Next week I’m going back to work! Granted it’s only for 6 days but still. I’m the stand manager for ITS UK at the ITS World Congress in Vienna. You’d be forgiven for not knowing what ITS is but this is my old area of expertise before events, escalators and babies. Think Oyster Cards in London – to cut a long story short it’s technology in transport.

Anyway, while I’m manning the stand and meeting up with old friends and acquaintances, Mike will be left holding the baby! I’m partly really looking forward to having the time to be ‘normal’ again but the other part of me is dreading it! I’ll not be with my little boy all day. What if he cries? What if he won’t settle without me?  What if his baby mullet rubs off when I’m not there?

Reuben’s Baby Mullet

To be fair, I’ve been training him to go to sleep in his car seat – it fits onto his buggy wheels and he prefers it to his pushchair, so I’ve been taking him out for walks and he’s been going to sleep in it during the day. Freedom!! So I think he’ll happily settle if Mike is out and about.

The evidence – Sleeping in his car seat (which fits in his buggy wheels)!

The other issue is milk and boobs.

In terms of milk, I’ve been expressing since he was 1 week old using a Nuby electric breast pump (which also converts into a handy hand pump) and we tried him with a bottle then. It’s not recommended by most breastfeeding experts as it was early days and it may have effected breastfeeding but since I’m using nipple shields anyway, I wasn’t too worried. He took to it fine, which is great as it means Mike can help out with feeds when I’m really tired and need a break. Plus it means I can leave him with people and don’t need to worry he’ll get hungry…thank God, since I knew I’d be working in Vienna for a week!

Electric Breast Pump by Nuby 

However, I’m certainly not going to be able to express enough for him to have exclusively breast milk as I have only been expressing about 4 – 5 oz in the morning, which is about enough for 1 feed. I can also try to express at night but it takes about twice the amount of time it does in the morning, and it’s likely that as soon as Reubs goes to sleep I’ll be right behind him! On the one hand I find it a bit sad/I feel guilty, what with breast is best and all that. But we have also tried him on a bit of formula and he slept like an angel after it.

So, the plan is express as much as I can in the morning and again in the evening, and then combine feed during the day with some formula milk.

In terms of boobies, when we tried him on formula part of me felt a bit liberated. I love feeding him, it never fails to calm him down if he’s tired or cross, and when he’s just hungry it cheers him right up and he’ll beam up at me when he’s finished. But I have also felt a bit of a slave to the boobies!

We had a glorious night last week when Reuben slept for 7 hours straight. I, however, was woken up instead by my boobs! They were incredibly painful and I was completely soaked in milk, so I had to get up anyway to change my clothes and express some of the milk off so I could go back to sleep. And that hasn’t been the first time that’s happened. You want him to sleep through but your boobs want him to wake up. What on earth?!

If Reuben isn’t feeding from me during the day I’m going to be like Dolly Parton for the first few days but then as the days go by my boobs will stop making as much milk. Obviously, I don’t want my milk to dry up so once again I will be slave to the boobies and have to sneak off to the toilets to express milk, which I’ll then have to throw away as I don’t have a fridge I could store it in! Typical. There’s also a chance I might get mastitis because expressing isn’t as effective as feeding for emptying your boobs of milk.

Man, it’s complicated.

I read somewhere that many women in America only take 6 to 10 weeks maternity leave. They must have such a high rate of mums changing to formula purely because it’s such a fanny on. Fingers crossed this will just be a blip and not the beginning of the end.