surprised that her daughter was talking (I think she was almost three) and this woman was still pumping for her twice a day. That's dedication! She was a PhD student at the time, and now has a second baby and a PhD, so obviously it can be done.

    Hope this helps some. Know that it does get easier and you will get back into your job, and become more productive with a little time. Now I'd better get back to work

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    middle of IA
    Posts
    1,885

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    i heartily agree with everything pteroglossus says too! and i just thought of another trick i learned too late - i can sit backwards on one of those kneely chairs, with my butt on the knee part, and DS lays on the seat part and will nurse and nap there while i sit at the computer. not so much now at 15 months, but i was definitely getting an hour or two a day that way even at 13 months. might be good for your days working at home.

    i turned in my dissertation on DS's first birthday; during that year i also went on the job market and taught 2 writing-intensive classes. like you, i had pretty much the best possible employment arrangement to make new motherhood & pumping easy, and i still found it quite challenging. i OFTEN think that if i'd had a less flexible situation i would have done formula, and am really amazed by women who pull through with tough situations.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    The first few weeks are an adjustment and are hard. I think you'll get into a routine. Hang in there and it will emerge. I just wanted to give you
    Blessed with DS - born 9/2/09 - nursed/pumped for 12 months
    Blessed with DD - born 3/27/12 my dreamfeeder

    903 ounces donated.
    http://www.wakemed.org/landing.cfm?id=135

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,467

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    I've really been thinking about your post and how/what I want to say, I really want to encourage and support you, I do, but I also want to tell you that you have a sweet deal, one for which I would have died for over the 28 collective months I was pumping and having go do things like beg a judge to let me stop a hearing so I could pump in a public bathroom at court, or when I had to sit on the floor with my back to the door while my boss barked orders at me though the door, praying he wouldn't walk in (he did).

    Sooooo, I want to ask you to make this work, for you and your baby. Pump while driving, in an empty office whatever but my guess is that at 2 weeks, your work is suffering because you are a new mom, and pumping is your scapegoat. You can do this mama, this is nothing! Please keep trying,modifications yes, but don't give in!
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northern Cal.
    Posts
    4,984

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    It is hard. It really is. It's a challenge. And pumping is no fun. I pumped in my car, in unfamiliar bathrooms, anywhere I could swing it, for many months. It was a logistical nightmare sometimes. Sometimes I couldn't pump and I'd be dying with engorged breasts just hoping I could make it to the end of a meeting. I also work at a challenging job with long hours. I couldn't pump in my office, so I took a laptop or cases into the conference room where I pumped so that I could get some work done. I worked from home after normal office hours (checking email, etc.) with a baby at my breast.

    Was it "sustainable"? Gosh. Sometimes it was pretty hard!! I was pretty freaking sick of pumping! I felt like it was reducing my productivity some (especially at first!). But it was worth it to keep breastfeeding, and I'm so glad I did, you know? I'm going to say it a bit bluntly: It's hard enough being away from your baby for long hours because you have to work. It would be even worse to have to wean and lose that special relationship with your baby. At least it would have been for me. Everyone has to make their own decision, of course, but for me, it was a labor of love, one of the only things that ONLY I could provide my baby. Other people could care for him, comfort him, put him down for his nap, but only I could provide him breastmilk. And that was really important to me as I grieved our separation.

    Hang in there. The first weeks are the hardest. Try to find a better place to pump (be creative!), bring work with you and multitask, keep working at it! Things will calm down and feel easier soon. We've all been there, and while you might be hearing some tough love here, don't think we don't sympathize!


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    10,440

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    I'm just going to say this. I pumped at my work. I'm a doctor. And I exclusively pumped for my fourth son for 18 months. Yep. Downed tools every 2-4 hours around the clock, at home or work, to go pump.

    Yes, you lose productivity, but it's ok.

    Can you take a computer OT tablet with you?

    This is not a reason to quit. Moms out there pump in all kinds of situations and would love to have your set up. You can do this. Pumping isn't fun, but your baby needs and deserves breastmilk.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: I don't think I can do this anymore

    Pumping and working is hard work. I won't candy coat it. I'm doing it still, my lo is 7 months old. I physically have to disrupt my work and walk to another building at my company to pump. It is not ideal conditions. Some days I hate it.
    But, I just focus on one day at a time. Sometimes just one hour at a time. I set realistic goals of what I think I can accomplish between pump breaks and ultimately what I'd like to have completed before I end my work day. These goals are also flexible, sometimes you just have a bad day. It happens to everyone no matter if you're a mommy or not.
    Maybe save the mentally challenging tasks for when you aren't pumping and do the more mundane things while you pump. I turn my email off when I'm analyzing data so that I don't distract easily.
    Hang in there, you can do it.

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