Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pump it up

Dear Other Pumping Mom,

We have only crossed paths a couple of times, those times when I couldn't get away from my desk and my every three hour routine had been disrupted. When I rounded the corner to find the door to the lactation room closed, the "in use" sign engaged and heard that steady grind of the pump through the closed door. Luckily, I could take advantage of the empty room next door and on those few occasions when I heard you leaving the adjacent room, I was tempted, for a moment, to peek my head out the door and say something like "Hey, I stuff my nips in hard plastic and hook them up to a vacuum too."

When I first got here I wondered if there was anyone else using the room, I checked the mini fridge to see if someone was storing their milk in there, took into consideration if the chair was moved, the door left open or propped up against that "Caution Biological Materials" bucket. Eventually, I started seeing signs of you, a discarded paper towel or two in the garbage can. (Aren't there are a lot of paper towels available there? I wonder if you too, ever took a few extra because you had run out at home and knew you wouldn't have time to stop on the way back, and I mean hey, there are stacks and stacks of them there and clearly there aren't a hundred people using the room and someone is taking the time to restock them, so really aren't they asking you to throw a few in your bag as you close the door behind you?)

I have often thought about leaving a little note on one of those paper towels. I read a book called "Nursing Mother, Working Mother" where all the women at IBM who were using the same room to pump would write little notes back and forth to each other about pumping and working and trying to stay sane. While this book was enjoyable, I decided that my time is best spent checking facebook and playing Bejeweled on my iPhone.

I wonder OPM, what you do while you sit in that chair for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, a couple times a day. Are you one of those moms who slipped a photo in the appropriate plastic covered area on your pump so that you could look at a picture of your child, personalize the experience, help to let your milk down? Or are you like me, who tries to make a few phone calls, even though the reception in the room is terrible, and the constant drone of the pump has a tendency to drown out whoever you are talking to? Do you check your e-mail? Try to read a two-week-old US Magazine that you have folded up and stuffed into that boxy, black bag? (Although magazine reading isn't that doable in there, because the counter is higher than the chair and if you try to put it on your lap it just gets tangled up in the pump tubes.)

Do you lean back and wonder if it is possible to nap in a chair that only goes to mid-back, while you attach your breasts to plastic suction cups and hope that you are producing enough milk? Maybe you are one of those uber-milk moms, where it only takes you five minutes to get five ounces, or maybe you are like me, walking around with your left boob a full cup size or two larger than the "milk dud" on the right, hoping that you pump enough for a full bottle because the baby is 15lbs 14oz and is eying table food with his big blue eyes and you know that it doesn't matter, where, when or what he eats as long as he gets something, but you, like me, would prefer it to be breast milk.

Is this your first child or your third? Have you always worked here so you are accustomed to the lactation room, taking for granted the fact that it is in an actual medical center, is clean, has a door that locks, a fridge, a pillow for your back, a working sink? Or have you pumped in conference rooms hoping no one knocks on a door to tell you a meeting is supposed to start in there in two minutes? With the battery attachment in the back seat of your car? Or in the handicapped bathroom that had just enough of an ick factor to skeeve you out, but had a lock on the door? Have you forgotten your pump yet and had to turn around in rush hour traffic to retrieve it? Or worse yet, gotten to work and realized you forgot the plug, a membrane (it will not work without that little white piece), or even just an ice pack for the cooler?

Are you pumping yourself full of fenugreek and oatmeal cookies? Are you sipping mother's milk tea and gallons of water? Are you wondering why there is so much hair in the garbage can in the lactation room? It is because I am shedding like a dog. (Also, I have been finding some grays. Not cool. The last thing I need to be doing, is putting on plastic gloves and trying to dye my hair over the tub.)

Are you hoping that this is all worth it? That the more you pump means the longer you can feel connected, knowing that your baby is still getting something of you, even though you aren't even in the room with him?

OPM are you as tired as me? Do you find yourself singing "Pump up the Jam" by Technotronics, because lack of sleep and the whomb-whomb sound of the pump have made you insane?

Pump up the jam
Pump it up
While your feet are stompin'
And the jam is pumpin'
Look at here the crowd is jumpin'

Because I am.

I am also grateful that somewhere in this big building there is another mother pumping away and I am not alone.

OPM, perhaps one day I will pass you in the hallway, our black bags a telltale sign of the connection we share. Perhaps I will give you a knowing grin, maybe we will nod heads in awknowledgement of our shared experience but until then, if you get a chance, leave me a note, there are plenty of paper towels in the lactation room if you are looking for something to write on.

Yours in all things boob related,


  1. Bean -
    I hope you get to meet the OPM - she would be lucky ot have you for a friend!

  2. I feel you. At work I use private rooms, handicap bathrooms, empty conference rooms, people's offices who are at lunch, copy centers, really anywhere I can to pump. Although the circumstances are a little different. Natch.