Adventures in Pumping
Corpus Christi, TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 2, March - April 1998, p. 55
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
Although I love my work with wayward teens, I dearly wish that I had the means to stay at home with my baby daughter, Mimosa, until she is in school. Since that is not possible for us, I pump milk for her at work, go to nurse her at the childcare provider's home during my lunch hour, and embrace as best as I can the challenge of making sure she is fed my milk exclusively until she is ready for solids. This is not easy, but I want to give Mimosa the best start that I possibly can.
I have never been shy about breastfeeding in public, but pumping milk is something altogether different. It is harder to do it discreetly, especially double- pumping. I have fixed up my office so I can have a little privacy. The arrangement has sufficed so far. However, I have to attend a lot of meetings during my job. This past month, I have needed to use some creativity in finding places to pump.
One day, I was in a building with bathrooms that did not have electrical outlets. I went looking for another place and saw a man leaving his office. I asked him if I could use his office for a few minutes if he didn't need it and mumbled something about getting milk as I looked for an electrical outlet. He said it was okay for me to use his office and helped me find the outlet. I thought he understood what I was doing until I started pulling out my pump and he asked me what it was for. I told him that it was for pumping milk, and he got very embarrassed, promising to knock before entering as he hurried out. Two days later, at a meeting where a large group had to share a tiny, single-person bathroom during a short break, I went looking for an alternative spot. I was pleased to learn that this building had a room that was often used for pumping since the organization employed another breastfeeding mother.
The following week, I was at a two-day conference at a hotel where the bathroom had an outlet and seemed convenient. The only problem was all the staring from the other women in the bathroom. One woman who had been sitting next to me at the conference came up and asked me what I was going to do when she saw me getting out my pump. It seemed like she was merely curious. One mother expressed understanding, and I got praise from a few women. Most of the women asked me how old my baby was, with a dreamy expression on their faces. When I said that she was five and a half months old, that expression vanished from some of the women's faces and they hurried on. I guess they thought such behavior was only good for tiny babies of a few weeks of age.
I feel as if I am the city's poster-mom for breastfeeding-while-working this month. It is hard to overcome the urge to feel awkward and embarrassed at times, but I know that what I am doing is right for me. After all, Mimosa got her milk, and that's what matters.