Adulting is a lot, even for the super responsible, on-top-of-your-game all the time, mommy. Demands of the day weigh heavily on our shoulders. We need to bring home an income, but also care for our tiny humans. You need to make dinners and lunches, but you’re supposed to shower and show up to work looking like a complete professional, too. I mean, it’s fine, I can pull all that off by 8am every morning….. “ish.” Maybe…
The heart divide of a working mom
If you’re anything like me you feel like there is this weird divide in your heart. There is Rachel, the working mommy, the girl who loves Real Estate and negotiating deals with the big wigs in my industry. The rush that comes along with running in the dominantly male field of building homes and investing, and schooling those boys in my knowledge.
My experience and ability is something I am so unwilling to give up. I love the feeling of being underestimated, but then leaving the room shaking because I demanded their respect and am willing to work harder than they are to have the job.
In that same heart though, there is “Mommy Rachel”, who loves snuggles and kisses from my babies. Who adores being pregnant, feeling tiny kicks, and all the things the newborn world brings. I love all the feels that come into play as you meet this little person that has been apart of you for so long, the excitement of setting up a nursery, and day dreaming of the life you will soon have.
I am the mommy who would love nothing more than to have my Saturday afternoons spent in the porch swing, listening to my little loves play in their sandbox and jump on their trampoline. I love all the hand holding as we cross the streets and the little eyes searching for me from across the playground. I was made for this role of Mommy and I will never ever give up trying to overcome this divide I feel.
My love for breastfeeding
I am even the mommy who loves breastfeeding. I know, can you imagine, negotiating deals while rocking a baby and nursing him to sleep? That is me, pretty much daily. I have it down perfectly. I know how to sandwich my phone between my cheek and shoulder, yet still cradling Finn, keeping the latch just so, and stroking his little blonde curls while making eye contact with him.
I love the connection that breastfeeding establishes as I feed my baby. The way our bodies can remain connected even after he is delivered. I am honestly in awe of the fact that my body can not only grow tiny humans, but I can also feed and protect him long after he has been born. My body can make nutrients for another person, supply antibodies if it senses he is getting sick, or even extra fluids if my body senses a bit of dehydration in my baby. It is amazing to me how we, as women, are created.
Now, just a little disclaimer, I hate the phrase “Breast is best”. Nothing makes me more angry than to hear how women are pushed into exclusively breastfeeding. This post is not that. I just believe as women, we are powerhouses. God created us for amazing purposes and our bodies are equipped to be the mother our children need.
Sometimes, breastfeeding does not fit into that purpose that God so fervently designed for us. End of story. It is a personal choice, that I believe the mother needs to make, and is honestly able too, if we just listen to her. I choose the phrase “Fed is best”, instead. Just my personal choice was always breastfeeding. It is what I know and what my goal has always been.
Sticking to a goal
When my youngest was born, I was determined to breastfeed him for 12 months.
Finn is my only baby that I worked full time after having. With the first three, I was either in school or had just started out in the Real Estate World and still sort of training and learning from those I admire most in the industry. I had not quite built my platform so it was no big deal to sort of take a year off to do the baby thing. I could still gain experience as I moved through the infant stage.
By the time I had Finn, I was 34, and had been a Realtor® for awhile. I was working with investors in the lease home industry, guiding “flipping homes” and even starting to build my own home. Not to mention, I run a working mommy blog, The Secret Life. This blog was just starting out so I was working at night to build this empire in my “free-time”. Life was hectic and adding a fourth baby certainly did not slow it down.
I am not going to lie, I had a bit of mommy guilt going on too. I wanted desperately to be working, but also be the mommy my little Finn needed. I felt that weird divide that every working mommy feels. This was, and still is, a huge hurdle for me to overcome every day.
I want to provide a future of stability for my babies, but also always be available to them. It is a hard line to find some days, and I am still a work in progress on accepting it and squishing any quilt out of my heart.
Finn is my rainbow baby, so I am sure this played into my emotions, as well. I breastfed all my little loves so, by God, Finney was going to have that too. My hubby will definitely agree, but once I make up my mind, I do not back down. It may kill me, but if I say I am doing something I will do it. I am as stubborn as the day is long, but breastfeeding a fourth baby in my mid thirties, while building two empires was going to happen.
Related Post: How to Prepare Yourself for Nursing Your Newborn
Tips for managing breastfeeding as a working mom
Here is how I achieved my goal of breastfeeding as a working mom. Truth be told, Finn is still nursing sometimes in the middle of the night at 14 months, mainly for my sake though. He is my last baby and I am struggling to give up answering to the tiny little fusses in the quiet of the night.
Create a routine that works for you
This is my biggest tip. I am a firm believer in all things routine. Babies need it to hit milestones and start sleeping all night. Big kids need it for security and stability. I also believe as adults we need routine.
Knowing what comes next in my day helps me to achieve every goal I lay out. I can organize times to work on the blog during nap times and I can arrange client meetings and phone calls when I know the house will be quiet. Nursing was the same for me.
I knew at certain points in my day I could physically breastfeed Finn, which helps to stimulate milk production. However, I also knew about when he would normally be eating while I was working so I could make it a point to pump at these times.
Pump on the same schedule everyday
Pumping on the same schedule as the baby’s eating schedule will help your milk production to keep up with baby. It will also help you to not be depleted when you are trying to put your little one to the breast to physically nurse.
Pumping is no where near the same as physically breastfeeding. The pump can not get as much milk as your baby can. You have to keep pumping for it to work, so do not be discouraged if you only get half an ounce the first time you try. Just keep going!
