It's difficult to tell from the above photograph that Friday is "Page Fest" -- a single day in which we produce the guts of at least three days worth of newspapers -- because I am one of the first to arrive. We call the act of production on this day pumping.
And if you look to your right, here, you'll see my work station at 10:30, 1:30 and 3:30 and sometimes 5 p.m. -- The ladies' lounge.
This may be too much information but sometimes the place smells like the monkey cage at the Bronx Zoo. I wish I were kidding.
I'm lucky, though. I've got a somewhat comfortable chair and handy table, as well as the use of a small refrigerator in the newsroom, not to mention coworkers who pretend there's nothing out of the ordinary about a woman returning from the bathroom four times a day clutching a bottle of human milk. I know there are many, many women who make a commitment to feeding their children breastmilk when they return to work who have to lock themselves into washroom stalls and hover above toilets to squeeze out the medically preferred substance for infants.
But even in my more opulent surroundings, this part-time pumping gig feels like a full-time job.
The first few days back I was absolutely frantic thinking I wasn't getting enough to replace what The Champ ate while he was with the sitter. It was a struggle that first week to get a few ounces. When I sat in the same lounge, listening to the whirr of the mechanical suction for Ittybit three years ago I seemed to have an abundant supply, and only required two brief sessions in the ladies loo.
This time, with a manual pump that is supposed to be just as good as the electric, I seemed to be failing to get even a fraction in twice the time.
And yet, this kid, contrary to his older sibling, seems to be eating like a horse. Or a small goat. Or perhaps a bird ... you know, six times its actual body weight.
"Don't panic," I told myself. Just keep at it.
So what if the door opens every four minutes?
So what if the automatic toilets flush mysteriously when the place is empty?
So what if you feel a little like a cow hooked up to an antique milking machine?
So what if you want to run amok, or at the very least sending a strongly worded letter to the Avent people, every time the equipment you dropped $100 on throws a valve? So you have to stop everything twice a session, reset the system and start again. Big. Deal.
Just keep your nose to the gridestone.
And so I am keeping at it. Pumping 9 to 5.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Pumping 9 to 5 ...
This is my work station at 8:57 a.m.