I’m just going to say it, I freaking hate pumping. I’m not ashamed to admit it, either. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not even that uncomfortable for me. It’s just a nuisance that’d I’d rather do without. I know some holier than thou mommies will judge me for admitting such blasphemy, but it’s true. They will say that I should feel lucky that I have the ability to pump to feed my child, and maybe they are right on that one. Even so, when I saw these photos of moms smashing a breast pump, a la Office Space, I couldn’t help but think “hell yeah, mamas!”
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind breastfeeding, in fact, I really enjoy the intimacy of it. There is something about breastfeeding that makes you feel so incredibly close to your baby, as close as humanly possible. Pumping, on the other hand, elicits no such emotions. All I feel when I pump is annoyance and stress. The whole process is tedious; the set-up, the pumping (spend the $30 on a hands-free pumping bra if you haven’t already), the clean up. On top of that, you have to worry about what could affect your milk (certain foods, too much exercise, etc.), and whether or not you’re even pumping enough. Unfortunately, for working moms who wish to continue nourishing their babies with breast milk, there are no other options.
When Lily was three and a half months, I went back to work part time. My work schedule requires me to pump twice a day, three days a week. That’s six times a week too many, if you ask me. During my first month back at work I must have been asked “so how do you like being back” over a hundred times by coworkers, clients, friends, and family members. My honest answer was that I enjoyed being back in the grown up world a few days a week, and that my only complaint was pumping. Twice a day I have to excuse myself from whatever project I’m working on at the time and begin the whole pumping process. First, I change into my pumping bra (seriously, go by a hands-free one off Amazon right now!) and layer my nursing cover over me, just in case. Don’t want anyone seeing my poor, swollen boobs being continuously pulled on like taffy. Then I set up the pump and place the breast shields over my sad, tired nipples. I sit there for about fifteen minutes as the machine milks me like a cow. When it looks like my breasts have given all they can give, I remove the shields and change back into my regular bra. I sanitize the necessary pieces and pack it all away. I do this twice a day, in the middle of my work day. There is no sugarcoating it, it’s a huge pain in the ass.
Of course, pumping isn’t only necessary for work reasons. If I ever need or want to spend more than three hours at a time away from my baby, a pumping session is required to make up for the missed nursing session. That leaves me weighing the pros and cons of leaving the house in the first place. Then, if I do decide to venture out, I have to strategically plan where and when I can pump. My thoughtful husband purchased an adapter that allows me to pump in my car for the rare occasion that I’m out and about with no power outlet in sight. Too bad every time I’ve pumped in the car my breasts refuse to do their job. Maybe they are on strike for poor working conditions. Who knows. I just pray that the pathetic ounce or so I pump is enough to keep my milk makers from getting engorged, or worse, clogged.
So, to all the moms who are lucky enough to have milk to pump, but still find the act of doing so incredibly frustrating, I feel you. We are fortunate to be able to feed our children with breast milk, but that doesn’t mean we have to enjoy every aspect of it. It also doesn’t mean that we have to breastfeed. I completely understand why many moms switch to formula upon returning to work. You will not get a drop of judgement from me; what you’ll actually get is envy. I look forward to the day when I can stuff that breast pump into a deep, dark box and bury it somewhere in my garage so I never have to see it again. That is, until we decide to bring baby number two into the world, but let’s get this one through the breastfeeding stage first, shall we.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on pumping? How do you make it more enjoyable, or just less of a nuisance?