Have you seen the awesome lady with the breast-milk bag dress?

image via  Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via  Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via  Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

image via  Kasey Jones

image via Kasey Jones

As reported by ScaryMommy, artist and mom and two Kasey Jones (<--- click through to see more of her gorgeous work) has released a series of images of herself at the office in what she dubs a "working mother suit," an outfit covered entirely in breast-milk bags. "I created this series to bring awareness to the harsh realities of what it takes to be a working mother," she writes in her artist statement. "Our system does not support new mothers or families during this transitional phase. It was my duty as a social artist to shed light on how taxing it is on our physical and mental health." 

Kasey is heroic. Both for shining this light and for creating such feminist pieces in an art world that's still very often a boys' club.

And -- this is what I hope everyone seeing these pictures takes away from the experience: 

We all have a duty to "wear" our motherhood at work.

Perhaps not in the form of sterile zippy bags, but in more quotidien ways:
- By being un-shy about needing to schedule in pumping.
- By welcoming questions about motherhood from colleagues (especially more junior ones) who are curious.
- By being open about your new-working-mom challenges (the exhaustion, the unhealed scars, the daycare that charges you extra for every minute you're late)...and then also being open about your successes big and small. The stuff you got accomplished simply by showing up. That's what moves the needle on workplace culture for all of us. One ounce and one parent at a time.

How do you wear your motherhood?

The 8 things to pack in your back-to-work bag

Sadly, not your cat. (But how great is this  Loeffler Randall bag ? Founder Jessie Randall is in  my book !)

Sadly, not your cat. (But how great is this Loeffler Randall bag? Founder Jessie Randall is in my book!)

I don't know about you, but I spent an inordinate number of hours of my pregnancy thinking about what to pack in my hospital bag. Then, our baby was born and I spent an inordinate number of hours of my maternity leave thinking about what I needed in the diaper bag every time we left the apartment.

What I didn't think about was my back-to-work bag. But by the second baby, I had it down. Here's your checklist:

1) Pump stuff (if you're pumping). The machine, the tubing, the cooler, the flanges (maybe my least favorite word of all time).

2) Duplicate pump stuff. Yep, you're going to want extras. Because tubing cracks, but your sanity shouldn't have to.

3) Something from home. Pictures are awfully nice. You might imagine it's torture to have to look at your baby's sweet little face on your desk all day, but it will eventually become a comfort, and just part of the scenery, not a distraction. I am also a huge advocate of bringing your "whole self" to work, and this is one easy way to show everyone around you: "Hey, I'm a mom now. But I'm also here and working. I did it. I'm doing it. You can too."

4) Extra clothes. Even if you're not breastfeeding (and occasionally leaking), you will be shocked by how stealthily babies can spit up on you. At no other stage in your career would you find a random stain down your back—hours and hours after your goodbye hug.

5) All of your numbers. These will be in your phone, but unless you're a savant number memorizer, bring a print-out anyway to soothe your paranoia (and mine): Pediatrician, caregiver or daycare, your OB/Gyn, your spouse/partner's secondary number (you know, the one you don't have memorized).

6) Your hand-off memo from back before you left. Thankfully, much of what's on there will be long-ago-taken-care-of ancient history (and it will feel great to cross those things off). But I guarantee there will be something people decided to "wait for her" on. Going through your memo to check for these things will give you something to do right away, and it'll put your mind at ease, too.

7) Something sensory and relaxing. Think: some luxe-smelling lip balm, or a piece of good chocolate. The mindful use of one of your senses has been shown to halt anxious ruminations. 

8) And food, glorious food. I really recommend packing your lunch for at least your first few days back. A) It's a guarantee that you will have time to actually find food. B) If you're pumping you have to eat to make milk. And C) It's just a nice little way to take care of yourself—or, better yet, to have your partner take care of you. It's silly, but nothing makes you feel more together than a packed lunch. If you got out of the house, and got to work, and did it with a healthy, lovely lunch, you must have your act together, you capable woman! Yes, one turkey sandwich can do all that.

Got (extra) milk?

Back at holiday time, stringing up lights in my son's school lobby, I found myself entangled, literally, with a mom I'd never met before, Dr. Katie Kelter. Turns out, we had lots to talk about: A pediatrician and lactation consultant, she's one of the founders of the just-launched New York Milk Bank, a nonprofit that collects and pasteurizes donor breastmilk for premature or critically ill babies. I got all kinds of great advice from her for my book, T5T and when I followed up with her recently, she told me how easy it is to donate—money, obviously (the program helps underserved communities), but also surplus milk. "If any of your readers are lucky enough to have a freezer bursting at the seams with extra milk, they can go to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA.org)  to find out if they're eligible to become a donor," says Dr. Kelter. All it takes is a medical screening and a blood test. Then you drop the milk off at a local depot or mail it (for free) via Fed-Ex. "Your milk is pasteurized and given to premature infants whose own mothers' milk is unavailable," says Dr. K. "You can actually save lives."