Last weekend I left baby Paul for the longest stretch we've ever been apart, five full days. I've known about this getaway for over ten months, but like all things in life, the timing of the trip snuck up on me. Ten months ago, I was pregnant and very positive that it wouldn't be a big deal to leave an almost seven month old with his dad for a few days.
I was wrong, kinda. Leaving Paul for a five day trip was very hard, both emotionally and physically.
Let's start with the emotions. Sure, babies are a ton of work, and at the end of the day you are utterly exhausted. But oh, the reward is so great. I've decided that nothing in this whole world calms my soul and brings me more peace than a heavy sleeping baby snuggled up on my chest. Over the past few months, Paul and I have gotten into a routine and rhythm. And when we're apart, I'm just not myself.
And then of course there is the physical aspect of leaving Paul. While Paul now gets 3 meals a day of pureed fruits and vegetables, I'm still nursing him around six times throughout a 24 hours period. So when I'm away from Paul, I'm pumping around every 3-4 hours.
I pump for two very obvious reasons:
1. My body is making milk, and I need to physically remove the engorgement. In the past I've gone a few time without pumping or feeding for 5-6 hours, and it very quickly manifested into a plugged duct. For obvious reasons, I wanted to avoid this at all costs, so pumping every 3 hours has to happen for health purposes.
2. I need to pump to keep up my daily supply. One of my main concerns of leaving Paul while he's still nursing was that he wouldn't be interested in breastfeeding anymore when I returned. Thankfully, I'm happy to report that this was not the case at all. In fact, nursing Paul was one of the first things I did when I got home. Before showering, before eating anything, basically before I even put down my suitcases, I grabbed my baby and nursed him.
Looking back at the trip, I'm glad I went. The trip provided to be a valuable experience, and Paul did just fine without me (or so says my husband). The only thing that sucked very much (pun intended) was all the public restroom stalls I got to visit over the course of the 5 day trip.
Pro-tip: invest in a good pump, and make sure you have a few spare batteries tucked away inside the bag (if it’s electric). Unfortunately, I had to learn the dead battery thing by experience in an airport restroom stall.
But honestly, I was worried that Paul wouldn't want me back when I returned, and I'm so glad that wasn't the case at all.