For the last 2 months, I've had a schedule that cycled between feeding Jackson, napping, and wandering around the house--baby attached. Sure, I managed to squeeze a few other things into that busy routine, but that was the bulk of it. Last Thursday, I had a jolt to the system when I returned to work. The new schedule goes something like this: 2:30 wake up and feed Jackson, 5:30 there's a race between Jackson and the alarm to see who can wake me up, try to feed Jackson who is too sleepy to eat much so I still have to pump before work. 7:30 get to work, work, hope I can make it through the 10am meeting without sleeping too obviously. 11:00 pump milk, hope I can get by with just 1 session at work. 11:30 Work some more. 4:30 rush out of work to get home in time for Jason to leave and hopefully in time to feed Jackson instead of pumping again 5:30 say goodbye to Jason and pump again. Wander around the house with baby attached. 10:30 feed Jackson. 11:30 go to sleep and prepare to repeat. I've always felt the 8 hour work day was too long, and that sentiment has been reinforced. I am so very tired!
Here are the positives--It's kind of nice to have hands free and be able to do something/anything. I have very supportive coworkers. My boss is committed to helping me make this work, leave on time, avoid travel, work from home. (No, I don't think its career sabotage. He's also getting me visibility within the company.) My coworkers were excited to see me return. Granted some of their excitement was selfishness to speed the programs along or right sinking ships...but mostly it was sincere welcoming. There were even hugs! I also heard that someone would ask several times everyday when I was coming back.
I am also pleasantly surprised by the lactation room. I've seen a cubicle partition in the bathroom in another building, so my expectations were low. In my building, there's a little out of the way conference room. It is equipped with the following: locking door, fridge, sink, small sofa, desk, 3 chairs, blanket, convenient outlet, storage cabinets, wipes, breast pads, baby related reading material, and a community journal for the rooms occupants to communicate issues and tips. This is much more than I was expecting from my conservative and overwhelmingly male corporation. Maybe someday they'll cave and offer that onsite, subsidized daycare we keep asking for...
A few days after I returned, another person came back to work. He was serving a 6 week mission in Zimbabwe (Welcome back John!). My boss speaks of us both as having life changing experiences. I don't want to imply that my experience as a new mother in a cozy American house with heat, refrigeration, and water, plus access to large quantities of clean clothing is anything at all like the hardships in a developing nation. However, I couldn't help observing a few similarities. For both of us, life was moving at a much slower pace. In Zimbabwe, the people walk everywhere. It was 2 miles to the store. John said that after you returned with groceries, you'd really felt like you'd accomplished something. I felt the same way about the 1/4 mile walk to the mailbox. In Zimbabwe, John didn't have an oven, and due to the frequent power outages it was difficult to cook. PB&J was a life saver. I also have great difficulty cooking and rely on smoothies, granola bars, and frozen meals. In Zimbabwe there's a water shortage, so sponge baths are the norm and a shower comes with overwhelming emotions of gratitude and relief--I feel the same way.
It's cliche to speak of having children requiring sacrifice. It does. But I am grateful to be going through it here where the sacrifices are tempered by an overabundance of equipment, cleanliness, controlled environments, and support. I'm also grateful just to be going through it.