|Breastfeeding Charlotte in Hampstead Heath in April|
Since we arrived in London three-and-a-half months ago, I have been pumping/expressing milk in every free moment I have. While it is perhaps the most unglamorous activities I have ever engaged in, I wanted to make sure Charlotte had enough milk for her two days of daycare a week and enough to last her the ten days I will be traveling. But try as I might, I failed; there isn't enough milk in the freezer. I am absolutely heartbroken over it.
One of the main reasons we ran out of milk is that Charlotte goes through more milk at daycare than I am able to express while she's gone. I think this is due in part to the daycare facility not treating the milk like the liquid gold it is (ie: throwing away half drunk bottles instead of putting them back in the fridge for later) and Charlotte seizing the opportunity to drink all of a ten ounce bottle if it is given to her. I spoke with the daycare (who is generally really great) about being more careful about wasting the milk and there seemed to be a big improvement after that. But not a big enough improvement, as today Charlotte has officially started to drink formula at daycare.
My goal is for her to have at least a couple bottles worth of mama's milk for each day I'm away. As for me, I am going to travel with my breast pump and will have to find time to express milk between rehearsals, traveling and performances. Luckily, I am very familiar with the members of the group I'm performing with and I know that they will be supportive in my efforts. I am going to look into getting dry ice to travel back to London with my expressed milk, but if that is too complicated, I will find a milk bank to donate to. Mostly, I want to make sure that my milk doesn't dry up while I'm away and I don't want to waste any of the milk if I don't have to! (There are milk banks that provide breast milk to families with moms who can't produce milk and/or to families where the mom is ill or has passed away.)
From what I've read, breastfeeding until a baby is six-months is considered a huge accomplishment and is recommended by the World Health Organization. While we have already reached this milestone (I accidentally just typed "milkstone". Haha!) I would like to be able to continue breastfeeding Charlotte until she is at least one. It is just so much better for her brain and general development than formula and I feel fortunate that it has worked so well for us thus far.
Hopefully this first round of traveling will go smoothly as I am traveling again in October, December, March and June (so far). I am working on transitioning my work to London so I don't have to return to the states to work, but that will take some time. Luckily, I already have some positive responses from sending my CV out to some London opera companies! In the meantime, Jason is looking forward to having one-on-one time with our sweet Charlotte and my mom is looking forward to flying out to help as well.
As for me, I know that being away from Charlotte will be difficult, but I am happy and proud to be continuing my career. Singing isn't just a job for me, it is huge part of who I am. It gives me life and makes me a better person. And despite throwing a wrench/spanner into my breastfeeding efforts, I truly believe that it is good for Charlotte to see her mom doing what she loves to do!