My breastpump has had quite a workout lately. Now that I’m back at work full time and still breastfeeding (almost) exclusively, during those 5 days sandwiched by weekends I pump at regular 3 hour intervals. In other words, when I’m not addressing the needs of my paying clients, I tend to the demands of another customer – the Babe.
Pumping has revealed to me just what a tolerant person I can be (patting self on back). I first got my sea legs in October on a day trip to Boston. I packed up my pump, brought a 4 pack of double A batteries, and headed to LaGuardia. It didn’t occur to me to check with the Boston Logan Airport to see if they had special facilities for mothers and babies; I just assumed I’d have to make do with the handicapped stall. Gross, yes, but I wasn’t ready to give up nursing for one day of hassle. I was delighted to find a clean individual restroom with a table, sink and outlet so I didn’t have to waste my double A’s while pumping my double…well, moving on. I pumped before and after my flights and arrived home with fresh expressed milk (thanks to the Medela freezer compartment) for the Babe’s next day at daycare. At work, I have a similar set up (private room, fridge, etc.), which has made pumping fairly easy to manage. Really, wouldn’t we all get more done if we could hole up in a secret hiding room instead of hanging out at the coffee machine?
But last week was just insane. On Wednesday, I had to schlep to New Jersey (2 hours there + 2 hours back does not a happy mommy make). On Friday morning, I got up at the bright and chipper hour of 4 to fly to Chicago. (Note: O’Hare also has “family” restrooms, which are equipped with changing tables and electrical sockets.) In both instances, I had to ask my client if they had a facility I could use. Thanks to La Leche League and leagues of nursing mothers before me, this is a perfectly acceptable request (and I’ve come to find many companies fall all over themselves to help). And yet, I always feel a twinge of awkwardness. It makes me wonder if they can really take me seriously during a presentation. Of course, I’m picturing them all in their underwear anyway so I guess that makes us even.
The Babe will turn 6 months in a week and I’m debating how much longer I want to keep up these shenanigans. On the one hand, I know it’s a great thing to be able to do (the nutrients, the bonding and whatnot). I’m thankful that despite a pretty rocky start and 5 weeks of pain, that we’ve made it this far. It is also massively convenient not to have to warm a bottle in the middle of the night. On the other, I’ve developed tendinitis in my left shoulder from hauling my pump up and down Manhattan (and up and down the Eastern seaboard!). If it weren't so taboo, I'd take a Motrin.
What's it like to raise a newborn in a 525 sq ft Manhattan studio? I don't know yet but for the next few months I'm blogging about our decision to live small as a means of living a more sustainable (and frankly, more affordable) life. This is an exploration of the coolest new tools to economize on space, ecofriendly baby products and musings on the "less is more" approach to child-rearing.