It happened. I brought my baby-and wore her-for two whole days of training.
It went really well.
First of all, I want it to go on the record that I have been blessed with unbelievably mellow, nice babies. Two of them. I feel this is arranged by the universe to give me time to recover between pregnancy (a bad scene for me) and toddlerhood (my first talked very early and her sister seems to be following suit. This makes the “terrible twos” extra exciting.)
But back to the whole “working while literally wearing a baby” thing-
I was very anxious. Anxious my baby would choose this one day to have an epic meltdown. Anxious I’d look unprofessional. Anxious the trainers really didn’t mean it when they said I could bring the baby. Anxious other parents would judge me. Anxious I wouldn’t learn anything because I’d be too distracted. Anxious people would think I was some weirdo breastfeeding militant. Anxious people would freak out about me nursing in public.
I should not have worried.
First of all, the other participants and the trainers LOVED the baby. I mean, most people like babies, but everyone thought it was great I brought her! Something different, I guess. People came to talk to me about their children and babies. Moms shared their nursing stories. People held her and played with her.
Secondly, she was a champ. I wore her in a ring sling almost the entire time (it was two eight hour days). I paced the back of the room with her, nursed her, gave her teethers. She nursed, slept, and looked at things. No crying. No fussing. I think she was pleased to just be with me without her sister smacking her on the head- I mean, “petting” her-while she was nursing.
Also, she listened to the training, so she is super smart now.
It was easy to pay attention with the baby because at this point, multiple distractions are my norm. Having only one distraction was peaceful. Also, I always get bored at trainings. With my companion, I wasn’t bored at all.
I have become fairly good at nursing in public. I am able to nurse my baby in the ring sling, which is useful to support her body without a nursing pillow. I wear nursing tanks and loose shirts, so my skin is covered. I pull the top shirt up, and the tank covers my stomach. I shove my nipple in her mouth and pull the shirt down so my breast is 99.9% covered. This level of access and modesty is what is comfortable for me. I do not use a nursing cover because I actually feel it calls MORE attention to the whole ordeal. Also, I like to travel light. I’ve had people actually peer into my baby’s face before they have figured out she is latched on and nursing. Also, I’ve covered her face while nursing for various non-modesty reasons (sun, wind, noise) and she hates it. Apparently, I didn’t offend anyone, and if I did, no one said anything.
There were a few downsides.
It was exhausting. The only thing more exhausting than being a working mom, I’ve decided, is working and mom-ing simultaneously.
My baby is not fantastic in the car, and screamed the entire way home the first day, and BOTH ways the second day. Stopping to feed, change, and soothe her did not help. This training was an emotionally and mentally challenging and depressing topic. My commute was an hour each way. The screaming almost unhinged me.
Lastly, I felt somewhat resentful. This is hard for me to admit, but I want to be honest here. I adore my baby, but I exclusively breastfeed her, and bed share. “Me time” is a sacrifice I willingly make as a parent. Giving up the time to soley focus on my career for a few hours was difficult. I had to “mom it up” while everyone else could just absorb knowledge and eat lunch and pee alone. It made me resentful at times throughout the two days.
Overall, however, it was very positive! I believe more women should ask about bringing their babies-nursing or not-to work related events if the event and baby’s temperament appear to be a possible match. I’m glad my day worked out for me, and to expand the idea of “working mom” a little bit further in people’s minds.