My personal goal was to exclusively breastfeed for at least one year. My career however has not co-operated with this plan. Adjusting to working full-time has been extremely difficult for me. There are blurred lines between work and home, and I just cannot seem to define them. I am really struggling. I suppose it will only take time, as proven with almost every other part of my motherhood.
The type of work I do is quite stressful. There are always multiple deliverables due at the same time, causing my day to be extremely busy. I did not mind the constant pressure before she was born because it was always okay to leave work a little later in order to meet my requirements. But things are different now, everything has changed. Working a little late, even if it just on some days, is no longer ideal. And yes I know, there will be times when I am required to work late, in order to meet a deadline, but on normal ‘business as usual days’, working late is definitely not ideal.
Working days have become a constant rush. I am rushing in the morning to get myself ready, express, and get her sorted before I make my way to work. I am rushing at work so that I can take some time off to express and so that I can still leave on time (even though I have taken time off to express). I rush home so that I can spend roughly 2 hours with her before it is her bedtime. Sleep training was successful, so Ammaarah goes to bed at 8pm on most evenings. When I get home, I am therefore still rushing, as I need to bath and feed her and play with her during those very short two hours. By the time she goes to sleep, I am absolutely exhausted. My sister warned me about this, about the difficulty in adjusting to being a working mother. And she was right, it really is tough! (I commend every single one of you working mommy’s!)
It has become too much for me to cope with and I needed to find a way to relieve myself from some of this constant rushing. I therefore made the difficult decision to stop expressing. We decided that it would be okay to do combined feeding – breastfeeding in morning and evenings, and formula feeding during the day. The decision was tough, because I felt extremely guilty and because I felt like a failure, but the signs were all there. Expressing had become difficult and more time-consuming, and I am positive it was due to the stress caused by all the rushing. I tried to remain calm, but I couldn’t. I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with combined feeding, or even formula feeding alone, but I had a plan and things are not going according to my plan. (I have been reminded yet again that my plans are never the final plans!)
It took me a while to come to terms with my decision. But after accepting the decision and trusting in the assistance from the Almighty, I could immediately see and feel the difference in my working day. I no longer rush in the morning and more importantly, I no longer rush her when she feeds in the morning. I no longer rush at work which has resulted in me becoming more efficient. I no longer rush when I get home, because I am no longer stressed from rushing since the moment I woke up. And it is all because I have more time!
I now see that it is okay for me to be selfish sometimes, and to think about how my decisions for her affects me. I am calmer, I feel less stressed, and most of all, I am happier. It was a difficult decision, but a good decision. It was a good decision for me. I am sure that this is not the last of the difficult decisions I have to make during my motherhood, where I have to choose between her and myself. And none of it will probably be easy. But this experience of expressing has taught me a valuable lesson, and that is that I am important too! Something I seemed to have lost along the way…