Monday, March 14, 2011

I Hate Pumping

I hate pumping. I love breastfeeding, but I hate pumping.

Even when I get irritated because I'm trying to DO something (wash diapers, edit photos, defeat the evil demons of the overgrown inbox) and baby wants to eat AGAIN, I still love breastfeeding. I get to hold my baby, and give him something special. And he usually falls asleep at the boob, and I have a sleeping baby which is the sweetest sight in the world. Even if it means I can't get up to pee when I really, really have to go. (Who am I kidding? Not being able to pee is nothing. I have eight years of classroom-teaching training, my bladder doesn't even notice until it's gone a full 12 hours before being emptied.)

But pumping?


To breastfeed, all I have to do is lift up my shirt, unhook my bra, and attach baby.

To pump, I have to get my pumping bag, take out the cooler of baby milk bottles, attach the bottles to the pump shields, attach the shields to the pump tubing, plug in the pump, loop the rubber-band-dealies around my bra so they hold the pump shields, correctly position the shields on my nipples so my nipples aren't rubbing on the shields on the top, bottom, or sides, then start the machine. WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh... for twenty minutes.

Oh, before I do all that, I have to lock my office door, put a sign outside the door, cover the window with paper -- and that's because my boss is nice enough to let me pump in my office, instead of trekking all the way to the Student Health Center in the other building (which cuts into my pumping time, especially since I have to pack everything up each time; in my office I can leave the machine plugged in, at least, and I leave the tubing sort of draped over the bag, instead of stuffing it all back into its compartment each time).

If I don't pump every 3-4 hours, I tend to get clogged ducts. WHICH ARE NOT FUN. Especially when they don't want to unclog.

Even when I have to stop what I'm doing to breastfeed, I can still DO stuff while breastfeeding. I can still participate in a conversation. Or watch TV. Or even edit photos, or follow Twitter, or chip away at the frighteningly overgrown weedfest I like to call my email inbox. I have to do these things mostly one-handed, but I can still do them.

Pumping at work, on the other hand?

Everything has to come to a screeching halt. While I'm connected to my dairy-farm equipment I can't move freely, because the tubes are only so long and they're always in the way anyway and the bottles may spill and, well, I'm basically topless.

And there's no "reward." When you breastfeed, you are feeding a baby. A sweet, beautiful baby who looks at you and smiles and is happy to be there. When you pump? WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh... (After a while, it starts talking to you. Seriously. But it's just the same word, over and over... and it's usually a word that doesn't make any sense, but it keeps repeating it... and you can't NOT hear it...)

I know my coworkers talk about me. About all the time I'm not working because I'm in my office pumping. (I know because I hear them. And because they tell me to my face. How I'm "weird" because I do "all that stuff" that "regular" moms don't do. I'm not entirely sure what "all that stuff" exactly means, but there you go. Regular, normal moms, even ones who breastfeed, don't do "all that stuff" that I do when I pump. I'm just special, I guess. Or asking for special treatment. Or something.)

So not only do I not want to stop what I'm doing to pump, because it's a pain, but I also don't want to close my door to pump because I know that's right when someone is going to want to ask me something, and I'm going to be half-naked with my dairy-farm equipment strapped on, and I'm going to inconvenience that person by not being available. And, you know, because I'm lazy.

The worst part is that we take the kids on trips and things. And we have one of those trips coming up this week. We're going to be out with the kids all day -- from very early in the morning until very late at night.

And I have to go, as a chaperone, because it's part of my job and because they need lots of chaperones.

And I want to go, because it'll be a fun trip. I haven't seen the kids much lately, and I miss them. I like hanging out with them.

But guess what! I'm going to have to pump, every 3-4 hours, while on the road. Do you have any clue just how royally THAT is going to suck? (Er... no bad pun intended...)

I don't even know exactly how it's going to work: where I'm going to pump. I guess that'll depend on where we are, where we can stop, where there's a sink... There isn't a way to plan, really, so we'll just see when we get there.

But if it sucks this much to step away and "hide" in my little office to pump when we're just sitting around doing paperwork, how much is it going to suck when I have to leave the group of students I'm supposed to be chaperoning to find a hidey-hole where I can pump when we're traipsing across a college campus with our herd of high schoolers?

I guess this is one of the reasons so many moms quit breastfeeding early, huh?


  1. Good job on sticking it out. I do think that's why many women stop BF. It is really a HUGE commitment to consistently pump day in and day out. I've NOT had to deal with regular pumping but I can totally empathize on what a pain in the butt it is. It is much less complicated to just pick your baby up and nurse. Some women have found hand expression to be compatible for expressing milk. Maybe you will be able to hand express on your outing? I don't know if that would be easier or not....

  2. Well put and so good you express it so those of us who haven't had to pump on the job can "get it", have some empathy, and strive to improve the conditions for moms who have to pump at work.

    I'll be thinking of you honey, tomorrow, hoping you find clean enough, comfortable enough places and times to pump. AND -- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and F !! Wow, 3 years!!

  3. This is the best write-up I've seen on what a PITA pumping can be. You are doing an awesome job, and while it's much further removed at the time of pumping, all that work pays off in huge rewards for both you and MonkeyBoy. Maybe while pumping you can tally up all the money you're saving by not buying formula? ; )

    HUGS you're awesome. =)

  4. Hey I thought I had the only pumped that talked..what gives? Seriously it is a pain in the butt and I know I am lucky to have a place near my cube to do it...thanks for reminding me I am not alone and good luck pumping on the road!

  5. This is hilarious. I'm at work pumping now (TMI) and googled funny signs to put on my office door because even with the sign I do have, people still walk in, and found your post. Wee-ooh Wee-ooh! hahahaha