Let’s Talk About that First Year

I read an article that a girlfriend posted on Facebook the other day from Scary Mommy. It’s about how hard it is to work and pump. As I read through that article, my head nodding up and down at each paragraph, I was reminded of the three months that I worked and pumped.

The article rang true for me. In addition to the woes of the working/pumping mother, my supply dropped with all the pumping. Like a woman obsessed, I would consume lactation bars, schedule a cluster pump session in my office, with the door closed (that’s an hour long session of pumping, where you pump on and off for ten minutes), aggressively track my ounce progress against my baby’s consumption at daycare and lose quality time in the lactation room at work when my office mate was in.

Put bluntly: breastfeeding your baby simply works best if you are at home with your baby. Pumping and working is a massive amount of work and only gets you so far. I wasn’t even back at work for a month before we worked through my freezer packs and were adding in formula.

But breastfeeding is only one part of the equation.

During that first year, there are so many changes. You’re learning how to be a parent. Your sleep is never predictable…even if your baby sleeps through the night early (as ours did), they’ll still go through growth spurts and need to eat during the night, teething episodes and so forth. Children grow and change quickly and that first year is a chaotic whirlwind. I remember even at one point in time where the little guy was changing dramatically each week.

So what does a working mother need?

A working mother needs grace, time and a little space.

It’s true that I was ready to go back to work at 10 weeks. But my body wasn’t quite ready as indicated with my struggle to boost my supply enough. Moreover, I ended up burning substantial amounts of PTO (paid time off) either due to my baby experiencing that initial battery of daycare crud which boosted his immunity or because he had a rough night and I got zero sleep, or because I couldn’t get out of bed because the postpartum depression was so bad.

What I really needed was the following:

  • 24 weeks 100% paid maternity leave
  • An extra 4 weeks of PTO to use during the first 12 weeks postpartum
  • 2 weeks of caregiver leave (leave to care for a baby or family member) for the first 12 months postpartum

That type of arrangement would have allowed me to recover properly from the birth, given me the opportunity to stay home with my baby for the first six months to feed, care for the baby and adjust to the initial hurdles of having a baby. Moreover it would have given me grace and time to confront and deal with my postpartum depression. It also wouldn’t have drained all my PTO when my baby got sick. It would have reduced my stress level of worrying about missing too much work or trying to juggle who was going to stay home between my husband, myself and my baby’s grandparents.

Companies can’t provide those types of benefits all by themselves.

So yes, we can sit here and talk about the cost to businesses of this plan and blah blah blah. But that’s awfully uninventive isn’t it? Aren’t we a nation that prides ourselves on innovation? Since when do we rest with just saying, “Eh this is too hard. We can’t figure it out”. Couldn’t we supplement this type of leave with a state or federally sponsored maternity insurance?

At the end of the day we must remember: having a baby is a significant event. It’s not something you do every day. In the 45 years that I will be a productive working member of society, if I got my entire plan – we’re talking about taking 30 weeks off. That’s 30 weeks out of 2,340 weeks that I will work in my entire life. That’s 1.28% of my entire career. Granted, if I had another child, the percentage would go up…but we’re still talking about tiny numbers, guys.

Children are the future, whether you personally have one or not. Children will take care of us when we’re old. They will be our paid caretakers, they will be our unpaid caretakers, they will pay our social security, they will subsidize our health care premiums as we age.

So why can’t we truly invest in our children and the mothers and fathers that parent them?

Postpartum World_ICON_4C_Yellow Rattle



To Medicate or not to Medicate?

In the interests of full disclosure (and as you may have guessed by my other posts) – I am absolutely a proponent of medication, be it mental health related or otherwise. You wouldn’t have thought so given my upbringing. My mom raised me to be an avid reader and skeptic of conventional wisdom. She taught me to question things and make sure that I was really doing my research. My mom was a huge advocate of holistic methods for healing, rather than just reaching for a bottle of drugs.

Mom was skeptical of all the bad press on eggs since before I could remember. When I had a sore throat, she had me gargle salt water. When my allergies or sinuses were bad, she handed me a neti pot.

Of course holistic cures aren’t always realistic when you work full time and only get four weeks of vacation (which also counts as your sick leave).

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More than Just a Breast

Guest post by Lisa D’archangelo

It’s safe to say that most of my expectations of having a baby were blown out of the water by actual reality. I mean… millions of people have babies every day; how hard could it be… right?

Expectation: Hey, I’ve never been off of work for an entire 3 months – I’m going to get SO much done on maternity leave!  

Reality: OMG I haven’t showered in 2 days, I can’t remember the last time I ate, and I’d choose sleep over either of those things.

I also envisioned a beautiful, bonding breastfeeding experience with my baby, which would enhance our relationship. I expected to nurse my baby for at least a year. I mean… millions of women breastfeed every day; how hard could it be… right?

What I couldn’t have predicted was the massive amount of time and logistics involved in breastfeeding; especially after going back to work full time. 

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Quitting’s Hard

Change is hard. It’s also true that the only thing that’s constant, is change.

We deal with change in our lives all the time. But it seems that little presents as much change as having a child. In your normal life, you go through a series of changes. Sometimes they’re sudden, but many times they happen slowly, over time. You have time to work up to that change. Graduating college, for example, is a change 22 years in the making. All of your choices lead up to it. You know it’s coming, for years.

With children, the changes happen rapid fire.

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