Work things in the rucksack on my back, baby in a sling on the front, arms around her, elbows at the ready, we take on the Circle Line at rush hour. She doesn’t bat an eye-lid. I almost wish she’d cry and shout a bit to warn the other passengers of her presence but she’s too happy.
The day goes far better than I could have hoped. Moo sleeps most of the morning and with a few careful clothing alterations and some sling-origami I find myself breast-feeding whilst talking to my trainees and writing on a flip-chart. Talk about multi tasking! Three hours through and someone exclaims “is that a baby!?”
I succeeded, I took Moo to work with me and did as good, if not a better job than if I had gone without her.
Now I’m not suggesting that we all go taking our babies to work, looking after a little one is tough enough. But it can’t hurt to remind people that it’s ok to combine working and being a mother.
On the train from Cardiff to Paddington I hide behind my laptop and immerse myself in editing the book we’ve been working on for over a year. It’s getting on for four hours since I fed my baby so I excuse myself and go to the loo. It’s pretty filthy in there so I stuff a handfull of tissues down my bra and go back to my seat. I carry on with the editing only now I rustle with every new paragraph.
I can’t see an obvious place in Paddington so making a mental note to find a baby feeding room on the way home I hold out for the next train. It’s a good choice, the toilets are clean and spacious, soothing music is playing and everything is a pleasing shade of purple.
Yes, it was good to express on the Heathrow Express!
Rushing about trying to find a comb I explain to Roo that she has to be good and look after her baby sister while I’m away, I list the people she’s due to be entertained by over the next four days. She’s singing loudly and trying to jump up and down on the bed, Moo is lying next to her having her nappy changed. “Haven’t you explained to her that you’re going?”
I have two minutes before I need to be out of the front door and I’m looking forward to walking across town, alone. I lean over, blowing kisses and it hits me. What if that was the last time? That last rushed 7am half asleep feed, rudely interrupted by me popping a finger in her mouth and bundling her into the crib so I could go have a wee.
I blink back tears and grab my case.
I’d been counting the days to this trip since I found out I was pregnant, this was the end of my maternity leave.
I work from home for an e-learning business, I’m very lucky in that I get to choose my own hours, I don’t have to wash or dress for meetings and I can do most things with a baby attached to my boob. Most things, except for meetings in Romania.
With the exception of a night out, a hair appointment and an interview, Moo has been exclusively breast-fed. She’s just five months old and I’m leaving her with Dadi and lots of cartons of formula. I’m a trained breast-feeding peer-support worker, if I had asked myself for information I’d have told myself that I could express a little every day and freeze it in preparation but I’ll be honest, I really hate expressing. Yet here I go traipsing across Europe with a hand-pump.