January 12, 2011

Pumping Stress

It really is true what they say about not knowing how good you have it until it’s gone (or something like that). I didn’t realize how lucky I was at my previous job when it came to providing me with a place to pump. I sometimes even got irritated because my little place was a server closet that had a free standing desk loaded up with equipment and a chair in it. Every morning when I came in I would unlock the door to my little room that had the dimmest of lights and let as much of the heat out as possible so that when I had to go in there it didn’t feel like I was in some sort of sweat lodge. Looking back now I miss my little place so very very much.

I don’t know if it’s just my new company or if because maternity leave in Canada is 12 months that companies don’t really know how to handle mothers who need a place to pump at work but I feel like they are severely ill equipped to handle my needs. Before taking this job I made it clear that I needed a place throughout the day to pump. My offices are pretty open and the only places that have a lock on the door is the HR office and one conference room that has ¾ of the window frosted. I was told I could use the HR office to pump when needed.

I have never been so frustrated and brought to tears more often about pumping than I have since working here. The HR lady who said to “just ask” when I needed her office is always “busy” and can’t leave or when she can it’s 4:00 in the afternoon and I can’t wait that long. When it comes to the conference room it’s ALWAYS booked so that’s not an option either. One day it got so bad that I actually had totake the subway to Amy’s work and pump in her office (which has a video camera in it by the way so I’m sure someone somewhere had a very eventful day.)

I know I don’t have that much longer to go but this is just making an already difficult “job” all the more difficult. It sucks having to constantly stress and plan where I’m going to go that day and how many times I’m actually going to be able to pump. And the even bigger stress of how will I get enough ounces to feed Jackson at daycare the next day when most days I only get one opportunity to sneak into a room for 15 min. I’m thinking I’ll only have to do about 4 more weeks of this and then Jackson will have passed his first birthday and will hopefully be on cow’s milk during daycare. How soon and how did some of you start transitioning your little one to cow’s milk?


Anonymous said...

That's terrible. Just terrible.

I'm glad that you're in the home stretch and won't have to endure this much longer, but I hope you'll be able to teach your company how to help pumping moms in the future.

How about bringing in a camping tent and setting it up in the middle of the office and putting a 'pumping station' sign on it? You could run in a power cord-- making sure it serves as a trip-wire for the HR lady who won't share her office--and maybe set up a beanbag chair in there?

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. Very sorry.

Laurie said...

This post has me steaming. It is your right to have a private place to pump and the fact that you don't is so infuriating to me. I don't know if there are laws in Canada about it, but in New York employers are required by law to provide a private, clean place for a woman to express her milk. You should look into it. I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with this. (hugs)

PS- We introduced moo milk to Ryan shortly after his first birthday. He still nurses once a day and gets moo milk in his sippy cup during the day.

Jen said...

I'm so sorry, Melissa. I was just telling my friends who work out of the home that I wouldn't have made it this long if I had to pump. I give so much credit to those of you who are pumping every day while at work. So, way to go for making it work!!

I know it's awful, but what about the bathroom? Or could you go in the HR room (with the frosted windows) and use a nursing cover? I'm sure you aren't wanting solutions but just to vent, but I just thought of those things.

I started dropping feedings (in your case pumpings) one month before Lily's frist birthday. I dropped the afternoon ones first (which might be helpful for you) and replaced those feedings with just more solids. Some days she still wanted milk, so it went back and forth for about 3 weeks. Then I dropped her bedtime feeding and gave her a bottle of half formula and half whole milk (around 12 months), then finally dropped the morning feeding soon after. She was ready to be done. For a while I kept going with the formula/milk then finally now give her an 8 oz bottle of whole milk in the morning and with dinner. As you know we are struggling to wean her from her bottle, but that is the next step. She will be 14 months next week.

Hope things get better. Lots of love from Texas!

E and M, jumpingoutoftrees said...

That sucks there is no place. I would call your doctor and ask if it's okay now? Or transition to formula for a few weeks and then to whole milk.

J and DZ said...

I just just the Ontario Human Rights Commision website and all it states for pumping is:

"At work, your employer should provide you with enough time to breastfeed or express milk for your child"

It doesn't seem that an employer is required to provide a place and I think you are right to assume the 1 year mat leave is making the difference.

Can you book your confernce room through outlook for a
recurring BF "meeting"?

Jen said...

I stopped pumping right on chunk's first bday because 365 days connected to a pump was enough. I started testing him with cow's milk by mixing it with bm on the week of his birthday and it took him about 8-10 days to like the taste of cow's milk alone. Right now he still nurses twice a day, gets one bottle of bm (frozen) at daycare and straight cow's milk in a sippee at all meals and snacks. All companies are different and even many places here in the U.S. could care less about pumping. Sorry you are going through this and I hope it becomes resolved sooner than later!

Shannon said...

I think you're absolutely right that in Canada, most companies assume that when women go back to work after 12 months, they are no longer breastfeeding. But so many women breastfeed beyond that or go back to work early (not everyone can afford the severe hit to their income that maternity leave means - it's nice that we get 12 months but it's not always do-able on a much lower income.) You should absolutely be given a place to pump and it sounds like your company needs to be educated about that. You should put it in writing and make it more official. It's not right.

