Back to work
I’ve just finished my third week back at work so I figured it was time for an update as to how it all went. The good news is that everyone was right – the thought of returning is worse than the reality.
The night before I went back, I was sick to my stomach at the thought of leaving my baby with someone else all day. And I was upset to be losing so much time with my four year old preschooler as well.
But before I knew it, it was 5.45am and the alarm was going off. As luck would have it, the baby had slept really well, not waking for a feed until 5am. But then of course she was still full and didn’t want to feed before I left at 6.45. So I pumped two ounces to send to crèche with her for her breakfast, kissed everyone goodbye, and held back the tears until I got out to the car.
The saving grace for me is that I don’t have to do drop-offs in the morning. That job falls to Charlie, something for which I’m very glad because I don’t think I could have left her that morning.
An hour and fifteen minutes later (how did I forget how horrible the commute is) and I was at work. Two hours later, it was like I had never been away. Thankfully work is really busy so I was able to just throw myself into it and the day passed quickly.
At lunchtime I set aside 15 minutes to express milk for the next day in crèche. I decided to set myself a time limit for pumping rather than a target amount. Otherwise I felt it would be too much pressure and would take up too much of my lunch time.
As the weeks have gone by, I’ve got the pumping down to a fine art. I bring my Kindle with me and read a few pages while I pump. Most days I get 6-8oz in that 15 minute slot. I pop the milk into freezer bags (which are insanely expensive by the way – €9 for 30!!! If anyone knows of cheaper ones let me know.) and store them with ice packs in the fridge. Then I grab them just before I leave work and the milk is still icy cold when I get home and pop it in the freezer.
I thought pumping at work would be awful hassle so I’ve been pleasantly surprised how easy and manageable it is. I wish I had known that before because the thought of returning to work definitely influenced my decision to wean Little Man. I just assumed you had to switch to formula if you were back at work. It never occurred to me it was possible to keep breastfeeding.
Having done both now – formula feeding and breastfeeding a baby while back at work – I can honestly say continuing to breastfeed is by far the easier option for me. And I strongly believe that it has helped Little Woman settle faster at crèche. When I collect her in the evenings she is like a newborn, almost panicked, looking to be fed. So I settle into the armchair with her and feed her, and as I do I feel reconnected and I know she does too. Waves of calm wash over me and I watch her relax. Her breathing slows and she nods off for fifteen or twenty minutes. By the time she wakes she is in great form, the anxiety from earlier in the day forgotten.
And the best part is that on the weekends, we continue to have the same freedom we had while I was on maternity leave, able to go anywhere on a whim, never having to worry about bringing bottles or heating milk, or all the things that I found so inconvenient with her brother.
I’m happy to say that everything else has gone well. After a day or two getting used to spoon feeds, she’s now eating really well in crèche. She drinks most of her milk from a beaker during the day but she’s also started taking one feed from a bottle for them. I’m delighted because I feel there’s more comfort for her from a bottle than from the beaker.
Sleep is the only thing that remains an issue during the day. Nine times out of ten she won’t settle in the cot for them. But she is napping in their arms or in the bouncer for her usual 20 minute power naps. And she’s sleeping well at night again – she was very unsettled for the first week and a half.
So now we’ve one more week until the Christmas break, and although I am enjoying being back at work, I also find myself counting the days until I have time off with my family.