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Work-Boob Balance

I had a few setbacks this week in my pumping schedule. There were too many meetings, calls to make, emails to return. There were days when I had a choice whether to leave early enough to battle downtown Seattle traffic so I could pick up my kids before the daycare closed, or have a late afternoon pumping session and risk not arriving at the daycare at closing and having to call them, ONCE AGAIN, that I would be late.

I find myself making these decisions all the time. What suffers? What thrives? If I get out the door with my kids dressed and the baby bottles packed, it's certain that I have paid very little attention to my grooming. My hair is firmly tied back into a ponytail because it takes too much time to flatten it with a straight iron. Every morning I decide to take care of my kids and shield the public from hair so frizzy it's like a science fiction fro, defying gravity in every strand.

There were only two days this week that I could pump three times. The other days, I had only enough time for two pumping sessions. I was able to attend a meeting, complete a report and answer calls without also explaining what that buzzing was in the background. I feel like I am succeeding in my job during the day, but my larger job as a mother — the one I can't clock out of — is the real yeoman's work.

In the first few weeks back at work, I was able to pump frequently. I had a routine, a system of looking at baby pictures and relaxing videos of waterfalls while my pump whirred away. Summer had just started and work was quieter. Now that the fall schedule is upon me and more meetings are being added to my calendar, I'm struggling to find that work-boob balance.

Each day is an experiment in time and a test of my energy. I have to learn to be more upfront about my bandwidth, which is difficult for me. It's hard to admit that I have limitations at all, that you wouldn't immediately think of Helen Ruddy singing "I am woman, hear me roar!" when you look at my Outlook calendar.

Right now my baby is healthy and my boss happy so maybe there will be one day in the future that I can think of myself, too. My hair would appreciate the attention.