Our kids both transitioned easily to cow's milk (although they were both on formula by then, not breastfeeding.) We started a few weeks before their first birthdays just giving them a small amount in a cup to drink so they'd get used to the taste. Then when they turned one we just made the switch all at once. We switched to cups (other than a bedtime bottle which we kept with Erik until around 18 months and Ian still has his so far at almost 18 months) and to milk all at the same time and neither of them batted an eye.

Good luck. I really think you should write a letter to HR at your company even if you think you're planning to transition to whole milk during the day soon.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain and I am just returning back to work after 6 weeks. I dont have a set place to pump it changes daily and I had thi great plan that I could pump 3x a day and that isn't happening. I have to wait til I cant take the pain any longer. It's horrible. To top it off I work for an ob/gyn! I hope that things get settled for you and it gets easier!!!

Next in Line said...

Pumping bites and in Canada no one has any idea what the heck it is all about. I know very few moms who have tried to do it.

I think setting up the tent in the office is the most Canadian option. We are outdoorsy people here. You can wear a toque and a fleece jacket from MEC while you set it up and then maybe roast a marshmellow while you pump. Then you just need Rick Mercer to come and film you.

You are not alone and I hope you are done soon. I am sure a little cows milk sooner than a year would be alright. These are guidelines not written in stone things anyway.

B. said...

Do you drive to work and have access to your car during the day? Maybe you could pump there? I know it's cold out, but you'd probably want to run the engine to keep the car battery charged while you're pumping anyhow, so you'd have the heater on. I think most pumps come with, or have available, an adapter to plug into the cigarette lighter. A nursing cover or blanket tossed over your chest, and you could veg out for 20 minutes every few hours. It could be a very pleasant escape from the office.

Stacey said...

That's lousy. I think like you and others stated, it has to do with the 12 month maternity leave.

I pumped for 2 months with Riley and stopped. I hated it. I can't imagine doing it at work. We started our kids on whole milk early. Well, Jackson started earlier than 1 year because he is our second child and we were less stressed about it. I think you can start mixing the bottles with some whole milk to get him used to the taste (Riley HATED it so we had to do a gradual transition). I mean, he's practically 1 so any time would be fine. I think it's not like the body suddenly changes in a month and he will be more tolerant of milk. I think do what you need to do and don't feel bad about it.

I would talk to HR and see if you can set up specific times. Maybe arrange a "meeting" time in her calendar so you can take her room for bf every day at specific times. Then she can go take a break or whatever.

I can't think of where I'd do that at my workplace. The problem is that there really aren't very many private rooms. When I worked at Celestica there was a private room for meditation and I think that would be the best place to pump at any work. I haven't worked at other places that had that though.

Casey said...

You can start transitioning to cow's milk now, if you need to. Or just water and lots of food and yogurt. I nursed Bird at her daycare 3 times a day and didn't pump after about 8 months (when she started to refuse to drink it) and at 11 months she started to refuse to nurse at daycare so we just loaded her up with yogurt and foods and nursed lots at home. It was totally fine.

Sorry you are having a hard time! You are so close though!

Gayby Rabies said...

I'm so sorry. I went through almost exactly the same thing at work, so I know how it sucks, and that the bathroom is not an option. After far too much frustration and calls to HR / chats with my supervisor, I have access to an unused office for pumping. I'm not sure where your office is located but if I hadn't gotten that room, my plan was to go to the nearby Target and pump in the dressing room there. Crazy, I know, but at least it's private and clean. Like many of the other posters, I don't know what the law is in Canada. I hope you find a solution that works for you soon.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I cannot believe that. I'm so very sorry you have to feel like that every day. I feel for you woman and I'm very impressed you have continued to pump under those circumstances when it would have been so easy to give up early.

Schroedinger said...

I can't even imagine the stress that this causes for you! It is not really conducive to expressing milk-- or anything but outrage :( I hope you get a different arrangement soon, or , if not, you find a way of transitioning to cow's milk that you can both feel good about.

Clara said...

That sucks. We transitioned our son at about the age yours is now.

Re; pumping, I wonder if it's your office layout that's the problem. I'm a labour & employment lawyer and my experience is that companies are really supportive and falling over themselves to try to accommodate lest they get dragged before the Human Rights Tribunal. I was surprised to read that your experience was that your american employer was more supportive. Both my sisters live in the states and had to pump in toilets and disguise the milk in the fridge. One sister gave it up within weeks and the other one could only get as far as 3mths and I've heard countless other stories so it's great that you had such a great employer in the states and sucky that you've ended up with one that isn't here. I don't think that experience is typical though.

Know that you have the law on your side, especially if it's something that you negotiated when you took the job so here's what I would suggest.

Write to the HR director as follows:

- I have really enjoyed working here etc
- however, I wanted to follow up regarding the pumping arrangements that we discussed when I accepted the job.
- I was told that I could use the board room or --'s office but it appears that my pumping times always conflict with meetings in the board room and --'s busy times.
- As such, the informal arrangement has not been working so far and I would like to request that a more formal arrangement be put in place.
- my pumping times are ------
- As my need to pump will be ongoing for --- months, a standing arrangement granting me continued access to the room at the stipulated times would be best.
- I appreciate your attention to my request and look forward to getting the details confirming my ongoing access to the space to pump at the designated times.
- Regards

I wish you luck with it.