as a new mom, there are many “opportunities” at which i get “rise to the occasion” to show just how – ahem – great my sense of humor is . . . honestly, since having a child, i feel like i am existing in an alternate world and most of the time i am thinking surely this can’t be real?
well? in this instance, it was most certainly real.
being new at everything right now, i am pretty open to trying out things recommended by the “experts.” and experts qualify as books, grandparents, other moms, friends, blogs, random folks who happen to stop me on the street – yes, i have had 3 of these instances on the streets of baltimore so far . . . one thing i had a clear goal in mind about was to breast-feed my child. i was very eager to give my son all the nutritional benefits, in addition to exposing him to a variety of foods. also, it being free and that it would burn somewhere around 500 calories a day for doing nothing wasn’t bad either (well, ok, these last two may not be working out as successfully as i initially thought, in that my appetite may only be matched by king kong himself).
so, in my acceptance at becoming the sole pipeline of food for my newborn, i did what every working mom has to do and procured a pump and awaited the arrival of my little bundle of joy (ahem – hungry, hungry hippo). little did I know that my son would be a great eater and that my “dairy” was more than willing to rise to the occasion . . . let’s just say that i could feed a small country and will probably be looking into donation banks down the road. (immediately out of womb, our son fed for 45 minutes and then has continued to feed every three hours since. the nurses in the hospital were surprised, as my milk started coming in within 24 hours of delivery [seriously]. apparently this isn’t normal. however, based on my mother’s own experience, neither is my family’s milk factory.)
i mention this because, as my son and my boobs have come to terms with one another’s habits and needs, I am having to come to terms with going back to work and facing my boobs. alone.
thankfully (or so i thought) i got to have a practice run of pumping “in public” because of a conference i had to go to mid-maternity leave. being slightly stressed on the practical aspects of pumping away from home, i did what every other sensible tech-savvy person does – i asked the google.
blogs, advice columns and mommy-themed forums recommended that i call the hotel ahead, explain my situation and they would accommodate me as a new, nursing mother.
being that the conference was at a super swanky hotel in washington, dc, i felt very comfortable doing exactly that. (certainly they would have a private room to accomadate me, right?) so i called ahead and explained my oh-so-normal scenario and the hotel managed to be accommodating, sort of. they recommended their bathroom off the lobby (right next to the meeting areas), which had a great sitting area (but, alas, public) and they also had a private bathroom on another floor. worst case, they would find me a room to retreat to.
on day one of the conference i decided to arrive super early to scope out my pumping area options. and, having never pumped in public before, i wanted to give it a try without an audience and make sure i had my system streamlined. uncertain if i would have time to get to the private bathroom during the conference, I started with the main lobby public restroom.
the receptionist was right. there was a fantastic sitting area, tucked to one side. i could do this.
just as i had everything lined up, bra straps unhooked, suction cups in place, pump turned on, and milk freely flowing . . . guess who walks in?
the maintenance man.
not a fellow, sympathetic woman. no, of course not. i got the i’m-here-to-fix-the-broken-sink-and-chat-while-doing-it man.
worst nightmare realized.
seriously. i’m in my first-ever public state of human cow-ness, happily milking away and i get an audience. i wanted to die. i don’t think my face has ever seen the shade red that it turned that morning. ever.
thankfully, somewhere in my post-pregnancy-idiotic mind, i had made sure that my back was turned to the wall, so he didn’t get to see the horror i was living. and the whole scenario probably would have been much less painful if he had respectfully seen a woman in the womans bathroom (yes, i double and triple checked this, as i thought perhaps, in my idiocy, i had entered the wrong bathroom) and excused himself immediately. but no. not with my luck. he greeted me with a simple “bonjour” and got to fixing the broken sink.
it wasn’t until he was finishing up that he finally noticed the noise my machine was making . . . (by the way, did i mention that i wanted to die) awkwardly looked up and then proceeded to leave the room.
now. you might be thinking “why didn’t you shut the pump off”, or “why didn’t you say something” . . . and these are all really great ideas . . . well, let me put it this way: you know that scene in the horror films where the girl runs up the stairs and your like “she’s an idiot. she should’ve run out the door like a sensible murder victim.” yup. it was one of those moments of idiocy. i was that girl in the flick, just waiting for the killer to come get me. or that deer that just looks directly at the oncoming car . . .
alas. i did survive to tell the tale. and i do believe it has prepped me and new-found bovine abilities for most scenarios as i head back to work.
oh and one more thing – you know what else shocked me about this whole pumping in public nightmare? while i might have frozen still – my dairy certainly did not. it successfully pumped the same amount as always. what can i say – my boobs are all business.