Lactating can be rough. Never is this more true, in my experience, than when you're presented with the dilemma of where to pump. Is there a private space? A clean space? A comfortable space? A space with an electrical outlet? Much to the chagrin of many of my fellow sisters of the traveling pump, you can choose one, maybe two of those parameters. Finding someplace that covers all four? Impossible. So I wanted to ask those other moms to share the worst place they've ever pumped. You guys, there some doozies.
Even under good circumstances (working someplace with a positive attitude toward breastfeeding and pumping and a designated, comfortable space in which to pump) I despised pumping. When I was taken out of my usual routine? Yeah, pumping became downright awful. Off-site work conferences (do you even have a lactation room, bro?) and child-free weddings were never pleasant.
But the worst place I ever pumped is somewhere I never expected to: the waiting area of the V.C. Bird International Airport of Antigua, in full view of the couple hundred people whose flights had also been delayed. It never should have happened, you guys. I had timed pumping sessions perfectly before I left the beach house, so that I would be able to get through the five-hour door-to-door trip. My completely unexpected three hour delay, however, meant searching the airport for an electrical outlet, draping myself in a large pashmina in a tropical climate, and hoping no one took my shifty body language and the small, buzzing package beside me the wrong way.
But this story is a vacation (literally and figuratively) compared to some of my fellow moms' war stories. Don't believe me? Well, see for yourself:
"Anywhere you have to pump is the worst place, because pumping (at least for me) sucks, but the waiting room of the studio where I work is probably the worst for me. It was my only option in the winter when it was too cold to go to the car. I had to make conversation while 'casually' pumping."
"In a work bathroom. No one should ever have to pump in a bathroom. Now thanks to me and Obama, we have a dedicated lactation room in our building."
Megabus. Loose shirt, turning towards the window, and hoping for the best.
"Worst place was the family bathroom at MetLife stadium during a Jets game with parents (and their kids) banging on the door to use the bathroom. I tweeted about how awful it was and MetLife made it right and now has a pumping room near section 140."
"We were moving from Virginia to Illinois. I could pump inside Dairy Queen, or I could do it in my van. I chose the van. I put a blanket over the passenger side window because that's the side I assumed someone could have an easier time looking in. I was parked in front of an empty field with a hotel at least 100 yards away, so I didn't bother to put anything into the front windshield to block me. I was also wearing a blanket to cover me. Wouldn't you know that some guy decided to walk across the field while I was in the middle of it, stood 10 feet from my van, and he watched me until I was done. It was so creepy."
In the front seat of the car driving to the beach for a bike ride with the husband.
"In the passenger seat of my Honda Civic, on the Mass Pike. It wasn't too bad until everything started smelling like electrical fire from the adapter I was using to power my pump."
"The bathroom counter in LaGuardia Airport, terminal C, after three very full flights got off. I was next to a broken paper towel dispenser and had people waving their wet hands all over me. I also conducted an orientation for 20 new hires and had to pump in the conference center bathroom during each break with all of the new employees. Like, oh hello, I just met you and 20 minutes later you see my boobs."
I went to an NFL game and milked myself into the toilet.
"I pumped at a New York City bar called The Frying Pan with some friends from my mommies group while day drinking. The young women at the table next to us were horrified."
"When I worked at a pediatric doctor's office of all places they thought it would be a great for me to pump in a closet. I had a space to sit on a step stool between the mops and the oxygen tanks."
I pumped at jury duty in a tiny bathroom.
"On a road trip for work, in a van with six other people, including the CEO. Luckily I was in the back row, but had to explain myself once everyone was asking, 'What's that noise?' It was a 12 hour trip and I had to pump every three hours at that point, so I just had to fit it in wherever I could!"
"Hotel bathroom. I was there for a friend's shower and didn't think I'd need to pump. I had nothing when I realized there was no way I was making it home. Ran to the CVS across the street and bought a bottle. Hand pumped into the bottle and popped it into my purse."
"So many airport bathrooms, and in my seat on a long flight."
"In the back of a box truck in a Vallarta supermarket parking lot. With two coworkers up front in the cab waiting for me to finish so we could continue with our pickups. The things we do for our babies."
"It's a three way tie. [There was] an airplane bathroom. My office 'pumping room' was our copy room. It had no lock on it until I was walked in on for the third time by my CEO. [Then there was] also the time I pumped in the men's 'getting ready' room of a wedding and the officiant walked in on me topless and assumed my husband and I were having sex (and told the whole wedding!)."
In a bar, hand pump under a scarf. Worst or best? You be the judge.
"On a busy freeway with lots of big rigs, during rush hour. I was a passenger."
"At hospice when my dad was there for cancer. Most nurses were very nice but it was a constant reminder of not being completely there for either of the people who needed me (dad or baby). It was a very intense 'this is life' moment."
"In the back-most corner of a funeral parlor while the wake was happening. There was no electrical outlet in the bathroom and the director refused to let me use his office. You could tell he said no because he found it gross. You work with dead bodies, dude! You'd better believe that was a one star Yelp review."