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When I had my daughter, who is my second baby, I had big plans to breastfeed for at least six months. Knowing I had to start back at work after four months of maternity leave, I felt so much more prepared and empowered to keep it up since I knew what to expect. With my first baby, my company gave me extra pumping breaks, so I could have that dedicated time to focus on pumping or breastfeeding since we worked remotely. When I started back, I put in the request with my manager to get those pumping breaks, and she told me she would get back to me once they were HR-approved.
After a few days, I received an email forward from the HR department stating that I would not be allotted extra time to pump or feed and that if I did need more breaks, I would have to use my sick time or go unpaid. I was infuriated. Not only was this not an issue a year prior when I had my first baby, but I also knew other parents in my department who were getting PAID breaks. After having a nice, long cry and conversation with my husband, I knew this was the hill I would die on (metaphorically, of course). I blasted this news out on our Slack channel for parents letting all the other expectant, and current mothers know this is how we would be treated going forward. And this from a company that is touted as being one of the best for working parents. Even my 21-year-old brother was taken aback at how my company decided to treat not only me but other new moms; it was after a conversation with him that I knew I could no longer work for that company. They failed other mothers and me alike.
I spent the next two months pumping while in meetings or on the phone or sneaking in an extra break here and there just to make sure my daughter was fed. I felt degraded trying to remain professional while having a machine attached to me while on Zoom calls with my peers. I was taking all the supplements, drinking a copious amount of water, and doing anything that would help keep up my supply. Ultimately my supply was dipping and I had no consistent schedule because every day at work was different. In the beginning, I had been so excited to share this bond with my daughter and it felt like every day that special time was being ripped away from me. I was struggling mentally, and I needed a break from constantly feeling like just a milk machine.
One night I broke down and told my husband we needed to try formula so that I could get a little reprieve. I had already felt like I was not able to be present with my husband or my son because I was constantly having to pump. I knew combination feeding would be the only way to get through this. Combo feeding did not come easy for us. Every type of formula was making my daughter violently spit up immediately after we gave her a bottle. My husband was making daily trips to the store, desperate to find something that would not make her sick. Finally, we found a store brand that worked for us. We started getting into a formula feeding routine and I started feeling like I was getting back to myself. That’s when my supply started to dip even further. We combo-fed for a total of 9 weeks and then fully transitioned to baby formula.
She is thriving, but I know that I would not have gotten through this without my family’s support. My family kept me sane in one of the most trying times of my life. They kept me calm when I was on the verge of breaking down. Looking back, I think I needed this push to examine what kind of company I worked for and who they were putting first. Without this experience, I would not have found Bobbie (where I now work as a customer experience specialist!). My entire mindset shifted, and I knew that I needed to move to a company that not only embraced being a parent but celebrated it.