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    Letter to the Mother's Room

    Letter to the Mother's Room

    Dear Pumping Moms,

    Today is a day of mixed emotions.

    Allow me to jump up and down, burn my pumping bag, crush my pump parts and sport a REAL bra from Victoria’s Secret because hot dang it, I AM DONE PUMPING! I feel like the rally song that you hear at the Chicago Bulls games should be playing “annnnnnd now, from Buffalo Grove IL, one year pumper, she’s done, CHRISTINE NNNNNOGAL!” – and the crowd goes wild, of course. No more carting around my pump, no more watching the clock, no more pressing my breasts to see if it’s time or not… no more!

    BUT (always a but…)

    Allow me to well up with tears, hug my pumping bag, sorrowfully pack away all the parts and retire a hardworking bra that “supported” me through the hard times. I am done pumping. I feel like I just want to sit in the Mother’s Room alone all day and mourn. Will I regret this? Should I have pumped until she went off to college? Who am I now? Am I still part of the breastfeeding community? Am I making the right choice? No more watching the bottles fill up and feeling pride as it hits the next ounce mark, no more making time in my workday to focus on this process and my baby, no more giggling with fellow breastfeeders as we joke about the insider experiences of pumping… no more…

    Pumping and breastfeeding is such a personal journey and taught me so much believe it or not! I pumped for one year with my son and now achieved one year with my daughter. It has taught me patience – sitting 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes if I had clogs and waiting until the last drop. It has taught me discipline – those busy days, those lazy days, those hard days that I just didn’t feel like doing it, I had to and I did. It has taught me dedication – this was an important goal that directly impacted my baby’s health and my health. It has taught me to be healthy – sleep, water, nutrition, stress, diet, exercise are more important than I ever knew, to me and my baby. So, of course, my reaction to closing this chapter of my life wouldn’t be all celebratory.

    To conclude my soapbox speech: we are all part of the breastfeeding community. Whether you supplement, pump at work, exclusively pump or exclusively breastfeed… whether it’s for a day, week, months, years – there are no dividing lines, one way is not better than the other. Be proud, you’re doing it. To all of you, I offer you a fist bump in the hallway. To all of you who wake up in the night to pump, who have worked through the pain of mastitis and clogs, who have felt defeated during supply dips, who are ignoring the gnawing feeling of guilt because you’re far from your baby right now – you are amazing. What you are doing is important. KEEP. IT. UP.

    I’m always here, so don’t hesitate to reach out (it will help me to feel connected to this world still)

    Christine
     

    Surrogacy: A Labor of Love

    Surrogacy: A Labor of Love
    Well it's a funny story! I used to watch the show "Friends" religiously. One day I was watching it with a friend and it was the episode where Phoebe is a surrogate for her brother. My friend asked me "Would you have my babies someday for me if I couldn't?" And without a second thought I said, "Of course I would!"

    Read more

    Babies in the Board Room: Workplace Flexibility for Moms

    Babies in the Board Room: Workplace Flexibility for Moms

    I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea virtually through a Facebook group I started for moms to share breastfeeding and pumping tips and support (and also provide me with business and product feedback).  She posted about her amazing and unique "Babies in the Board Room" experience, wherein she brings her youngest child to the office.  I thought this was so fascinating - and such an awesome example of how workplace flexibility and innovation supports employers AND moms - that I wanted to share it here with you.

    Q. Where do you work and what is your position?

    A. I work in a non-profit my local United Way, I am responsible for volunteer engagement and programming.

    Q. Tell us how you came to the decision to bring your baby to work:

    A. I had been at the United Way for two years and at the time there was a coworker who had two daughters ages 8 and 10 that spent their afternoons at our office so they didn't need to go to after school care. My CEO always has said we are family friendly; when I told her I was pregnant she said, "you can bring the baby to work!" She informed me that employees in the past had had their babies in the office for as long as 8 months or as little as 3 weeks and that I should utilize this opportunity for however long it works without disturbing others or affecting my work load. I informally call this setup, "babies in the board room!" She expressed that she had male employees who would bring their children to work 1-2 days a week so they could have the bonding, the mother would come to the office throughout the day to nurse but she felt proud to have an opportunity to help a dad be such an awesome influence in his childs life.

    Q. Why does your employer support bringing your baby to work?

    A. She really values her employees and doesn't want the financial or other costs of multiple children in day care to be a factor in a mom possibly quitting or being rushed back to work to interfere with breastfeeding and bonding with your baby.

    Q. Tell us what a typical work day is like with baby in the office:

    A. To best accommodate my schedule I come in at 6:30am this allows me to have quiet time without others in the office, the baby still sleeps at this time as well. So I can really maximize my time until the office officially opens and all the other distractions happen. I work at a desk going through emails/phone calls takes up most of my day. I do have meetings almost every day, where most have commented on how "lucky" I am to bring my son to work, I am not sure if it is luck or just a great idea. I wear a wrap/sling which allows me to be hands free to address emails, phone calls and feeding all at the same time. This also allows me to roam throughout my office without the worry of if I leave for a minute the baby will start fussing.

    Q. How has bringing your baby to work benefitted you?

    A. I feel bringing my baby to work has provided me the option to continue breastfeeding, bonding and prevention of leaving such a small child in care. With my oldest (5), I worked nights and did not have to leave her in care, I was able to be with her for all of her firsts, I was terrified of leaving my son somewhere and missing all of that. This provides a different way of working without so much mommy guilt. We beat ourselves up enough just wondering if we make the right choices being parents, the last thing we need to do is worry how we can afford day care, if someone is going to care for my child at 6 weeks the way I would etc.

