Ah, breastfeeding. It's the thing many women can do for their baby that no one else can. However, some moms — whether they have low supply or are returning to work or just want someone else to feed the baby for once — get a little help from their friend: the breast pump. Hooking yourself up to one of those machines is far from glamorous and, if you're anything like me, leave you feeling like one of the milk mothers in Mad Max: Fury Road. In fact, there's nothing like breast pumping to prove you're an absolute badass that should be feared and revered and worshiped, or at least fed on a regular basis.
Not long after my daughter was born, I discovered I had undersupply. I was devastated. The nurse wanted me to supplement with formula and work on my increasing my supply in the meantime. I followed the nurse's instructions and did nothing short of everything and anything one could possibly think of. I ate lactation cookies, took supplements, and pumped on a regular basis. It didn't take me long to realize that around the clock pumping was going to be an absolute nightmare. Before I knew it, I'd become an exhausted, weepy milk machine zombie. Then again, I was constantly reminded that there wasn't a thing I wouldn't do or a length I wouldn't take to provide for my daughter, which made me feel like a badass. A tired, exhausted, emotional badass, but one nonetheless.
If you've ever tried pumping, the following moments will be all too familiar. Pumping moms know the struggle, but they also know how strong and determined they are. Bow down, b*tches. When a woman is attached to a breast pump (or not, as a matter of fact) she's a damn warrior and nothing, and I mean nothing, will get in her metaphorical — or actual — way.
When You Figure Out How To Hook It Up, All By Your Damn Self
I decided to take advantage the Affordable Care Act (breast pumps are covered, people!) and get the fancy double pump with all the accessories. (Ooooh, accessories!)
Getting all the bells a whistles seemed like such a good idea at the time, but when I tried to put it together, as a brand new mom, I was pretty overwhelmed. That thing has so many parts, Rube Goldberg would be impressed. Still, I managed, and mastering the art that is breast pump assembly made me feel like a freakin' boss.
When You Walk Around With No Shirt On
When you're pumping multiple times a day (sometimes after every feeding), it doesn't take you long to realize it's just easier to go topless.
Sure, not topless in a "hot way," but that's neither here nor there. I bought a hands-free pumping bra (of the nude, decidedly unsexy variety) so I could distract myself with social media during pumping sessions. I ended up just hanging around in that and a pair of sweatpants all day. When I walked into the kitchen with the breast shields hanging out of my bra, my visiting mother noted, "Nothing like having a baby to make you lose all sense of modesty." I think she meant, "Gain all sense of badassery," but I won't hold it against her.
When You Turn It Up Too High, But Power Through
OK, so the directions tell you to turn the pump up as high as you can tolerate during the letdown phase. I strongly suggest you don't do that.
When the expression phase kicks in, that little pump may pull your poor nipples straight from you bodily. Then you get to walk around rubbing your poor sore boobs. Fortunately, this only happened to me once. I soon realized that a higher setting wasn't correlated with more milk. So, not only can I deal with a machine terrorizing my most sensitive body parts, I can live and learn. Boom.
When You Realize You Can Talk To Machines
Pumping mothers know their breast pumps say crazy things. It's definitely disconcerting the first time it happens, and it will make you question your sanity. If you're lucky, it says something like "time to pump" or "milk milk milk." If you're me, it says "rat poop." On repeat. For the entire session.
Either way, I can now add "machine speak" to the list of languages I'm fluent in. I know, I know. I'm impressed, too.
When You Fall Asleep While Pumping
Your pump likely comes with a warning that you shouldn't operate it while drowsy. Pardon me while I laugh maniacally. Come on, breast pump manufacturers. Have you ever met the women your products are designed for? New moms are perpetually tired. It's part of the job description.
I'm sure it's listed for a good reason, and you should try not to let it happen, but if you wake up drooling next to that whirring machine, rest assured you're in good company.
When You Spill Breastmilk And Manage To Survive The Entire, Heartbreaking Ordeal
This will happen, and I won't pull punches here: it sucks. When that hard won liquid gold inevitable spills, you will be so distraught your first thought will be how to save it.
Can I sweep it back into the vial from the counter?
The answer, of course, is a solid: No.
Other people may not understand why you're bawling, but pumping moms know it is perfectly acceptable to cry over this kind of spilled milk. So, the fact that you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to pumping just proves that not only are moms badass, they're resilient.
When You Take Care Of A Screaming Baby While Simultaneously Pumping
Even with a hands-free bra, I found it incredibly difficult to pump and hold my infant. Difficult, mind you, but not impossible.
Now, I'm not going to say this always happened, or that I was particularly good at it. In fact, there were plenty of times when I had to put my daughter in a "baby container" — a swing, bassinet, or infant seat — and she wasn't always happy to be there. It's a kind of pumping purgatory, actually. You're doing what's best for baby by pumping, but it keeps you from comforting them. However, sometimes the stars would align and I would pump and hold my baby simultaneously. If that's not proof positive I'm a total badass, I don't know what is.
When Someone Walks Into The Pumping Room And You Unleash The Fury Of A Thousand Suns
You're a reasonable person, so you understand that people make mistakes. But when that mistake is walking in on you while you're pumping (at work, especially), you will scream, "Get out!" in such away that said person fears for their life.
Let's be real; new moms just want some damn privacy.
When You Proudly Text A Picture Of Your Pumping Process To Your Partner
Remember before you had your baby and you would send sexy pictures to your partner? Those days aren't necessarily over, per se, they're just few and far between.
Instead, you'll send your partner a picture of the first time you make it to the one ounce mark (or whatever's high for you, because everybody's different) after a particularly difficult pumping session. If they're worth their salt, they won't remind you of the "good old days," but will give you the "atta girl" you've been needing.
When Your Mouth Goes Dry And You Realize You Don't Even Need Water To Survive
I'm just joking. You need water to survive.
It's actually really important for nursing moms to get enough fluids. After all, breastmilk is 90 percent water, and you're losing liquids every time you breastfeed or pump.
When you're a sleep deprived new parent, however, it's easy to forget. I guarantee that the moment you sit down and hook yourself up, you will find yourself without a glass or bottle of water. Don't try to prove you don't need water to pump fluids from your body. Get up and get that water, you breastfeeding mama, you. Trust me when I say, we already know you're a badass.