Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Does She Do It?! (Muscular Atrophy Post)

"How does she do it?!" is what no one at all has said about me lately. Seriously, friends. I don't understand this whole life-work balance people speak of so frequently. There have been times in the past where I've really aced it - working out regularly either early morning (kill me now) or after work, riding my bike to yoga on the weekends, cooking dinner, etc. I've never been much of a housekeeper so I won't pretend my house used to be clean. (Hilarious side note: I often tell Henry that prior to his arrival, the apartment was spotless and that we held frequent, lavish dinner parties. He's going to feel soooooo bad when he actually comprehends.) My spurts of activity were typically followed by periods of a switch to a more sedentary lifestyle brought on by the disruption of a cold, vacation, or general sloth. I have been a lump basically since my first trimester. I kept thinking I'd get back into yoga on maternity leave. Fail. My free time at work is not free at all as I'm hooked into a hospital grade breastmilk pump. No lunch-time walks or quick trips to the grocery store.

Since H was born, I've kept up on reading. It feels like a necessary escape. 15-20 minutes each night before bed does the trick. This week I picked up knitting again. I'm working on a Christmas stocking for my niece. After H goes to sleep and after dinner, I knit for about an hour while I watch tv. Dishes and bottles can wait. It feels great to do something crafty and creative again. Cleaning the house happens in small bursts between J and me. I'm not terribly stressed about it and can accept the inevitable clutter for the time being. Instacart is serving my grocery needs. But after 13 months or so (that was painful to type), I am jumping out of my skin to get back to yoga. Really anything physical but ideally yoga. I miss my teachers, the way it makes my head and body feel and, yes, the way it makes me look. I'm so vain, I probably think this song is about me. 

Please, friends, help me fit it in. Here's what my weekdays look like:
• Between 5:30 and 6 Henry wakes up and I try to force him back to sleep by sticking a boob in it. Justified as breakfast. 37 certified sleep trainers just jumped out a window.
• 6:30 - Drag sorry ass out of bed, drink coffee while getting ready. J or I talk to Henry as he plays in his bouncy chair and we scramble around the apt. Dogs are walked, bottles and frozen milk ready for daycare.
• 7:30 - Either leave for work or bring H to daycare, then work.
• 10 - Pump. Contemplate formula.
• 1 - Pump. Contemplate formula.
• 4 - Pump. Contemplate formula.
• Between 5 and 5:30 - Home or daycare pickup.
• 6 - 7 - Play with Henry.
• 7 - 8 - Bath and bedtime.
• 8 - Eat pasta/takeout/leftovers/cereal.
I know this is a normal schedule for a working mom but I'm not used to it yet. It makes me feel all panicky and exhausted. There is not enough time. Not enough time. Not enough time. To think that I used to complain about my busy days while sipping a glass of wine, petting the dogs, painting my toes, etc.

So. Physical fitness. I don't want to give up my 2 evening hours with Henry. I do have the weekends. I could work with that. But what's the weekday solution? Maybe there isn't one right now. Maybe I just enjoy my little guy and embrace the fact that sweater season will soon be here. Another point to consider: Oprah has arm flaps so why can't I? J is encouraging me to go to my old favorite yoga class on Wednesday evenings. I would get home at 7:30 just in time to feed him before bed. (Yup, nursing right before bed. 16 more certified sleep trainers just leaped to their deaths.) I could give it a whirl and see how it feels. Blah. Someone give me money and let me work part time. Thank you.

P.S. I am whining about problems that I would  have killed for a year ago. Slap me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

17 Weeks - Working Topless.

Oh, hi there, friends! Ever so sorry that I haven't been blogging much lately. Well, what with my baking, sewing, macrame, dog obedience competitions, baby-raising and working full time, I've barely had time to squeeze in my daily workout let alone a blog post! Let me just shake the crumbs from my floral skirt and sit at my keyboard (tap at my iphone in bed). There, that's better.

