After becoming a parent, we acquired new lingo. A whole new vocabulary… swaddle, sleep sack, poop throughs, nose frida, sheet saver, bumbo, etc. But nothing is more odd than all the lingo surrounding pumping breastmilk.
I am an EP (more lingo)- an Exclusive Pumper. Liam is not breastfed (I tried hard for 5 weeks with little success and mounting anxiety). But I found I had plenty of milk, so after a little research, one day I thought ‘I’ll pump four times today and see if I get enough milk for Liam tomorrow.’ And I did. So I did it again the next day. And it worked.
Liam has been solely fed breastmilk out of a bottle for almost 8 months (save 2-3 bottles of formula when I was sick and my supply wavered). It. Is. So. Hard. Tiring. Inconvenient. It’s also unusual to be able to produce enough milk with just 4 pumps a day. So I do it because I can. Many cannot. Most parents pull together a hybrid of any number of feeding choices to help their kids thrive. There’s no right way.
Part of the deal, is figuring out how to live your daily life with at least four 20-25 minute pauses in the middle of the day where you have to stop what you’re doing, grab the pump bag you had to remember to pack correctly with the pump, pump parts, hands free bra, bottles, caps, and a cooler and ice pack- and find a private space to be mostly naked for 20 minutes. Oh and it’s gotta have an outlet to plug the sucker in. (Pun intended 😜)
It can sometimes be impossible. And honestly, sometimes embarrassing. Or maybe it’s just I know other people get embarrassed to talk about it so I feel embarrassed for them.
At any rate, some friends I know have had some horrifically intolerant experiences and it’s unfortunate. What are moms supposed to you? You can’t skip a pump. It’s not just that you’ll be uncomfortable, but more importantly you tell your body that milk isn’t needed and for me, if I miss a pump my supply wanes and I can’t feed my kid.
So, it’s important to me.
I had two experiences in the last two days that were vastly different and it’s incredible how small considerations can mean so much.
1. Intercontinental NYC - very swanky hotel in times sq… I was headed there for a day long meeting and so I didn’t have a guest room. I called ahead to try to arrange a private space for 20 minutes. I was told to use the bathroom. The bathroom. The place where people pee and poop. To make food for a baby. I was stunned and just hung up. Michael was pissed and called to speak to a manager. He got nowhere. Eventually they said the event planner for that meeting would call him back. Nobody did. I pumped milk in a bathroom at one of the nicest and most expensive hotels in one of the biggest cities in the world where an empty space could have been easily identified for a 20 measly minutes.
2. At a day-long meeting at the Capitol Hilton in DC, I stole away to the bathroom to pump- feeling defeated from the day before. I was about half way done when I heard a small voice under the stall, “ma’am are you pumping milk?” (I was given away by the major noise pollution the pump gives off). When I replied yes, she tells me to just come to the executive office and they’ll find me a private space. I could have cried. Next time I had to pump I went to the front desk and the manager just let me use his actual office, acting like it was no big deal. I pumped quickly in comfort and walked away so grateful for the modicum of decency that was offered to me.