Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pumping Struggles

Within the last week I asked a few friends to give me a kick in the pants to keep pumping breast milk at work because I was growing extremely weary of doing it.** My supply had started to slip and I was just sick of sitting in there for 20 minutes at a time 3 times a day. They gave me several great suggestions and lots of back patting and cheerleading and so I continued on and things have gotten marginally better this week. But the real motivation to keep going came today from an unlikely source.

**I don't want to quit breastfeeding yet, especially right at the beginning of winter when she could really use the immunities it gives her throughout this sickly season coming up. But the pumping part I was ready to give up on. With Charley I quit pumping at 6 months and just breastfed while I was with her from months 6-10, so I was just envisioning the same freedom from the pump during a moment of weakness.

I briefly mentioned some of the struggles with getting a room to use at my place of employment here. Apparently I'm the only one that's ever needed a place to pump which is a sad tale on its own but that's a story for another day. While walking around with HR when pregnant, we only found ONE option to use and so that was that. It is an office that was vacant at the time so timing worked out perfectly. I've been using that office for the 2.5 months since I've been back at work. It is really no secret what I'm doing in there after this little incident and just because people aren't dumb. So, for 20 LONG minutes three times a day I'm locked up in there trying to keep up with my little chunky monster's needs.

A couple weeks ago my boss asked me in person how much longer I'd need the office because they were trying to plan when they could put someone else in there. I was definitely taken aback by the question and blushed as I stumbled through my answer. I told him I only pumped with Charley until she was 6 months old, but I really didn't know how long Laney would need it. He seemed satisfied with that answer and said he'd tell "them" a few more months at the very least. I moved on from that. Sure, it made me feel a little rushed and a little uncomfortable and a little pressure but I got over it.

Then last week I get a call from the receptionist that a few people needed a room to have a meeting in and that both conference rooms were taken so they were going to use "my" office for about an hour. They didn't even ASK me and they sent someone else to TELL me what was going on. They have no idea what my schedule is or if I'd need the office during the time they had already reserved it for. They just marched in and set their laptops down and I then rushed in to wipe the desk down for them as a courtesy and to freaking move my pump out and put it somewhere else. I was VERY irritated with this scenario too, but again, got over it. Luckily they were going to be out of there by the next time I needed the space. But I did want to rip their paper off of the door that read "OFFICE RESERVED FOR THE NEXT HOUR" and stomp it into the ground. I mean, to whom was the sign for? I am the only user of the office so I guess that was the plan until they saw my stuff in there. "Just stick a sign on the door! That will help us avoid a potentially uncomfortable conversation!"

Today I get an email from my boss that asked the exact same thing he asked me in person two weeks ago. I don't know if he forgot that he'd already asked me or if he got additional pressure to get a better answer from whomever is needing this office but it really set me on a path of rage. I couldn't believe I was being asked this again such a short time after I was asked the first time.

With an email, at least I didn't have to struggle through my response in front of him. I got time to IMMEDIATELY GET UP AND WALK TO HR TO VENT ABOUT IT FIRST. I am furious. As if pumping to keep up with your child's demands isn't enough pressure as it is (albeit that's just pressure from myself) this added a whole new layer. HR agreed that this was completely inappropriate and were typing emails before I even left the office. I don't care WHERE they put me. They just have to provide a space for me to use and that's that.

See the thing is I'm not even that type of person that would attend nurse-ins or feel compelled to nurse in front of people just to try and normalize breastfeeding at all. I do wish it was way more normalized, but I'm not the pushy type and pushing the agenda through those avenues is just not for me at all. (Let's be real - my avenue is to type it all up and hide behind a computer!) But this has me all up in arms. I'm not asking a lot at all, and it should be a complete non-issue. It's a private place and I'm not bothering anyone by doing it. I shouldn't have to give timelines to anyone. I cannot believe the resistance I'm feeling about it.

Which brings me back to my original point. Last week I was dreaming about the end of pumping and even just yesterday was complaining about carrying the crap around that pumping requires. And now? NOW I feel compelled to keep going strong out of pure spite. I don't care if it is in the office I'm using now or if they find another spot for me to use. I feel like pumping until she's in Kindergarten right now. (Okay a bit of exaggeration because I don't plan on going any longer than 1 year, but it just FEELS that way right now.)


Alicia said...

This makes me so angry!!! Aghhhhh. Good for you. Don't give up the fight. Really I think people are just so uneducated as to what it takes to make breastfeeding work for a working mother.

Alicia said...

But damn it it sucks to have to be the one to educate them.

Jodi said...

Good for you!! You probably know my take on nursing/pumping... so I love to hear when people persevere! Your company/boss really makes me mad for putting you in that situation... although it's sadly not unusual. I have an employee that is pumping right now and I get SO many complaints about her slacking, not pulling her weight, etc. because she is pumping! Seriously... b/c doesn't everyone want a break from work to sit and pump for 20 minutes...grrr!!!

Jessica said...

Ohhhh yes. I've never been the strong type, but since I traveled a lot for work I had to deal over and over with finding a place to pump. Especially by the time I got to my second child I was awesome at just marching up to whomever was in charge of the office and being quite firm about my need for pumping space. I wasn't unreasonable - if it was a teeny place and I was only going to be there for a few days I made the bathroom work - but I made sure they always knew what I was doing and often made a sign for the door.

I love how you're pushing back!

Heather said...

Ugh! So sorry you're dealing with this extra stress at work. As if nursing and pumping isn't stress enough! I'm always surprised how uneducated people - especially employers - are on pumping in the workplace. It's like, if they've never personally experienced pumping in a bathroom stall or a public space before, they have no understanding or support on the topic. I'll never forget having to pump in a dirty storage area behind a divided wall where my co-workers were sitting (and listening!) to me on the other side. I should've stood up for myself back then, but I honestly wasn't as educated as I should've been on my rights as a working mom. Good for you for holding your ground!

Laura Diniwilk said...

I just read this and I am LIVID. Print out a copy of the affordable care act and post it over their stupid sign!!!

The Affordable Care Act also mandates that employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. Employers that employ fewer than 50 employees must prove an undue hardship from complying with the law in order to be exempt from this law. They are not automatically exempted. Furthermore, these requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.