There's an opportunity I was offered a few weeks ago to travel out of town for business. Normally, I would jump at the opportunity because business travel marries my love for my work with my love for getting out of mom duty! My previous trips were taken before I had my second child and when my first son was already weaned. So now I have to consider if the time away from nursing my son at night and pumping on the road is worth it.
There are definite benefits to saying yes. Outside of my job, I don't get much time for myself. Our baby sleeps in the bed with us so I can co-sleep and nurse which shrinks our bed considerably. I spend most of my mornings rushing to brush my older son's teeth and prepare my baby's bottles for daycare. I'm lucky if I get the time to unhinge my jaw long enough to shove a graham cracker inside. At night, we're making dinner, talking about our days and drawing baths and often I'm so exhausted, I can only read a book in one-page chunks before I pass out.
During business travel, I get a space that I can call mine. I love the little soaps and shampoos in the hotel bathroom. I love having a bed all to myself, one with fluffy comforters and extra pillows that I don't have to make the next day. I love ordering a room service burger and welcoming it into my warren. The TV flickers with the shows I want to watch, no cartoons allowed. I get to network with other adults and learn about the exciting things other people are doing. No one is asking me for permission slips or to make treats for the class party. I am asked about what I do in my career, not if my baby is sleeping through the night.
But during my last trip, I didn't have to worry about nursing or pumping. My son was three and my husband could handle the few nights without me. I know my husband is capable of managing the house on his own, but it's different now. There are two kids instead of one. It'll be different for my baby to get a bottle exclusively since my husband can't physically breastfeed and refuses to wear any supplementary nursing device. The nerve!
And then there's the question of pumping itself. If I did go, I know I could pump and store the bottles in the hotel fridge. I have enough milk stashed in the freezer that if I didn't schlep the milk home, my son would be okay. But I would hate to lose the milk I worked on since my low supply is such a dilemma as it is. Like if I were starving and emptying sandwich platters into a dumpster.
I would love to go not just for the room service and the hotel slippers, but because the opportunity would be instrumental for my career. The topic is important to me and would strengthen interests I already have. But what is the cost of furthering my career when my number one priority — my baby — factors in so greatly? I'm still mulling the idea if I should just wait until another opportunity comes my way and if my career can afford staying grounded in the meantime.
Have you traveled for work while breastfeeding?