I have been back at work now for over a MONTH. When I'm at the office, it often feels like business as usual. Not much has changed in the daily minutiae of work. Sure, I stop what I'm doing three times a day to sit in a file room, topless and hooked to a double electric breast pump, while I will greater quantities of milk to drip into little plastic bottles strapped to my chest. Nudity in the workplace will never feel normal but it will always feel extra chilly. Pumping aside (and it never is, wait for the rant), work feels like work. And that's good. The first day was complete torture. I just felt eviscerated. Gummy pieces of heart littered across the 7 miles from my apartment to the office. I spent the day feeling very put-upon, like the first woman ever to go back to work after having a baby. Un peu dramatic. Fortunately, that was just the first day. Every day since has felt more and more normal. I don't enjoy the chaos of the mornings or the fact that I only have a few waking hours with my little guy in the evenings, but I savor what I do have. Maybe I'll win the lottery soon and won't have to work or will be able to work less. Until then, J and I are trading off daycare pickup and drop off responsibilities, going broke by calling in take out orders because the grocery store is an entire 4 blocks away (yes, I've heard of Peapod. the effort...), and loving the poop out of our baby boy. Our weekends are more appreciated than ever. But still no grocery shopping.

I feel I absolutely must write about pumping. Henry was kind of a breastfeeding genius from the get go. While we had a few latch issues here and there and a clogged duct or two (I ooze glamour), feeding my kid during maternity leave was pretty easy peasy. He was hungry, I had boobs, my boobs had milk. A lot of women have it way tougher than that with under-supply, mastitis, cracked nipples, all sorts of boob-hell. Starting at about 6 weeks post partum I started pumping once a day to build up my stash for returning to work. While pumping was kind of a chore, it felt like a necessary not-so-evil. I wasn't winning any awards for my pumping output but I didn't really think much of it. Then I went back to work and my daily leisure pumps (always done while watching Bravo - you know, to boost my supply) became thrice daily grinds in a cold file room. I was all of a sudden struggling to pump enough and my boobs started aching. I could feel clogs forming. I went from 15 minutes on the pump to 20 plus 5 minutes of hand expressing, ie. milking myself like a goat. Big thanks to The Farm in Door County, Wisconsin for teaching me proper milking technique. Milking oneself is shockingly similar to milking a goat. 5 more minutes of cleanup and milk storage and I'd spent 30 minutes away from my desk. An hour and a half a day where I really struggled to work - invoice review, phone calls - and pump. Feeling as though I was begging for a nasty bout of mastitis, I called a lactation consultant. During our phone consult, she determined that I was a "poor responder" to pumping. My baby sucks that milk out like a champ; the pump, not so much. Leftover milk was sitting there all day, sticking in my ducts and causing horribly painful spasms. Oh, the glamour. 

Semi-solution: a hospital grade pump. I got a prescription for this bowling ball bag sized contraption and I keep it in the file room for all my coworkers to admire. "Jealous much?" I ask. Yes, yes they are. The upside of the turbo milk machine is that I pump more effectively during my morning pump when the old storage facilities on my chest are rather full. It's easier to get closer to some semblance of "empty." I still need to hand express at times. Plus, I don't want my 4-H skills to get rusty. I will win that blue ribbon for livestock management, by God! Another plus to Big Bertha is that it feels a lot less like its ripping off my nipples. So that's a win. Pump time hasn't really gone down but I'm more comfortable and better at keeping up with Henry's intake at daycare. Another huge help from the lactation consultant - I feel certain that you have either stopped reading already and/or have spontaneously become lactose intolerant - take Lethicin supplements to prevent clogged ducts. It really, really worked. I started taking them a week before Big Bertha hit the scene and pain be gone. Why are you still reading.

If I ever really figure this whole corporate pumping thing out, I'm going to write a book or perhaps a pamphlet (let's be realistic) entitled "Pumping at Work: Why It Doesn't Have to be a Let Down." Ha! Anyone else with me on the breastmilk jokes?