When I think back to the first years of each of my children's lives, my breast pump looms large in my memory. I took early to pumping for many reasons: I wanted the freedom it afforded, I was nervous about my milk supply, and once I start a routine I simply tend to go overboard. Thankfully, a hands-free pump meant my life didn't have to be put on hold. In fact, there were a lot of weird things I could do thanks to my breast pump. While some of these things might be surprising,with a little patience and an open mind, you too could be hands-free pumping while having a relaxing bath. No, seriously. I mean it.
When my second son was born, the pump was so ubiquitous that my older son thought it was just something every woman did, regardless of whether she had just a baby recently or 38 years ago. One weekend, my son (who was a 3-year-old toddler at the time) was sleeping over my husband's mom's house and she told him she was going to take a shower. He was so used to my morning routine of shower, robe, pump, he said, "And then you're gonna pump, right Grandma?" (We'll definitely be telling that story to his future prom date).
A lot of my friends with babies talk about pumping like it is a huge drag. While I'm not one to deny them their stories and experiences (because every woman is definitely different), for me, pumping just wasn't a big deal. I found lots of ways to incorporate it into my daily life and, as a result, I found out there was so much I could do while pumping hands free.
Wash And Fold My Laundry Like A Boss
With my hands-free pump safely in its little pump tote bag, I was able to load and wash laundry and then fold it like a boss. All I had to do was place the bag on a counter top and mind the plastic tubing and I could fold to my heart's content.
The only tricky part, of course, was folding bed linens. Those usually had to be put aside for when I was less encumbered. To be clear, I tried, but it often ended up with me getting tangled in my pump tubes or unplugging myself from the pump, or worse: spilling milk over my freshly laundered sheets which was super annoying. Ugh.
Do My Preschooler's Entire Bedtime Routine
Us moms are amazing, aren't we? Luckily my 3 year old, at the time, was so used to me walking around the house with my pump hooked to my hand-free pump bra, that it was no thang for me to wear it during his entire bed time routine.
I'd have that whole situation going during his bath time (while his newborn brother chilled out in his bouncer), a diaper change, while we read a book, and up until it was time to sing a song. It didn't matter to him. I would like to think the gentle whir of the pump helped lull him to sleep some nights.
Enjoy A Cocktail
After my infant was pretty much sleeping through the night, or when I planned on giving him a bottle if he woke up, I'd sometimes pump while enjoying a mini-martini or glass of wine at home.
Of course, those pumping sessions did not result in any saved milk (pump and dump time!) but because I pumped so regularly, my body required a pretty scheduled pumping routine. It felt ridiculous to be holding a martini glass while strapped to a hands-free pump but, then again, the concept of being milked by a machine is kind of bananas anyway.
Play Fetch With My Dog
My dog usually went ape whenever I sat at the counter and started pumping. I don't know if it was the machine itself, or if he felt left out, but his immediate response was to run to his toy bin, grab a toy, and start jumping in circles around my chair. The only way to get him to quit it was to join him on the floor and throw him the damn toy, so I spent a lot of time learning how to play keep away while not getting unhooked from my pump. (Hint: I'm really, really good at it now.)
Bang Out Some Work Emails
Nothing says "all business" like a woman with her nipples poking through a bra with cut outs, writing work emails on her laptop while squirting milk. Well, I was all business all the time while strapped to my breast pump. All I needed was a serious power suit and a withering stare and I'd be shattering glass ceilings left and right with my breast pump bag on my shoulder.
Ah, the picture of domestic bliss, right? I loved nothing more than to know I was providing nourishment and sustenance to my baby while hand-free pumping, and also creating a clean surface for my children to play on at the same time as I swiffered my floors. Tandem pumping and swiffering is an oft-overlooked joy, that I think deserves way more recognition.
Entertain My Baby And My Preschooler With Some Cool Sights and Sounds
I spent many hours on the floor with my kids, dripping an overflowing bottle of pumped milk onto one of their play mats as my baby practiced reaching for rattles and falling on his face, and his older brother experimented with poking him in the eye to see what would happen. And the soundtrack of it all, of course, was the motor of my pump.
My preschooler loved "helping" and giving me updates on when the bottle was full (often too late, hence the overflowing), or to move the switch to the highest, most painful setting when I wasn't looking. These are moments I will cherish forever.
Take Half Of A Relaxing Bath
Being a mom is painful. I mean that in its most literal sense. We are always lifting, carrying, and pushing, which is no picnic on our necks, shoulders, and lower backs (just to name a few of the many body parts that suffer in the name of motherhood.)
My lower back carried a lot of tension and aches in those early days, so sometimes I'd take just a lower back bath and pump at the same time. I wasn't so into experimenting with what would happen should my electronic pump hit the bath water, so I would keep my lower part of my body in the hot bath, and lean out of the water to stay hooked to the pump while I paged through a magazine. Not ideal, but better than no bath at all.