Your body will get used to it and eventually be able to pump the same amount that your nursing baby is getting at each feeding. This is great, but also really makes it important to keep up the pumping. Skipping a session can set you back.
Continue to nurse as much as possible
It also always helped me to physically breastfeed vs only pumping and bottle feeding. A nursing mommy and her baby are in sync with each other. The mommy’s body actually can be prepped for a growth spurt from baby by the way the little one will suckle. Kisses to the baby’s face can actually stimulate the mother’s body to produce certain antibodies to share with the baby.
It is amazing to me! So amazing that it almost sounds like made up science, but check this out. When a mother kisses her baby, she is actually taking in pathogens on the infants skin, which will soon make their way into the baby’s mouth. Since the mother is taking in this pathogen herself, it actually stimulates her lymphoid system to create antibodies with her memory B cells. If she is breastfeeding, the mammary glands will actually take the antibodies created for the specific pathogens and put it into her breastmilk to protect the baby.
Invest some money into a quality breast pump
This one actually became something I depended on. Pumping on routine is another thing that helped me keep going, long after I went back to work.
I invested in a quality pump that I could use discretely at work. For anyone who truly knows me, you know that I am painfully modest. I never, ever want to draw attention to any part of me physically, but specifically my breasts. Crazy for the mama that loves breastfeeding, I know, but we all have our things and this was a hurdle I was going to have to get through.
I knew though in order to breastfeed successfully I really needed a pump I could use at work as well. This was a huge dilemma, but surely people have overcome this before. I couldn’t just have my boob out and about while showing homes or during a closing, or have a weird sound coming from under my shirt while on talking with contractors. How the heck was this going to happen?
I did some research and started hearing all kinds of things about a new cordless, quiet pump that you could wear in your bra or under your shirt. It was pricey and it seemed like the type of personal product you buy, but do not return ya know? Just sort of hoping for the best with a major purchase did not sit well with me either, especially because these pumps are getting close to $200.
After a lot of calling around, talking to different employees at baby stores, and even polling my OB’s office (true story, I had to know). I narrowed down my choices to the Freemie Liberty Mobile Hands Free Pump.
It fit perfectly under my shirts, no reason to be exposed, and was absolutely silent, allowing me to really stick to my pumping routine. It took some practice and maneuvering, but I eventually really got the hang of it.
There are no chords or bags, the cups fit perfectly and were small enough, and no one really noticed that I had anything going on under my shirt. Since there are no bags to worry about, there was no leaking or worry of movement spilling any of the pumped milk.
I got to where I depended on this little machine and trusted it enough that I even went to a open house with my pump going. I knew it was a little dicey, but I was also really trying to stick to my routine. I knew I would not have time to do it afterwards, as Finn would eat as soon I as I got back and we had baseball games all evening for my big boys.
It is insane the things we do as working mommies, but this goal was so important to me I was willing to spend a little extra and work a little harder to be able to breast feed my baby as long as I could.
Get plenty of extra nutrients
Allowing enough calories into your body can be so hard, but you need to learn to accept this new body. If for no other reason, just for this short time, appreciate all your body is doing. After pregnancy it is so tempting to rush back to the gym and slash calories in order to get back to your pre-pregnancy self.
I think as women, society places a demand for beauty that is somewhat unattainable for us. Momming is hard when you’re told you have to breastfeed, but you also have to shed the pregnancy weight immediately. The demands that those two expectations place is defeating and limiting the abilities your body has.
A huge decision that enabled me to keep breastfeeding for so long was honestly allowing myself to take time to get back to the size I was before I had baby. I did not rush myself to the gym. I accepted my new body. I respected my body and my milk production. Growing an entire other person is awe-worthy and demands respect in my opinion.
Some women are able to grow babies and produce milk without gaining a lot, but some women are like me and need to gain to go through the pregnancy. I ate healthy while pregnant, but weight gain and hips spreading is just how my body handles pregnancy. Same with breastfeeding. I knew this going in so I chose to love my body through it.
The size of my pants or the number on the scale may not match up with what popular opinion says I should be. However, a mother sacrificing herself and her body is the very vision of beauty I wanted to portray. There will always be time to lose weight, but there will not always be time to breastfeed Finn. This only happens once for his body and mine. I allowed myself to be determined to not let anyone, including myself, take that moment from me.
I gave myself the time to be the mommy I wanted to be. Even though I did not exactly love all the new curves, I accepted this new body of mine. It was a daily decision that I sometimes did not love, but the ability to have nursed my youngest for as long as I did will always have been the best decision for him and I.
This is what helped to achieve my goals
I breast fed all four of my babies, but none as successfully as I did Finn. Being determined, having my strong pumping and feeding routine in place, all while accepting my body helped me achieve my goal. I appreciated all the roles that this chubby body of mine was able to fill for my son and I.
Breastfeeding my last baby as I continued to carve out my little corner in the working world is an achievement I hold with such esteem. They are memories I will never forget and a sense of pride in myself that I will carry in my heart as Finn and I move towards the next chapter in our story.
I feel there will always be a divide in my heart. A demanding pull between the career I love and the most important job I have, being my baby’s mother. I may never completely figure it out or squash the guilt, but I will count breastfeeding for a year in my mid-thirties as one of my greatest achievements.
About the Author:
Behind the scenes mommy from the Secret life: Rachel is a Realtor® by day, mommy blogger by night and a mommy 24/7. Long walks down the Target aisles with a Sonic Diet Coke in hand, designing budgets for success and just generally keeping my tiny humans alive, are all the ways I pass the time. Would love to have you tag along as I find my way through this whole working mommy thing. Secret Life of Real Estate Mommy
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