Pumping sucks, literally and figuratively. Who wants to be hooked up to a machine that takes your breast and elongates it inhumanely into a plastic cone which slowly allows your breast milk to drip into little bottles connected to it? Tina Fey was right when she described breast pumps as “Williams-Sonoma Tit Juicers.”
Pumping alone took me at least 20 to 30 minutes each time I did it. Then there was the clean-up of the equipment and the storage of the milk to attend to afterward, so the whole process took around 30 to 40 minutes each time. That’s a lot of time spent hooked up to a machine plugged into a wall and cleaning equipment. That might be OK if that were your sole job as a mother, but since you are either attending to your child or children’s needs at the same time, or working (or both), it takes the process to a whole other level.
And don’t ever knock over your precious cup of collected milk after pumping. I did that a few times in my sleep-deprived state and literally cried. Probably not as hard as my friend who had several months of milk stored in her deep freezer, only to walk into the garage one day and discover the freezer had conked out on her and she had to dump all that milk.
Oh, and the things you will do and places you will go while pumping. One day, my mother-in-law walked into our house to see me sitting on the couch, pumping while I ate cereal out of a bowl precariously resting on one leg, making the bouncer my youngest was sitting in bounce a little faster because she was fussy with the other leg, while simultaneously reading my oldest a book. I also found a way to make my nursing bras hold the breast pump cones so I could grade papers and eat dinner while pumping. One time I even plugged the pump into an outlet at one end of our bathroom with my self-made pump holding bra, then plugged my hair dryer and curling iron into the other outlet, so I could get ready for work and pump at the same time.
I am aware that you can buy breast pumps where you can actually walk around and cook and clean, etc. while pumping, but that will cost you part of your children’s college fund, not to mention therapy sessions for your older children witnessing this bizarre process. And besides, who really wants to cook and clean when you are a walking zombie, just trying to make sure you stay coherent enough to keep your precious offspring safe and maybe teach them a few things while your partner is away at work? But make sure not to consume too much caffeine in the effort to stay awake, or you will go to breastfeeding Hell.
Besides pumping at my house and at work, I have also pumped in a bar. I have pumped in a car. I have pumped on a chair (in a shower), I have pumped everywhere! OK, enough with the Dr. Seuss references, but you get the idea. When you decide to breastfeed your child, you will not always be sitting in a private, comfortable spot. Most likely, you will be doing it on the fly, and it may not be pretty for the people around you.
Take pumping in the car, for instance. Now, I have had several friends pump in the car while they drove down busy interstates in rush-hour traffic as they made their long commutes to and from work. I, personally, never did because I am not coordinated enough and would be lactating all over myself instead of into the little cups. On several occasions, however, I have pumped in the car while my husband or a friend was driving.
One time I did so on the way to a Girls’ Weekend. Because I didn’t know if I could keep my breast milk cold and fresh for my daughter, I decided to toss it out the window. While we were driving down the highway, mind you. Well, it adhered to the outside of my car. As the car sat in the intense sun in the parking lot of the campground where we were staying, the breast milk baked into a nice paste. I had to get my car washed immediately before the paint on my car corroded.
During the Girls’ Weekend, I had to carry the pump around with us in a backpack so I could express my liquid gold and then dump it (since I was enjoying too many adult beverages). In the car on the way home, I learned to pump and then dump my milk at a rest stop bathroom. I’m a quick learner.
In fact, I quickly learned that I hated pumping, but it was totally worth it to be able to provide my girls with my nutritious milk. After all, my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. Actually, I don’t know what that lyric means, so I should probably ask you to disregard the last line.
Related post: 15 Things They Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding