Mothers’ work >>> Fathers’ work

This week is Salesforce’s biggest conference of the year, Dreamforce, so Chris will be away until Friday in San Francisco for that. In the meantime, it will just be the nanny and I looking after Kaia, so I’ll be responsible for feeding her in the morning as well as right before bedtime. Given that I usually pump at 6pm now for my third pump once the nanny leaves, I figured I’d push that pump up to around 4-4:30 so that my evening hours with Kaia would be pump-free, which would allow more quality time with her (and no fear of spilling milk everywhere).

Thinking about balancing pumping and feeding her was really rough in the first twelve weeks. It’s why I was annoyed when Chris said he’d go back to work after 7 weeks of leave… even though he had 26 weeks of family leave in total. The frustration of balancing that also led to him going back on leave after about three weeks back at work. In that time, Kaia also was eating inconsistently and sometimes would like to “snack” on her bottle, eating a little here and there, and when you are also pumping, that snacking can really drive you up the wall, especially if you are the only person looking after her. Granted, she was a newborn, so it was hard to be mad at her, but it was still frustrating nonetheless. A newborn or any baby has no idea that when you are pumping, you are trying to give them milk to survive; they just know that they want what they want — when they want it.

But while thinking about feeding her each morning before I pump, I thought even more about how much harder mothers’ lives are than men’s, particularly in the baby stage of a child’s life. If I had, for example, had a week-long work trip, Chris’s life wouldn’t really change that much: he’d still be bottle feeding her, changing her, and putting her to sleep. He wouldn’t have to feed AND pump the way I do. If I were away, I’d still have to pump four times a day at this stage, and then I’d have the stress of figuring out how to store and cart all the milk back (I get a milk shipment perk through work when I do business travel, but I’ve never frozen milk before. And I’m not sure if I have high lipase milk, which means that the milk could take an “off” flavor after being frozen, resulting in baby rejecting it.. and I’m a little scared to try it because I hate even the idea of tossing milk down the drain). Because of this, during this period, I really have zero desire to travel for work at all without the baby being with me. I think about all the moms who have written in pumping groups about how when they gave up pumping and switched to exclusive formula feeding, they felt so liberated and like they finally had quality time with their babies. And given the balancing act, I get what they mean and why they made their decision. At the same time, I still feel excited and proud of myself when I see a lot of breast milk bottles on the top left hand shelf of our fridge. My boobs have done good.

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