in which i have a go at being a pumping mum
In some bizarre wave of enthusiasm I thought it would be a great idea to extend our already generous 54 weeks of parental leave by working for a few weeks this summer while Scott took care of Jessica. Poor Scott; I forgot that while I’d tied up most of my work obligations, he’s in the middle of a pile of them, such as preparing for the coming semester’s teaching and organising the September electronic literature conference he’s chairing. And as you academics know, just because you’re “on vacation” doesn’t mean you can stop working. So Scott’s “vacation” involves working afternoons, and this week I’m sitting here in the office finishing revisions to a long overdue paper (sorry Lisbeth and Jeremy, I promise you’ll have it very soon!) – and pumping breastmilk. I’m lucky enough that my sister lent me her double electric breastpump – the pump-in-style (great name, eh?) that she used with her kids, and I must say, it’s a different world from the cheap hand pump I used last time round. This thing rocks – I can read blogs while I’m using it and I produce far more milk than with that nasty hand thing. But I’ve got to admit, one day in I’d decided that pumping at the office is a total nuisance. I kind of like the achievement of seeing all that milk (you never see it when you’re breastfeeding) but the coolness of the new gadget (yes, I had that geeky gadget-love for it at first!) wears off pretty fast once you’re rinsing the “horns” in the sink in the hallway and trying not to drop the membranes down the drain. And heck, I have my own office to pump in – many mothers have to use their car, or sit in a toilet booth. Ladies, you have my whole-hearted admiration! I love nursing Jessica, but I don’t know how long I’d stick this pumping business out.
Just a very short time of this back-to-work business has made me very appreciative of my long parental leave – and of Scott, who says Jessica barely notices I’m gone so long as he has enough milk for her (oh no! I’m expendable!) – and of being employed by the state, which gives me two hours paid leave a day since I’m nursing, so I’m working a very pleasant 5 1/2 hour work day. And of course, the work of an academic is highly flexible, especially in summer time. And we’ll be very happy to have ten extra weeks of leave next year before we have to start thinking about day care for Jessica. But oh dear, I’d far rather be with my baby. And I think next time round (because oh yes, another baby would be wonderful, in a while, if we can) we’ll not be doing this…
I wonder whether I’ll need to pump at work when I go back in January and Scott takes his semester’s parental leave. Jessica will be eight months old and I’m sure I’ll still be nursing her – but she’ll be eating solids too and I imagine I’ll be nursing less frequently. I sort of hope I can get by without pumping at the office, with those nice 5 1/2 hour days so I can run home and nurse her instead (yay again for nursing leave!) but I suppose I’ll deal with it if I have to. Does it get easier with time do you suppose?