pep talk + reminders

March 8, 2018

1) I am not defined by the # of ounces I can pump.  I am not a lesser person because I find it challenging to feed my baby via the artificial means of a breast pump.  (Nor would I be a lesser person or mother if I could not feed my baby via nursing.)

2) I am being the best mother I can be on any given day.  I am not defined by my children’s behavior, grades, or accolades*.

3) I am being the best doctor I can be on any given day.  I am not defined by RVUs, healthgrades ratings, or “quality metrics” (which by the way, often do not reflect quality in any real way).

4) No one actually cares about my running speed, ab definition, or lack thereof.

5) The messy areas of our home (yes, even post kon-mari) are not hurting anyone.  Genevieve does not care how carefully her clothing is sorted.

6) I am not defined by the # of ounces I can pump.

7) It is okay (and encouraged) to go to bed at 8:30 pm if you are tired.  This is temporary.

8) I am not defined by the # of ounces I can pump. 

9) It is perfectly acceptable to watch episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend** instead of reading highbrow literature if that’s what you are in the mood for.  

10) I am not defined by the # of ounces I can pump.

Okay.  Onward.  And if not upward, then at least through.

* Though I will let it be said that I think they are turning out quite well overall in the ways that matter.
** This show, in my opinion, is as high quality and clever as many of the popular novels out there, anyway.


  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I’m not a physician but I work as a clinician in outpatient healthcare and I relate to #3 so much. It’s so sad that healthcare has reduced us to business metrics. I have so much stress related to my "quality metrics" but I think "I am the best I can be" will be my new mantra about it.

    Best wishes as you finish your first week back at work 🙂 Your baby (and other kids) are loved and will be fine no matter how many ounces you pump

  • Reply TAS March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Sarah – you are amazing, accomplished, funny, smart and kind. You have a whole bunch of fans who show up here and on the podcast because we think you are doing all of this well. Your kids are so lucky to have so much love, and your patients are lucky to have your passion for your work. You are doing more than fine.

  • Reply edith March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    <3 <3 yes!!!

  • Reply Rana March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Hi!! Long time reader and working mom of 2 ( one as old as C and another 8 month old). I went back to work with my second when he was around 2 months old. Pumping (and nursing in general) is stressful, I totally get it! I also find my mind stressing about production and oz numbers. At work I find I can just pump 2.5 MAX 3 oz a pumping session. Sometimes I supplement with one more pumping session 2 hours after he sleeps. But even that I find stressful sometimes.
    But bottom line is no matter what combination we have to use to feed our kids, they are still so loved.

    Also completely agree with you about the quality metrics and online reviews. They are a horrible assessment of quality. As a dentist sometimes I find it questionable how my whole educational career and all the care I put into treating my patients like family can get reduced to a single yelp or google review.

    I love listening to your podcast on the way to work in the morning!!
    Wish you the best with your return to work!!

  • Reply Anon March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Oh ab definition….. hahaha…. you after three kids look way better than I do after one! Give yourself credit girl! I just can’t figure out how to get to the gym regularly between work and the baby and sleep needs. I have surrendered my an definition as a project that future me will tackle. Current me, nope.

  • Reply Stacey March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Hello – I am a long time reader of your blog but have never commented before. I am also a working mom of three kids (4.5 yo, 3 yo and 8 months). You may have heard all you want to on the topic of pumping but I”m still going to throw this out there. I have never tried the spectra but it sounds like it is fairly similar to the medela symphony? I personally do not do well with the symphony or the pisa but with all three of my kids I have used the medela classic for pumping at work and it works SO much better for me. It is a hospital grade pump and an older model than the symphony (it is much clunkier/heavier) but something about the rhythm and suction of the classic just really works (for me). I also do really well with a manual pump (the medela harmony). Obviously it is more effort than an electric pump since you can only do one side at a time but I get way more from manually pumping each side for 10 minutes than I ever would from a 20 minute session with the symphony or pisa. I personally think that it doesn”t matter whether your daughter gets breast milk or formula or some combo of the two and at this point it may be more stress than it”s worth to try different pumps but it seems like some of the stress that you are feeling about being back at work would be alleviated if your pumping output was higher. So I just wanted to bring those two options up since I feel like the symphony is widely considered to be the best pump but I don”t think it works for everyone. Best of luck! You are doing great!!

  • Reply Cbs March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I feel you. My pumping max is 13 ounces but normally 11 ounces. Luckily baby seems to prefer boob to bottle and is loving solids so he tends to just nurse more at night. He fell off his growth line when I went back to work but is now back on it so it seems to be working. Back at work after two weeks of strikes and snow days and I did not miss the pump.

  • Reply Abby March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for your comment on Episode 30 of the podcast noting that “just pumping” 24 hrs per day during travel is not easy or possible for many of us! I had pumping struggles similar to yours with my first two, and ended up taking 7 months of leave with my third to allow me to breastfeed with less stress – not available to most people and certainly not “free”, but I was grateful to have the option. I think it”s important not to set moms up to think they are failing at something easy if they can”t maintain a supply on a pump – it just doesn”t work as well as a baby for many of us.

  • Reply Andrea March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm


  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Sarah you are doing great, your kids are happy and healthy, and you have a full life! It”s only been 3 days back at work,you will find your groove. You”re making it work!

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of our favorite shows. We”re on season 3 episode 4, it is dark!

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