Those of you who know me might not be surprised to learn that I went a little overboard in preparing to go back to work.
I had read a recommendation that women who plan to continue to breastfeed when they go back to work are well-advised to have a small stockpile of breastmilk in the freezer. This milk serves as a buffer against variations in the amount of milk you pump each day. Some days you get a little more milk when you pump, some days a little less, and so having a supply of milk in the freezer can help you on the days when you're a little short so that you will always have enough milk for the next days bottles.
I took this recommendation to heart from the very beginning. I started pumping to build up my freezer stockpile within two weeks of bring Bean home from the hospital. At the start, I was a little irregular. 2 ounces here, 2 ounces there. But by the time Bean was 4 weeks old, I was getting up each and every morning (usually around 4 or 5 a.m.) to sneak in a pumping session while Bean was asleep. Some of this milk was wasted as we tried to get Bean to learn to take the bottle, and the rest was frozen away. By the time I went back to work, I had accumulated a ridiculous 258 ounces (or approximately 2 gallons) of breastmilk in the freezer.
My milk stockpile, which is all carefully dated and organized into tuppware containers, takes up about 90% of our freezer space. We've got just enough room left for two ice cube trays and a package of veggie burgers. Husband is exceedingly patient and has not once complained about the fact that we can no longer atually store food in there. Nor does he complain about the fact that we are spending the GNP of a small country on milk storage bags.
Obviously, I went a little bit crazy. But I had heard enough horror stories about women who weren't able to keep up with their babies 16 oz a day habits that I was a little, um, overzealous.
On the bright side, I think that all the extra pumping I did while I was on maternity leave built up my milk supply really well, and that I will not be losing my milk any time soon. I've also never pumped less than Bean is eating during a day, so I'm keeping up with her.
And, as a side-benefit, I can't actually fit a carton of ice cream into my freezer, so it's keeping me out of trouble.