    Q. What are the challenges for you in bringing baby to work?

    A. My biggest fears/concerns about bringing my son is that others will feel I can't do my job or they will be interrupted from doing theirs. But the reality is no one cares, they are happy he is here sometimes too much where people want to come and visit the baby, but I want them to leave him alone as I am in the middle of my work and he is quiet. 

    Q. How long do you think you'll bring your baby to work?

    A. The theory of this is for however long it works, that could be a few weeks, a few months etc. I think that the last point he may be able to stay is when he starts crawling this could be a safety hazard, but it depends. My daughter didn't really enjoy crawling she loved being in a jumper or walker and would sit there for hours if you would let her. So I really believe it depends on how he develops and his preferences and who knows I may say well this isn't working for me anymore, before my employer does. I just know that it is something that works for now.

    I pretty much wear him all day and he is happy as can be; yes he has had a couple days of cranky, but no one has said anything. So, for now it works, it could change tomorrow and we are prepared for that but i am enjoying this opportunity for as long as I get it!

    We're Going Global!

    We're Going Global!

    What an amazing first 9-months I've had in business; the response from customers to my stylish, functional and discreet breast pump bags has been overwhelming and so supportive.  Thank you!  I've been hearing a lot from moms in other parts of the world that they want to get their hands on a better breast pump bag; I'm pleased to announce that through a selling partnership with Amazon, I am now offering the "Maddy" breast pump bag in over 30 countries.  More coming soon!  Check back for news as we roll out availablity in additional locations.

    CANADIAN CUSTOMERS Shop for Your "Maddy" Breast Pump Bag Here

    UK and EUROPEAN CUSTOMERS Shop for Your "Maddy" Breast Pump Bag Here

    What are customers saying about the Sarah Wells "Maddy" Breast Pump Bag?  Check out this (comprehensive!) review from one of our UK customers:

    "As the approach of my return to work was looming I decided there was a few things I needed to sort out, one big concern for me was how and when I would pump in order to continue to breastfeedI soon realised that everything would not fit in my usual work bag how I imagined! I was quick to search via my good friend Google in order to track down some kind of specific breast pump bag that may be the answer to my prayers.

    What hit me was the complete lack of such an item here in the UK, on my first search all it kept returning was storage bags for milk, not the kind of ‘bag’ I was after.

    I found a Medela version – again not the kind of style of bag I was after – but we were getting on the right track. I widened my search to America as they seem to have all the latest baby products so surely they must have something like this available, so I changed my Google search from ‘Breast pump Work Bag’ to Breast pump Nursing Work Bag’ to include US sites that most often refer to breastfeeding as nursing. I also switched to image view instead of website view to see just what kind of options were out there.

    I couldn’t believe it – there was such a thing. I had a look on the websites attached to some of the images and then decided to contact the the one that offered the closest match to my personal style. I soon realised through emails that Sarah – a mum herself, had created this bag out of her own personal need for such an item. The actual bag itself was even named after her Daughter - Maddy. I explained my predicament of returning to work, having no access to such a bag here in the UK, and we soon realised a potential opportunity for the UK market. Sarah offered to ship a few of her bags to Amazon EU to allow international shipping to the UK.

    Shipping from the US is not an easy task, and I was so eager to get my hands on this beauty that by the time it arrived I was truly beside myself. At first I had to return to work using my usual work bag, along with a toiletry bag for my breast pump and a separate carrier bag for lunch items, this was such a chore, and did make expressing that little bit more challenging. For the first couple of months, I looked ridiculous walking into work with all these separate bags, but I just didn’t want my breast pump items sitting amongst my personal items – or lunch for that matter. The moment I knew the bag was on its way I was so excited, and even more so when it arrived. It arrived nicely packed out and protected, and I made short work of transferring everything over.

    The bag is organised so that you have two external side pockets and one large main compartment inside the bag, along with an internal zipped section for personal items, and a padded compartment for items such as mobile phone, tablet, kindle etc. When the side pockets are in use it has a way of using internal space – yet if unused, the pockets simply flatten and you gain internal space – Clever!
    The bag is made from a wipe able man made material with leather like look and feel; the colour is black with tan trim – meaning it will literally work with any outfit. It has silver hardware, double zips, and metal feet under the bag to save scuffs when placing the bag down. It is finished with a small embossed Sarah Wells logo on the front.

    All in all I love this bag, you can express with your breast pump motor still sitting in the pocket, the side pockets are insulated so you can even keep your milk in there *although I still tend to store milk in a fridge where available* and all personal items can be kept separate. What’s even better is this bag would also work as a changing bag as the exterior and interior fabric wipe clean.
    Now my little girl has just turned One, I have found I am no longer needing to express as often as her demand for feeds have dropped, however this bag has not left my arm despite me removing my breast pump items now.

    This is certainly a bag that will take you from your breastfeeding journey to beyond, and nobody would be none the wiser as to what you are carrying. To prove a point a colleague commented on my bag and how lovely it was.

    I tested the bag with various breast pumps that I own to check for size, both my Avent Single Electric Breast Pump and storage containers fitted in well, as well as my Single Electric Medela Swing Breast pump. I also have two separate hand pumps (Tommee Tippee and Avent) which also worked. The Tommee TIppee single electric is a very similar size to the Medela so I know this would also fit in. I have not tried any double pumps - but there was still space in one pocket so they should fit in easily also.

    The bag does seem a little on the expensive side when you initially think of what it is - a pumping bag, but it has made my life so much easier when expressing, and it isn't 'just a pump bag' it is so much more, I also know that this bag will last me through my potential breastfeeding journey with future babies.

    Well done Sarah on creating such an amazing bag."