Mommy survived her first week back at work, and Daddy survived his first week with WZW 24/7! High fives all around! Turns out December was a good time for me to head back to work, since the patient load was more manageable. Sure, I had some busy days that were just like old times, but it wasn’t every day.
I’m lucky that my work has given me one less patient each morning and afternoon so that I have time to pump. I realized that it’s easier to have an entire pump and supplies at work so that I don’t have to worry about taking things back and forth from home. Which means no risk of forgetting things at home. So I have a second pump and accessories, drying rack, dish soap, dish sponge & brushes, and breast milk storage bags. I’ll discuss my choice of pumps in my next post.
It’s a little tough during a busy day to squeeze in the pumping, but it’s not terrible. The issue is that due to time constraints I will sometimes just pump for 10 minutes instead of 15 or 20 when I have more time. I’ve already noticed that due to the pumping instead of breastfeeding, my supply is decreasing.
The challenge more so is that WZW is still not on a regular feeding schedule. It would be great if I could feed him in the morning before I leave, but that doesn’t always happen. And at night, the challenge is that I want to breastfeed to keep my supply going, but I also need enough sleep to function at work. I don’t exactly have the kind of job where I can half-ass it. So I’m improvising as I go, trying to breastfeed in the evenings and in the morning when timing works out. In the middle of the night, if I wake up with my breasts feeling full and uncomfortable, I’ll get up and pump. Last night, I went to bed early, then had my husband wake me when it was time to feed him, and then went back to bed.
I also don’t want to go too long between feedings/pumping and get mastitis again. I started noticing a little redness, and thought NO!! Not again! So I breastfed that night instead of pumping and thank goodness it went away.
Since I still have a similar routine at work, it’s easy to notice differences like how much hungrier I am now. I made the mistake of not snacking during my pumping session one afternoon, and I started feeling really hypoglycemic later in the middle of seeing a patient. Now I never skip a snack.
Even then, I’m still hungry all the time. Case in point- the other day, I had a normal-sized lunch. Then I had some Paleo bread as a snack during my pumping session. Even then, I was still hungry and ended up eating a Kind bar before my last patient. Then a second bar as I was finishing up charting. On my drive home, I was STILL hungry so I ate a bag of plantain chips. I breastfed as soon as I got home, and then I proceeded to scarf down a full dinner at 7 pm.
I’m also thirsty all the time. One of the lactation consultants told me while I was still in the hospital to drink lots of water. She herself noticed a difference in her milk supply on days she was busy and didn’t drink as much. Well that hasn’t been a problem. Unlike during pregnancy when regular water was often unpalatable, now I feel like I have an unquenchable thirst. I am constantly drinking water.
During the pumping or breastfeeding itself, I have a weird drained sensation that makes me feel like I need to drink water and snack. So much for trying to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. You’d think with all the extra calories burned by breastfeeding that it would be like the equivalent of working out daily (which I don’t have the energy nor time for these days). But since I’m so hungry, I end up eating enough to make up for it and then some. Hence I’ve remained stable at about 10 lbs. over my pre-pregnancy weight. I wonder if my body wants me to be in that range right now, given how hungry I am all the time.
Everyone asks if I miss my son. Of course I do, but as I suspected it hasn’t been extremely hard for me emotionally. One of my coworkers once told me she looked forward to coming back to work after maternity leave. She got tired of the baby care. While I can’t say I’m at that extreme, I do relate. The 24/7 baby care is really tiring and repetitive. In contrast, I now get more sleep than I used to and I’m back into my old routine.
I have to say that it’s gratifying to realize that I enjoy my job. Even though we’d all rather spend time with our kids than be at work, it’s rewarding to see familiar patients again, and help new patients. It’s great to have a job that I find fulfilling, where I don’t dread being at, and away from my son. Sure, I have busy days that stress me out and make me hate life in that moment, but it took being on maternity leave to confirm that I’m still very happy with my career choice.
Having my husband at home also makes it easy since I have zero worry about WZW’s care. When he goes back to work, we’ll have a nanny two days per week. We had a trial session this week with her, and as we suspected, WZW had major “stranger danger.” He had done it over Thanksgiving at my parents’ place. Even though he was fine two days before, on Thanksgiving he suddenly cried when anyone besides me and my husband held him.
Our poor nanny did well handling his incessant crying upon being with her. Eventually he calmed down. As tough as it is when he gets so upset, there is also an element of relief for me and my husband. It’s reassuring to see that WZW does differentiate us from others; that we’re not just his servants who feed him and provide warm comforting bodies.
And now, back to my weekend. Nowadays, they won’t be as restful- gonna breastfeed all weekend to try to keep my milk supply going.