At first, I detested pumping.
I started pumping a few times a day when I returned to work this Fall. Wyatt was 9 weeks old and I’d been breastfeeding him exclusively. He adjusted well to having the sitter feed him with a bottle, and he was consuming the milk I left each day much more quickly than I’d anticipated. But, no matter how conscientiously I pumped, I just didn’t produce that much milk when I was away from Wyatt. I’d run to a tucked away room at school to pump whenever I could — between classes, before lunch, in between meetings — but the more I pumped, the more agitated and frustrated I became. And sore. But I did it every day.
That’s why, when his pediatrician reminded me the other day that, when Wyatt turns 6 months old, I could stop pumping milk at work and just nurse him in the morning and at night, and then have the sitter feed him formula during the rest of the day, I thought about giving up pumping altogether. It would give me more time during the day to work. Right now, I spend about 50 minutes total pumping every day — a full class period. Do you know what I could get done in that time? How many papers I could grade? Errands I could run? Pages I could read? Meetings with students I could fit in?
Just a few weeks ago, I was trying to cram in as many work-related “To Dos” as I could before the day ended. But, the more I tried to do quickly, the less I got done. And I grew agitated. I looked around, trying to figure out what task to jump on next, when I spied my breast pump bag. I thought, “Let me just go pump.” So I jumped up from my desk, grabbed my bag, and retreated to my pumping room.
When I pump, that’s all I can do. No multitasking. No running around. And that’s what I needed in that moment — something to focus on so that I would settle down and attend to one task at a time. My heart stopped racing. My mind eventually stopped spinning, and I was able to sit quietly for a bit. Almost zen-like.
That’s the reason I’ve decided, at least for now, not to stop pumping at work. (Plus, my pump bag is the most organized space in my world — well-stocked, everything in a special place, every day. In this sense, opening it is a little treat, a glimpse into a microscosm of how I’d like, say, my entryway, to be.) Pumping is a good reason for me to pull away from the hectic day and sit and focus on one thing (and I do need such a reason to remind me that it’s necessary to take a break). It gives me a bit of quiet alone time. And it is an appointment — for Wyatt and for myself — that I can’t miss. If I worry too much about what I need to do next, I don’t produce as much milk, and I certainly don’t produce it as quickly. The whole act of pumping requires me to stop, breathe, and relax so that, later, Wyatt’s sitter can feed him when I’m not with him.
I don’t detest pumping now. I don’t want to do it forever. But, for now, in a surprising twist, pumping provides me more and more with the potential for zen moments during jam-packed work days.
And in a couple of days, Wyatt will turn 6 months old. 6 months! A whole different world – sleeping through the night (the majority of the time), holding and dropping toys repeatedly, eating more mushy foods, making great sounds, more coy smiles, kisses, rolling, and attempts at crawling. He’s healthy, strong, happy…and well fed!
Is there something you do during your hectic day that helps you take a little breather in the midst of it all?