Apr 5, 2012

My Return to a Suit- HELP!

It's hard to believe that a year ago, I was in Italy- it seems like a lifetime and a half ago, yet just the other day.  Isn't it strange how the passage of time changes as we grow older?

Our nanny started yesterday, to get a feel for things before I start work on Monday.  While Dell Harper was napping under a watchful eye, I snuck out to hit up the grocery store.  As I perused Kroger,  I ended up settling on antipasto for dinner.  Perhaps I was subconsciously channeling last year's family trip to Florence?
Perfect meal for a hot spring evening- one that I will keep in my back pocket as things grow increasingly hectic around here beginning next week.  I have become quite anxious about returning to work  For one thing, I have no idea how I am going to manage getting dressed and getting out the door in the morning!  A suit?  Pumping friendly attire?  It sounds so . . .structured and complicated.

I am going to prepare a lot of meals for the freezer tomorrow, as well as try on outfits for the week.  I have no clue what fits and zips.  I have about 5-7 pounds to get back to my fighting weight, but my body is, well, altered.  Um, especially up top.  And I normally wear dresses, but those are not very conducive to pumping.

So working mamas- please help me!  I need advice on

a) getting ready in the morning
b) nursing mama/lady lawyer wear
c) pumping schedules in the office.

I am just scared to death.  Luckily, I will be working from home 2 days a week through the summer, and have a sitter part time the remainder of the week.  She is just as sweet as she can be- I came home from the Kroger yesterday to find Buddy licking her feet!  Ha!

Of course Miss Priss embarrassed the hell out of me and was super grumpy the whole time her new sitter was here, but hopefully she will be better today.  She liked her nanny a lot though, and felt comfortable with her.  Fingers crossed!


  1. Long time reader delurking! Best wishes as you go back to work. I am a working mom that pumped for 2 babies at work. Not a lawyer, but I dress like one ha ha! I did a lot of button down shirts over jackets and pants, or a light weight shell-like top that I can just lift up while I pump.
    Do you have a place to go to pump at work? That is important, obviously. I also communicated really well with my collagues that they knew what was up when I snuck to the conference room bathroom with my little black backpack! :) They knew that they could text me if they had an urgent issue. I had lots of support from the staff which made it soooo much better. Hope everything goes well for you! Your little one is so precious! :)

  2. i cannot wait to hear how next week goes...i'm sure it'll be fabulous!!
    we're still trying to decide between a nanny/day care/me going back to work so we'll see how this turns out--haha.
    i'm coming back to read other moms recommendations on pumping friendly attire and such...i think this is going to help a lot!!

  3. Good luck as you go back to work. You will do great, Dell Harper will love her new nanny, and you will find a groove! Don't be hard on yourself, and give yourself some to adjust. It gets easier every day!!

    I went back to work when Bellie was 4 months old and pumped for the next 7 months. I had one co-worker who was a champion for me, and she gave me great advice and insight.

    My main advice is have a pumping schedule. Set time in your calendar each day and don't let others move it. I pumped at 10am, 1pm and 4pm. On the days where something happened and I couldn't pump at those times, my whole body felt it. I didn't produce as much and it made the next day harder to get my production up.

    I was lucky that I had a big office. I could shut and lock my door (I also hung a "do not disturb" sign on the door). Because of that, I was comfy wearing my typical wardrobe. Strip my whole dress off - no problem! I was the only person who had ever sat in that desk chair!

    I wrote and replied to emails, wrote press releases and news stories, and edited my work while I pumped. If my co-workers had a real emergency where email wouldn't work, they called my extension. Maybe weird for some work environments, but we were all moms and very close.

    Good luck next week. It's going to be hard at first, but you can do it. And you'll be great!

  4. First, such a sweet picture of your girl and her bunny!

    Maternity leave goes by so quickly, doesn't it? I know it will be hard to leave your sweet girl but that's so great that you can work from home two days a week.

    I was going to just send you an email with the information you asked about but maybe it will be helpful to others? So I'll just leave you a super long comment here.

    Getting ready for work in the morning scared the life out of me in the beginning but it's gone pretty well. For me, it's easiest if I get up before she does and get myself ready, then get her ready when she wakes up. That works 9 times out of 10. Sometimes she has other ideas. If she is awake, I feed her then put her on a blanky on the floor with toys and she entertains herself. (When she was smaller and not mobile, I'd set her on the bed or in her vibrating chair.) We've had no more than a handful of mornings where she screams as I furiously throw on clothes and put my hair in a ponytail and we've been doing this for 4 months. My best advice would be to allow for at least 15-20 minutes longer than you think it will take you to get you both ready. I don't know where the time goes but it flies by in the morning.

    What to wear has been a bit more challenging. Like you, I wore primarily dresses but that doesn't work well for pumping. My office is fairly casual so I wear a lot of skirts with button down tops or tops that can be easily lifted up for pumping. Sweaters and knits that don't wrinkle are best so that you don't look like a wrinkled mess afterwards. Cardigans with a nice tank underneath also work well. I've found silk is a bad idea as inevitably you'll find yourself with a drop of milk on your blouse and silk will show that all day long. Other fabrics will hide the evidence.

