This last Thursday was my first day back on duty. I haven’t drilled since early March. I had every intention of attending April’s UTA, but MAC decided to make an early appearance and came Wednesday before drill weekend – so much for that! The thought of going back was nerve-racking, even though I never envisioned myself being a stay at home mom, nor was it possible financially for our family. Plus, I like my job(s). I wasn’t particularly worried about the care she would receive, as DH would be with her for the first half of the day and my FIL the second half, but as an exclusively breastfed baby (EBF), I worried about her feeding/eating. She’d been introduced to bottles at week four, and didn’t seem to have a problem, but how would she do with bottle feedings during the entire day? How would she do with being soothed by someone other than me (and my boob)? Did I thaw enough milk? My office is fairly relaxed, so I wasn’t worried about the nature of my job, or whether or not pump breaks would present a challenge. Fortunately, the first day away went seamlessly. I woke up with plenty of time to get ready, nurse her, and get to work fifteen minutes early. She had plenty to eat, didn’t fuss for DH or FIL, and took a morning and an afternoon nap, which isn’t her usual routine. DH texted me pictures throughout the morning to keep me smiling. The second day was another story. She didn’t go back to sleep when I woke up, she wound up with a painful diaper rash by the end of the day, and she slept five hours and didn’t eat during that period. Not good! Nothing like getting the good and the bad during my two days of work. Thankfully, I got off a little early on Friday, so I was able to come home and take care of my little darling.
Game on, let’s do this!
Being back at work felt good. If I had to be away, I was going to enjoy my adult time and conversations. Both hands were free for more than a few hours, which is atypical for me these days. 😉 I went whole hog at lunch time, as it was the first meal I’d had in twelve weeks where I could eat with two hands, at my pace, and without needing to rush to get back to anyone. This meal won’t help me get my figure back any sooner, but it was good! Speaking of fitness, my regular pre-pregnancy ABU pants don’t fit yet, so I was stuck wearing my maternity ABU pants. Depressing, but much more comfortable. Per regulations I have six months to wear my maternity ABUs, and I don’t necessarily want to give up and spring for the next size up in pants yet, so we’ll see what happens. I hear the men’s pants (authorized for wear by women) have a better fit. Maybe I’ll just buy a pair of those and avoid the issue of not fitting into my old pants altogether! If you’re a breastfeeding mom in the military, I can’t recommend bookmarking Breastfeeding in Combat Boots enough, or adding them on your various social media outlets. They have a book, but I haven’t read that yet. They have information on all of the branch policies for breastfeeding, pumping, and so forth. I was able to take breaks as needed and use an empty office near mine. My squadron has a fridge available, so storage wasn’t an issue. I chose to pump every two hours for up to twenty minutes, which worked out well. A SNCO friend of mine recommended a pumping bra to continue working while on breaks, but I found that I could multitask without one. Of course, I was ten minutes into my first session when someone walked into the office – fortunately, it was a woman. While the conditions in my office were very accommodating, I can see how big of a pain pumping at work can be. You really need to be motivated to continue giving your child breast milk exclusively if you’re going to keep it up for a while in the military, or any job for that matter. I have a newfound appreciation for the moms highlighted on the Breastfeeding in Combat Boots FB page that have made it to the year marker while serving on Active Duty. I have a long way to go, and the new challenge of returning to teaching, but I’m proud of the three month marker that I’m going to hit tomorrow. Next time I go back to work is mid-month, so I’ll keep you posted on any new hurdles or whether or not I’ve made it back into those ABU pants!
I’m a 31 year old Navy sister, Army wife - Air Force wife to a prior service Marine/Soldier, and an Air Force Reservist. I am a happy wife and mother. My husband switched branches and joined me in the Air Force Reserve. We look forward to a future of dual military service!