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Feb 4 2014

I Don’t Feel Guilty About Going Back to Work

By at 11:13 am

woman and man carrying briefcases

There is almost nothing more beautiful than my baby when she’s sleeping. She raises her hands above her head like she’s celebrating a Patriots touchdown and gets a dreamy look on her tiny, gorgeous face. When she’s awake, she gives me an amazing smile if I beep her nose or stroke her chin.

This time tomorrow, I won’t be sitting midday and nursing her as long as she wants. I won’t be rubbing her little tummy. I’ll be back at work–voluntarily.

I’m the sort of woman who leans in. During my eight-week maternity leave, I dropped in to work with the baby four or five times for one reason or another. On Monday, a co-worker said to me about my impending return to work, “Isn’t it so hard for you to leave her? It was always so hard for me to leave my kids.”

The answer to her question is no, and I won’t feel guilty about it. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2013

No More Screaming at the Breast Pump for Me

By at 10:10 am

breast pumpOne of the things I’m most proud of as a mother is nursing my older son for a year. And now one of the other things I am most proud of is weaning my younger son at 6 months.

Nursing my older son Ari wasn’t easy. Like many moms, it took weeks to find our groove. Just as I was getting the hang of things, I had to head back to work when Ari turned 3 months old. From there my love-hate relationship with my breast pump began.

Due to my son’s (amazing) sleep schedule and my work schedule, I would often go days at a time with only one nursing, if even that. It was just me and the pump. At some point, my pumping became only about the milk and not the feeding of my son. I was constantly worried if I was making enough milk. Was there a deep supply in the freezer? Would I have to give him what I thought was a dreaded bottle of formula? I was pretty miserable breastfeeding. I distinctly remember hating nearly every minute of it, but I persisted. I didn’t think I had any other choice.

I swore with my next child that I wouldn’t be all consumed by the milk. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 10 2012

Why Was Breast Milk Banned from an Israeli Maternity Ward Fridge?

By at 4:43 pm

locked refigeratorIt all started with a note taped to a refrigerator. Not just any fridge; this was the staff refrigerator in a hospital maternity ward in Jerusalem. The nurse, who discovered the note, was placing her pumped breast milk therein when she noticed it. “To Whom It May Concern,” read the politely worded note with a less than polite message, “Please do not store breast milk in this refrigerator. The Staff.”

Back just a few days from her maternity leave, as the only nursing mother on staff, the letter may as well have been addressed to her. Shocked, she complained up the chain of command all the way to upper management. She was told that each ward is its own democracy and can decide independently if it wants to allow breast milk to be placed in its own staff refrigerators. Unable to be a part of a “democracy” that could make such decisions, the nurse resigned. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 20 2011

UN Day 2: The Sadomasochistic Juicer

By at 4:30 pm

It’s Monday morning, and I have a phone interview with the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations scheduled in five minutes. This should be a fascinating opportunity to get into the head of the person at the center of the maelstrom. The ambassador has only been on the job a few months, but has effectively been thrown in the deep end of the pool with Friday’s prospective showdown on Palestinian statehood. He’s a good person and I genuinely enjoy talking with him, and look forward to the interview.

It’s also coming up on time to pump my breasts, I can tell.  I decide to wait to do it until after he calls. My breastpump works splendidly, but when it does, it is accompanied by an unmistakable loud sucking sound that sounds like words depending on the speed of the pumping. Sometimes, the breastpump says, “Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort.” Sometimes it says “Crapper. Crapper. Crapper.” Unless the breastpump has any insights to offer into the Middle East peace process, I decide, I really don’t need it squeezing my breasts like a psychotic, sadomasochistic juicer gone rogue in the background over the phone.

On an intellectual level, I know that breastfeeding is best for my now-two-month-old baby. But on a selfish, “What about me?” level, I will say that it can be pretty goddamn irritating.

I realize we mothers aren’t supposed to say stuff like that. We’re supposed to say that we love bonding with our babies, that young cherub-like mouth at our breasts, and knowing that we are doing something wonderful for their development. That’s nice. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 22 2011

The Story of 10 Women Pumping Milk Together

By at 9:59 am

Maggie Ball in the AJWS Lactation Room--check out those cute baby photos!

Here’s the story of 10 lactating mamas who turned an office into a shared pumping area. (You can imagine that it would get quite cozy.) The women work at American Jewish World Service and they put together their story for a contest for World Breastfeeding Week sponsored by Health Connect One.

We are the “Milk Mamas” of AJWS, 10 women (that’s 10% of our staff!) who are deeply grateful for the love and support we have received over the last year after being thrown together in our office’s lactation room. There is NO private pumping time in our lactation room. Therefore, we consider ourselves more than lucky to have accidentally formed the most wonderful new moms’ group.

Our Lactation Room

We meet there in twos and threes throughout the day to express milk, problem-solve the challenges of motherhood, and joke about the constant foibles of being a nursing mother in the workplace. Despite struggles with supply, thrush, mastitis, and travels (and pumping!) around the world, many of our children are approaching their first birthday and we are all still pumping. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but in our experience, it takes a pumping room full of thoughtful, encouraging and hilarious moms to get a working mama through the first year without losing her sanity!

Our lactation room consists of four chairs, two computers, a mini fridge, hand sanitizer, adorable pictures of all the babies, a notebook where we can ask each other questions and provide notes of encouragement. We think our stories below should be called “Oh, the Places We’ve Pumped,” because as every working mom knows, there is no breastfeeding without pumping.

In Turkey, They Wanted My Pump
I was in Turkey for my first work trip away from my almost 1-year-old daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

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