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Business Trip with Baby

September 29, 2015

I needed to travel to Europe for work. But what to do about the little person who relies on me for her food supply?

I saw two options: (1) pump on the trip and come back with a half gallon or so of milk, or (2) take the baby and figure out child care.

First I considered pumping. My sister-in-law Stefanie coincidentally had a multi-stop international trip during which, on my behalf, she asked every security check person about transporting milk. Everyone consistently told her that frozen milk is ok but liquid milk is not, so I’d have to freeze all the milk and keep it frozen until at least my last security check. TSA rules say breast milk is permitted through security, but if security employees don’t know that, getting through might be a headache. And then there’s pumping every 3 hours or so, including on the plane. And then there’s food safety: Most breast milk storage guidelines recommend using defrosted or unrefrigerated milk within 24 hours, so I’d need to ensure adequate chilling over the 18 or so hours of travel time. And then there’s the husband who would have three kids, including the nursing baby, to put to bed every night and get readied every morning. What a logistics nightmare!

So then I considered traveling with a baby. This required child care in Europe for the days I had meetings scheduled. Since we have an au pair who was enthusiastic about the trip I had a logistically simple answer — but it would cost an extra plane ticket. When time came to plan the trip, I explained the dilemma to the co-worker who was doing trip planning. This was unlike asking to bring a spouse or boyfriend in that it wasn’t really optional; I’m my baby’s food supply. He agreed. And when he presented the request to my manager, my manager agreed.

Tesla bought two plane tickets on my behalf: one for me to fly with a baby in my lap, and a second for my au pair to provide child care while I work. I guess my manager really wants me to go.

There seem to be no rules, no guidelines on these sorts of things. Which with good management is a good thing, since it allows leeway to do the non-standard thing if that’s what’s best for everyone.

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