This is the third time that I have reported on the annual two sessions in my career, but it is the first time I have done so as a mother.
When I got the assignment to join the two-week news feast, I had a moment of hesitation, as it meant that I would have no time to breast-feed my 9-month-old baby girl Monica.
Then I came up with my plan. Besides a handbag with pen, notebook, iPad, camera and press pass, I have another bag with an ice pack, milk bottle and breast pump.
As a mother still in the lactation period, every three to four hours I need to pump out breast milk and store it carefully, because that is the main food Monica will live on the next day.
A typical day's schedule is like this: I get up at six in the morning, leave home an hour later, interview NPC deputies and CPPCC members before the plenary meeting, listen to the meeting's reports, join the news conference and ask questions, then write the articles, like all my busy two-sessions colleagues do.
What is different from my colleagues? I pump at lunch time, I pump during the meeting's short break and I pump before sitting down to write.
In addition, I need to take care of my baby after work while feeding her twice during the night.
I believe that breast milk is a natural link between mother and baby, and the best gift for the little angels.
La Leche League, an international charitable organization that gives information and encouragement to all women who want to breast-feed their babies, promotes breast-feeding as an important element in the healthy development of baby and mother.
More working women in China choose to breast-feed when they come back to work after maternity leave.
Different from most European countries, women in China enjoy only 98 days of paid leave, and they come back to work during their lactation period. The heavy workload reduces new mothers' secretion of breast milk, meaning many babies have to drink milk powder in the very early months.
So it is not surprising that one of the national political advisers suggested extending maternity leave to three years.
Jiang Jie, a reporter at People's Daily, is a nursing mother also tasked with reporting on the two sessions.
"There is no special room to pump in my company, or the Great Hall, or in any meeting place, so I need to use the bathroom," said Jiang. "I store my breast milk in the fridge at a cafe in the People's Daily building to ensure my baby can drink it fresh the next day."
I had almost the same experience. It is hard to find a nursing room in a public place, even in the five-star luxury hotels in Beijing - a modern international city.
Before I started writing this log, I was shocked to hear that one woman reporter had to wean her baby from breast milk when she joined the two sessions.
But the lucky thing is, when I got back to work from the 98-day maternity leave, I found a nursing room newly built in my company. New mothers can enjoy a relaxed moment while pumping and share baby-raising experiences together in the tidy and clean room.
During this year's two sessions, I once walked into the Great Hall of the People and the security guard stopped me and asked me to open my bag. He was curious about the liquid in my milk bottle and suspected that it may be dangerous. After I explained, he was stunned and smiled.
I didn't feel embarrassed when the whole queue was looking at me, but proud instead.
Thanks to my lovely Monica, I work more efficiently and love my job more.
(Source: China Daily)
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