As a working mom, I shlepped my breast pump with me every weekday until each of my kids’ first birthdays. That is about 18 months of lugging a somewhat heavy contraption onto subways and airplanes, to company-wide off-sites and film shoots — a $300 piece of equipment with a fashion statement that screamed “Milk made here!” For as proud as I felt for making the effort to continue my babies on breast milk, nothing about the pumping experience, including the emotional stages every breastfeeding mom goes through when she's trying to pump, made me excited about sitting down and actually doing it.
Every mom is entitled to her own feeding practices. Whatever works, right? Since I seemed to be producing enough milk, and the kids were thriving, I wasn’t about to accept the inconvenience pumping twice a day (or more if I was out of town) posed, as a reason to stop breastfeeding altogether. Of course I don’t fault any mother who decides pumping isn’t for her, as I am well aware that it can be exhausting, annoying, boring and even painful. It's just that I'm a Type-A and compulsive about seeing a project through, even if it's a pain. In this case, my "project" was exclusively feeding my children breast milk until they were old enough to transition to other kinds.
It takes a lot to psych yourself up to sit down and pump for an extended period of time, and it’s hard to detach emotionally from the process. Being all business about breastfeeding doesn’t allow for that moment when you lock into an image of your baby and feel all the feels your body takes as cues to turn on the milk valve and let it (for lack of a better word) flow. So, for me, a typical pumping session was about half an hour long, from set-up to clean-up, and these were the 11 emotional stages I had to go through in order to accomplish the task at hand. Sigh.
I may be at the office, but I am providing a nutritious meal for my kid. I’ve blocked out the time on my calendar, charged my phone so I can scroll while I pump, and nothing will stop me. Nothing.
What do you mean the mother’s room is double-booked? I reserved this space for 11 AM and 3 PM every day for the next nine months. I am in the system!
I’ll never be a good mother if I can’t get the suction going with these flanges. It's just, like, a fact.
...Followed By Relentless Self-Consciousness
Everyone can hear me. This motor is freakin’ loud. If I can hear you flush, you can hear me pump. Let’s pretend neither of us is getting a visual on what’s going down in here, OK? Alright, good talk.
Zen out and make the letdown happen. You are the letdown. Picture those waterfalls
There's not enough milk. You guys, there’s just not enough! It’s been fifteen minutes and I’ve only eked out an ounce per side and what in the world is going on? I mean, this wasn't an issue yesterday.
Fear. Just The Most Fear.
I’ll be pumping forever. This is my reality now. This is my life; being attached to some loud, annoying contraption for the remainder of my days.
Dedication And Commitment
Producing this milk is my job! My baby depends on me. I can do this! I am woman, hear me pump!
Topping out at three ounces is amazing! I’m done!
Ugh, but now I have to wash and dry everything. Then I have to put it away. Then I have to drag it home, only to do this all over again the next day. Ugh.
What? A whole four hours before I have to do this again? It’s almost too much!