Friday, October 19, 2007

Pumping 9 to 5 ...

This is my work station at 8:57 a.m.

pump station, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

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.


Jenn said...

wow, you have zero privacy during the day. I would hate that.

Sara said...

Ah. Pumping. I'm still doing it three times a day for Charlotte. Sometimes it starts to feel normal and other times I just wish I could skip it...

I figure I've hooked up to the pump about 1500 times in the last 10 months. Yikes!

Keep it up. I'm right there with ya sister!

Rohini said...

You have to see my options for pumping at my office - it's also the place where I would normally sit to pee. Thankfully, I took six months off and then was able to get by with the stuff that I pumped in the morning and evenings in the relative privacy and hygiene of my own home. The Avent manual one worked pretty well for me...

Redneck Mommy said...

I applaude your dedication. I, sadly, lacked that and once I was back at work switched to formula.

The idea of pumping at work was too overwhelming for my twenty year old mind to handle.

Now at 32, if I had to do it, I'm brazen enough to probably just whip the girls out at my desk.

Mind you, I work alone. In my home. So much for being brazen.

Wishing you success and jugs of milk flowing from your bosom...

Kelly said...

I bow down to your dedication. Truly awesome.


You're lucky to have someplace to pump. That couch and rocking chair look like a dream to me!

I pump at my desk in an office shared by three other people (one a man). We only have one bathroom stall for about 15 women so I can't go there. I am down to pumping only once a day because I just can't take it anymore. And it's so time consuming. It really sucks. A little more privacy is on the horizon for me, but not until the baby is about a year at which time I am going to stop pumping anyway.

He gets formula while I'm at work and breastmilk while I'm home because there is no way I can keep up with what he needs.

toyfoto said...

leeanthro, it really hurts my heart that people don't bend over backward to accomodate a working, lactating mom. It really doesn't have to be such a drag.