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.