Amber has two boys – 3 years and 5 months. She works. She manages an apartment complex. She giggles and bounces. When I first met her many years ago I thought, “No way I’m going to like her.”
To paraphrase (the now defunct) REM, “She is, she is, she is Supermom, and she knows what’s happening. She is, she is, she is Supermom. And she can do anything.”
So in her own words:
I am a breast-pump Olympian. Master of Mother’s Milk. But these are only recent accomplishments.
I remember the day I unpacked my $300 (at the time) top-of-the-line medela hands-free breast pump and stared blankly at the many foreign pieces on the floor. I was utterly perplexed. Oh, how things have changed. Now, I can put that sucker together in record time, one-handed, half asleep and in the dark.
I breastfed my older son until it was time to go back to work, at which point he was bottle-fed. I started pumping breast milk with this handy contraption quite early on, to ensure he would take a bottle when I wasn’t around. I must admit, the hands-free, portable (and very effective) breast pump is an amazing development in the world of motherhood. It provides baby with the ever-important breast milk, while allowing the typically tethered and tired mama a little freedom. But I think there is a line between useful and just plain crazy. And sadly, I have crossed that line. Many, many times.
It all started innocently enough, pumping in the nursery at home, or in the private and locked “mother’s room” at the office. I would slip in discreetly, do my business, store the milk in a little plain black cooler in the fridge and no one was the wiser. Time consuming it was, awkward and embarrassing it was not.
Things seem to have really spiraled out of control with the arrival of my second son. He arrived at the very beginning of what proved to be an incredibly difficult summer, which brought us such joys as tantruming toddlers, seemingly unending thrush, car woes, hospitalized husbands and much, much more. I found myself desperate to fit in a pumping session whenever and wherever I could. I started getting really creative with my pumping locations and my ability to multi-task was untouchable.
Multi-tasking is admirable – in certain circumstances. One day, for example, I strapped that bad boy on and attacked the filthy, daunting the kitchen while filling bottles full of milk. The trouble began when I got a little too ambitious stuffing some unruly Tupperware pieces into a low cupboard. I bent over, forgetting I was still acting as a human dairy, and spilled milk all over my own pants and the kitchen floor. “Shit, shit, SHIT!” I started to shout, but then stopped myself halfway through the rant of expletives, remembering the two sleeping children only one room away. I wasn’t mad about having another mess to clean up but, rather, devastated at the careless loss of such a large amount of liquid gold. Ugh. I should have known better.
And now I do. That was a rookie move.
Since then, I have pumped without my hands-free kit, standing in a hospital bathroom in the middle of the night, carefully balancing everything on my bag hanging on the back of the bathroom door, so as not to contaminate my precious milk with the horrid and dangerous super-bugs that were likely living on every surface. I have pumped:
- while applying make-up to the bridal party on wedding day
- in my car on multiple occasions (once even while speeding down the highway at 80 mph!)
- on a plane
- at hotels
- at a restaurant
- in a locker room
- in the bridal suite at a wedding venue
- most recently, in the “relaxation room” at a very upscale spa where people were attempting to “relax” while I visually accosted them with my offending hook-up and cluttered up the tranquil spa music with the soft rhythmic sound of the pump. Vvvvt. Vvvvt. Vvvvt.
Each time I christen a new location with my exposed breasts, masochistic looking hands-free kit and little ziplock baggies of milk I think, “Wow. This is really a new low.”
Just this evening, for example, I was traveling home from a business trip and had to make it through the stringent airport security with a cooler full of 36 ounces of breast milk in nearly a dozen containers – and no baby! They gave me strange looks and hand tested every single bag of breast milk and both of my reusable ice packs before finally deciding I was safe to release into the general population of the airport.
I am often dismayed to be *that* mom. You know, the one who does wildly inappropriate things with an apparent disregard for any acceptable social norms. The one you see and immediately call your friend to say, “You will never guess what I just saw….” and then both have a good laugh.
How do I do it? I do my best to be appropriate, respectful, discreet and sane. And most importantly, I laugh. A lot.
Like I said. Supermom. And then she’ll leave you with a smile.