An Ode to My Breast Pump

Surrey has hit the 11 month mark, which means we have a birthday coming soon.  This also means I’ll very, very shortly be done pumping, and be able to start moving towards weaning.  Which, let me tell you, is completely awesome.

While pumping has been amazing for my reading habit, it’s a complete and utter pain in the ass on so many levels:

  • It’s an unwelcome interruption to my work day.  I’d much rather be doing anything besides sitting in a locker room stall while I listen to students bitch about their chef instructors and wonder out loud about that weird noise coming from behind the door over there.  
  • I have to make time before work to wash it out, put the ice pack inside, be sure I have storage bags, etc.  Because I’m already so good at budgeting my time when getting ready to leave the house!
  • Having to drag around a bulk five pound bag anytime I’m planning on being away from home for more than 4-5 hours is less than convenient. 
  • God forbid I forget to put the milk away when I come home from work — hell hath no fury like a woman who realizes she let an entire day’s supply of breast milk spoil overnight.

Despite these daily annoyances, I’m grateful to this dependable little machine.  I’m still using the same electric Medela pump I picked up from the hospital a week after Phaedra was born.  By the time I finish using it for good, that pump will have made it through 28 total months of use without a single moment of grief.  That pump performed just as well this afternoon as it did the first day I brought it home and fired it up — which is more than I can say for my goddamn dishwasher.

Bosch Dishwasher
I wish you could read, so you could see this and know how much I hate you.

I returned to working full-time shortly after each of the girls were born.  Each time, that little pump came with me.  With Phaedra, I was mostly able to keep up with her demand, with the occasional formula bottle when we came up short.  However, Bella, a.k.a. Miss Fussypants, would allow nothing but breast milk to pass her lips, so supplementing was not an option.  In fact, for the first two weeks after I returned to work, bottles were also not an option.  We finally found a bottle she would accept, but never a formula.  This meant that my pump and I had to work overtime to make sure I had an adequate daily supply for her.  If I didn’t have quite enough to last throughout the day, I heard about it when I came home.  No, really — I could hear her from the driveway screaming, as she had been doing for the last hour or so while Rob paced the floor fruitlessly trying to comfort a hungry, stubborn baby.  Therefore, having a non-functioning pump was not an option.  There were several times I had to spend my lunch break racing home and racing back to work to retrieve the one missing piece of my pump left behind on the kitchen counter.

Anytime I had to travel while nursing, my pump was by my side.  I fled flew to New York for a friend’s wedding when Bella was about nine months old.  I did my homework, discovering I was allowed to bring my pump on the plane as an additional carry-on item, since it counts as a necessary piece of medical equipment.  After it passed through the X-ray machine, the TSA officer picked it up, looking at it as if it had personally offended him.  “It’s a breast pump,” I offered helpfully.

“I know what it is,” he grumbled.  He picked it up and trudged over to a table in the corner.  “We have to test it for explosives.”  My breast pump.  I guess I should be thankful, though, because apparently it could have been worse.  Your tax dollars at work, everyone! 

So, old friend, despite travelling all over this great land of ours (or at least a couple of states), and spending lots of quality time together, the end is finally in sight.  I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to use you.  Many women in my position either can’t afford a pump or don’t have jobs that make regular pumping breaks a practical reality, despite what the law says.  You not only allowed me to provide nutritious food for my babies, but allowed me to continue nursing them when I was at home.  You are, quite frankly, simply the best.

Enjoy the permanent vacation, buddy.  I know I will.

Happy retirement.
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11 Responses to An Ode to My Breast Pump

  1. Cindy Ash says:

    1. I love your writing. I wish I could borrow your voice.
    2. Congratulations on saying goodbye to the breastpump! My least favorite part of breastfeeding. Enjoy your liberation.

  2. I thought I could just use that little single-sided pump. Within a few days of kid #1 being born, I screamed in my husbands face, something along the lines of “get that $300 Medela Pump In Style mothuhluvin double pump RIGHT NOW OR DIE TRYING.”
    It was a dream, and helped me through that baby’s weights issues and then allowed me to leave the house without baby #2. That PIS is a Godsend.
    Congrats on being almost done with your boobies!

  3. Awesome. I remember all of these things. Except I pumped in an empty closet at work, where I worked with the chronically mentally ill. Which led to an urban legend regarding “that haunted closet where Joe Q. hung himself.”

  4. momsicle says:

    So that thang has 300k miles on it and no need to call in the warranty. Congratu-frickin-lations! And YOU breastfed and pumped for three babies?! Not many people can say that. Bravo, girl!

  5. Janel says:

    Cindy Ash: Thanks! Free at last.

    Kim: Yeeeeeeah, there’s no way I could have survived with that little single pump. No uh-uh.

    Yvonne: From now on, I am just going to assume that breast pumps are the root of all modern ghost stories.

    Momsicle: Thanks! I kind of want to send Medela some kind of award or trophy.

  6. Sara says:

    Oh, yes…the Pump in Style. Boy, I had an intense love/hate relationship with that sucker. Pun intended. But it saw me through a year of breastfeeding each of my two kids, worked for my sister’s two kids, and my sister-in-law is about to put it to work for her second baby. It’s an amazing machine, but I don’t miss the days of pumping in the bathroom, getting walked in on by the business owner and the window washer, and feeling like a pack mule. My mom grows amazing flowers and always wants to send some home with me. During my pumping days I always turned her down because the idea of *one more thing* to haul into the house was just too much to bear. Pretty good metaphor for parenthood, no? Anyway, congratulations on your upcoming freedom. Enjoy!

  7. Janel says:

    Re: the pack mule thing: totally. If I have to drop the kids off at grandma’s house on my way to work, the amount of baggage that must be loaded into the car is insane. If I try to bend down to pick something up while I’m carrying my pump, I’m in danger of taking out a small child’s head.

  8. But you left out the important part: what does YOUR pump say to you?

  9. Julia P F says:

    Wow you are a champ. I lasted six weeks. The longest six weeks of everyone’s life I sold mine and it was the best feeling ever, seeing that sucker go! Congrats!

  10. Janel says:

    SUburban Snaps: Believe me, that thing is just as happy to be rid of me.

    Julia: lol @ “longest six weeks of EVERYONE’s life”.

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