A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

17 More Days

By Jenny Manos

Jenny Manos pumping at work

17 more days.
17 more days until I reach my goal of nursing my second child for an entire year.
13 more days of pumping at work.
I pumped because I couldn’t afford to stay home the whole time I was nursing.
Not that I think I’d be a fabulous stay at home mom anyway. I just really hate pumping and probably would’ve stayed home the whole time to avoid it.
I could breastfeed my two babies for two years because I have a lot of help and privilege.
My mom has watched my children every day that I work.
I have a job in which I have an office and a sometimes flexible daily schedule in which I can usually stop to pump–sometimes I can’t and I pay the price.
I have a lot of help and am so luck to have been able to do this.
But I am also badass for doing this as long as I have for both kids.
And also totally alone during both these years of my life.
There was a lot of pressure–mostly from myself, but in other ways too.
My daughter wouldn’t take formula when she was a month old: I was in charge of all her food from that moment on.
My mom was supportive, but also couldn’t nurse me when I was a baby, so she didn’t have experience informing her.
My first baby struggled when I was at work her first year. Probably to calm, she would consume 21 ounces while I was at work at 3 months old. I could pump maybe 12 on a good day during that same time.
I was on the pump around the clock to keep up, giving up precious sleep and relaxation.
I had the constant sensation of running on empty and didn’t know when I’d fill up.
I know what a lot of people’s brains think about pumping moms. I’ve heard the tone when they aren’t talking about me. I’ve mindlessly felt the belief before it was me.
Iit’s an unconscious societal beliefs we repeat without examination or empathy first.
“She needs special treatment because she’s pumping.”
“Wish I could go in a room by myself and close the door for twenty minutes.”
You don’t.
This may not be everyone’s experience: having something vacuum suctioning my nipples a few inches from my body thirty times a minute is not only uncomfortable. It hurts.
Exposing my breasts while at work just being in the building, even behind a closed door, while they are being vacuum suctioned a few inches away from my body at a fast pace is an extremely vulnerable position to be in. (In constant terror that someone will walk in–it did happen once.)
At work. With voices right outside my door.
Voices that I know are annoyed that they cannot talk to me right at that moment.
Sometimes they just call me on the phone. Sometimes they make decisions without me. Sometimes they talk about things they wouldn’t talk about with me.
With my first child, I was surrounded with men. Men who were chivalrously understanding about my pumping. Men who would be in meetings with closed doors without me for hours, even though they had the same job as me.
Men who didn’t accomplish the amount of tasks I did even with the time spent pumping behind a closed door.
And I’m in a female-dominated field. (Although the leadership is predominately male.)
Of course, I didn’t really take the time out from working to pump. I pumped for fifteen minutes twice a day, replacing my half hour lunch. Because with my first, I thought that was fair.
I worked while I pumped, usually making calls or doing computer or paperwork. I always eat my lunch while pumping and working.
I felt guilty on the days I had to pump a third time and take time that was not from my lunch.
Even though I was working. Behind a closed door.
Having my nipples vacuum suctioned, exposed to the world if anyone were to walk in the door, while knowing I am inconveniencing many, sets me on edge.
I barely breathe.
I suck my belly in tight.
The thought of inconveniencing others makes me so uncomfortable, every muscle in my body is spiking in pain from being held in tension.
Sometimes, I notice and relax.
Especially with the second child.
Societal beliefs have a come a long way in the five years between my first and second.

I relied heavily on my girlfriends for knowledge the first time around.
I learned quickly which friends would text me back at 4 am.
It’s an alarming number of women that are awake at 4 am.
Close and distant friends. Friends of friends.
With my first, they taught me to pump as soon as I woke up to get the most amount of milk.
This did not work with my second, who still hasn’t slept through the night.
It’s these women that I learned to lay freezer bags on their side to freeze first, then you can stand them up to store so they don’t break as much.
I needed these women.
But I also became distant from many of them at the same time.
For two years of my life.
Especially the second year, as I didn’t need to reach out for help as much.
I couldn’t go to lunch because I was using the time to pump instead. Maybe with my second, I wouldn’t have felt guilty about eating lunch and pumping (while working), but I was struggling to get work done without stopping for lunch, or having crises pop up during lunch. And in my job, it can be life or death, so I have no choice often.
Not being at lunch, I’d be forgotten about to get invited to a few things. Lunches out. Parties. Some big things.
Maybe they thought I was distancing myself.
Nope, just pumping, then rushing home the moment I can to feed that baby and not use another bottle.
How quickly I seemed to not notice this when it was other new moms and not me.
These women who were so important in my life–who helped me, but who also forgot me, being humans, being moms themselves, all of us too busy in life to notice unless someone is crying for help.
But you’re not supposed to cry out for help. It’s weak.
Now that I’m nearing the end, I’m excited for the freedom of having my own body again, but grieving the special breastfeeding time–and time of my life–with babies.

Jenny works in schools and is passionate about all children, public education, and after becoming a mama, she  is also passionate about mindfulness, awareness and spirituality to be a better parent and to be happier and healthier.  She is jennymanos on Instagram.