In October, I took four days of sick leave to cover the plague that fell over my house. For two days, my boys had pinkeye and then two other days my poor baby had an ear infection. Because my bosses are understanding (and awesome) enough to allow for workplace flexibility, I decided to stay home with them. It threw a wrench into my normal schedule. Instead of being at the computer or on the phone or sifting through paper piles, I was at home, attending to the needs of two sniffly boys.
I did not pump on those days. Instead, I breastfed my baby. I kept the milk I had pumped in the freezer, ready for him to drink when I did return to work. I fed him on demand, which is what I do at night and on the weekend. I cradled him in my arms, brushed my finger along his forehead down the bridge of his nose, his eyes closing and his large baby body falling asleep.
When I am breastfeeding during the day and not pumping, I like to pretend that my life is like this all the time. I pretend like it's my normal routine to be in the drugstore at 10 AM looking for pinkeye drops when in reality I never get to shop unless it's after 5 PM during the weekday or it's on the weekend, when every other person in Seattle decides to shop. When I am ferrying my kids in a shopping cart through an empty store, it's a luxury.
I do love my job. Every day that I get to go to work and contribute in a meaningful way to an organization that firmly has my heart-pull, I am grateful. But these moments when I get to play mom during the day, fulfilling needs of my babies the way only a mom can, it makes up for all the days when I'm in my office, pumping into a machine so my infant can have that uniquely special nourishment when I'm not around. I enjoy every moment with my children and on the unexpected days when one or both of them is feeling sick or I'm taking a day off and keeping both of them home, I look for the silver lining, even if that lining is a hungry baby pawing at my chest like I'm smuggling a thick ham steak in my bra.
The sick days end and my kids recover. I put them to bed and I prepare what I'll wear the next day. I pack up my laptop bag, get my breast pump charged, its parts washed, the cooler filled with bottles. I fall asleep after everything is in place and my family is ready to return to our regular roles in the morning.