    Scheduling pumping sessions can be tricky. I pump in my office with a "Do Not Disturb" sign and a chair in front of my door. (Closed doors mean nothing around here so the sign and chair are necessary.)You know how loud the pump is so it's hard to do while you're on a call. In a pinch, toss it in a desk drawer and it muffles the sound very well! Obviously it varies for everyone but I pump first thing in the morning at home and then every 3-4 hours thereafter. I used to be diligent about every three hours but that's gotten a bit lax over time. If I have a meeting or appointment, I try to pump right before or just adjust as best I can. A nursing cover is your best friend. I've pumped in parking lots before meetings. Also, the medela steam cleaning bags for the microwave are a must. I found the idea of washing pump parts in the office sink a bit embarrassing so it's nice to toss them into the steam bag in my office and then discreetly carry the milk in a cooler and the parts in the steam bag to the kitchen. Of course some of the men have asked "what's that?" and then wish they hadn't asked when I tell them. :)

    That's probably more information than you wanted but if you have questions, feel free to email me. I'll be thinking of you on Monday.

    - melissa (forthelovemel@gmail.com)Not sure why I can only post anonymous comments on your blog now...

  5. Well, I ended up not needing to pump since I never made enough milk, but I was told by many working moms that wrap dresses could be your best friend. And, to literally set the times in your calendar and like the previous commenter said, don't let it get moved.

    I will say that I get everything ready for the next morning the night before and that seems to help me. My husband is also a HUGE help in the mornings since clearly I am higher maintenance when it comes to getting ready.

    And, yes, try everything on and take anything that doesn't fit and feel good out of your closet. One of the biggest time sucks/ frustrations was trying to figure out what to wear at first. If it wasn't even in my closet it was so much easier to know what I had to choose from.

    Good luck!

  6. Also, freezer meals are a lifesaver, as I'm sure you know!

  7. Good Luck! I've been back to work about 6 weeks and it was really hard at first but it gets easier.

    Getting ready tips:
    decide on outfit day before
    pack bags night before including lunch and pumping bag and diaper bag
    pack breakfast to eat at your desk

    I am not a lawyer but a lobbiest so I'm guessing the attire is close. I wear a lot of slacks and sweaters, pencil skirts and blouses, suits with button up. I find as long as you can lift the top or unbutton the top it works.

    The biggest problem is milk dripping on your dry clean only clothes. I hold a klenex under the breast while it's pumping and try to catch drips. I always keep extra breast pads, klenex or baby wipes and shout wipes in yourdesk.

    For the first week or two my supply was down due to stress and fatigue. To prevent that you can pump a little more often at first then once you are acclimated cut down pumping a little. I nurse before I leave, pump around nine or nine thirty, nurse or pump on my lunch depending on my schedule and then pump again at 2-3 and nurse right when I pick Margot up at 5 or 5:30.

    Milk can be at room temperature for 6-8 hours so I often never have to bother refrigerating at my office. But make sure to lable time and date so if you leave it out you know when it must go into the fridge.

    Hope that helps.

  8. Ooh, girl, now you're speaking my language. I think lots of working, pumping mamas have given you good advice, so I'll second what they've told you and add the following:

    1. Dresses are nearly impossible for me, which is also what I usually wear. I just couldn't get comfortable with being THAT stripped down at my desk while pumping. I do mostly shirts you can lift up or wear nursing tanks under cardigans or jackets.

    2. I 100% agree regarding the schedule (I have two [private] Outlook reminders daily) but give yourself some grace - it's hard to pump in addition to billing hours! But at the same time, make sure to prioritize your pumping; it's easy as an attorney to let your client demands win out, but your body and your baby need you to pump, so try not to feel badly prioritizing as such.

    3. I have a fridge at the office, and I keep not only my milk in the fridge but also my pump parts - GASP, I know. I do not clean them at all between my pumping times at the office. I just put them in a plastic baggie inside my insulated tote and put them into the fridge. If breastmilk keeps in the fridge for a few days, then it can keep on my pump parts for a few hours between sessions. Then I wash the pump parts at home that evening.

    4. Buy a second set of pump parts so you always have some clean. Leave the extra set, along with extra bottles, storage bags and paper towels in your pump bag, if you can, for emergencies.

    5. Good luck! It's hard. The anticipation is worse than the actual first day, but there will be many more hard days - and many more great days. They're so worth it regardless!

  9. You've already gotten lots of excellent advice, so I'll just share a funny pumping at work story. I'm a teacher, so I pumped at my desk over my planning period with the door locked. I had just gotten one of those fancy nursing bras that the pump attaches to so you can pump hands free. My first (and only) time to try the bra, I was happily grading papers while pumping when I heard a noise at the door. Our tech guy (stereotypical antisocial tech guy) unlocked the door and walked in to update my computer. I was trapped. The pump was attached to me. I was completely exposed. I frantically tried to cover myself with my arms to no avail. The tech guy made it all the way across the room before he realized what was going on, turned, ran out of the room (which, for a 60-year-old chain smoker, is pretty impressive), and refused to look me in the eye (let alone speak to me) for two years. Moral of the story: know who has a key to your door.


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