Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Got Milk?

This is a post in which I will describe my milking machine, so be forewarned!

I am a working, nursing mother. This means that each day I am at work, I have to retreat into some sort of cave and hook myself up to a pump. I call it my milking machine. When I was still pregnant and didn't think much about such things, Corey's cousin offered me her $300 breast pump since she was done having kids. "Sure," I said, noncommittally, "Whatever."

If you are not a working, nursing mother (or nursing mother in circumstances which necessitate pumping), you have no idea, none at all, what it means to invest in an electronic double breast pump. You just don't stop to think about the fact that once every three hours or so? You are going to have to milk yourself. Like a cow. It even makes little moo sounds, like WHEEEEE! hunh, WHEEEEE! hunh...WHEEE! hunh...

I feel darn lucky now that Ambika gave us this pump, because it's a good one. Very powerful and whatnot. Good suction.

So I have this milking machine, the plastic things that suck the milk from my boobs, a few bottles, a package of sanitary wipes to whisk the milk drips off the phlanges before I put it all back into my tote bag, a cooler, ice packs, a hand pump just in case, and spare nipple pads. I have to haul all this luggage with me each time I go to work. Then it takes like five minutes to rig it all up. There are plugs and tubes and lids and little white rubber things that always fly off into the bottle or get stuck in the crud catcher in the sink drain...what a mess. It's a whole process, I assure you.

Let's say I finally get myself situated in a chair, shirt bunched up, both tatas hooked into my milking machine. Let's say I am staring at a picture of Miles and trying to make milk come out of my body for this milking machine. I close my eyes, eat my sandwich, and imagine that I have a cuddly baby on my lap instead of the Ameada "Purely Yours" milking machine going WHEEEEE! hunh.

At long last, the milk starts to go into the bottles. Sometimes. Only if I've taken 9 fenugreek capsules each day, which makes my urine and sweat smell like maple syrup. The point is that it is damn difficult to offer forth milk to this machine. There's plenty of milk in my body! Wooo boy! It's in there! But it won't come out for me, generally--only for Miles in person.

Last week, I was in the conference room beneath the Writing Center, milking myself. Conditions were ideal. I was two squares away from finishing the Thursday NY Times crossword, an accomplishment in itself, and about 3.5 ounces into a good bottle for Miles. Yes!!! I thought, This is a good milking session.

All of a sudden, the door to the locked conference room burst open. The dean of undergraduate studies, who has the keycode apparently, came bustling into the room with a few undergrads. There I sat, on the floor, crossword puzzle on my thigh, milking machine all over the place, tubes and bottles and cups and plastic boob-suckers of various sizes at arm's length (depending how swollen my boobs are on a given day, I need different size milking accoutrements) when the DEAN of undergraduate studies was inches away from my milk-spewing nipples.

"Ohmygod I'm sorry," I said. Why was I sorry? I don't know. It came out. "I didn't know you were coming in here."

"Oh, that's ok," she said. "We're using the room for different things." She and the students kept on coming in, hanging some sort of poster. My nipples had, by this point, stopped offering milk. But the machine kept milking. WHEEE! hunh WHEEEE! hunh.

"What ARE you doing, anyway?" she asked as I sat there, mouth agape.

"I'm....pumping my breast milk."


"OH! I had no idea you did that in here."

pause. awkward, awkward pause.

"Sometimes I do," I stammered.

"Hmmmm. Well just let us know when you're done." And she and the students backed out of the room.

Needless to say, there was no more milk aflowing that afternoon. Oh no. I started the long and arduous process of bottling up and cooling my milk, disconnecting my hoses, sanitizing my utter-pumps, packing up. Breastmilk was dripping everywhere, all over my pants, and I kept trying to wring it into a bottle, because every drop counts!!! But no dice. I was in such a snit. I had to get out of there.

I didn't even make eye contact in the hallway, not with the DEAN who had just seen my H-cup boobs and my milky nipples. Oh no. I just marched back up to work to tutor students for the rest of the afternoon as if nothing had happened.

I haven't had a good milking session since.


P said...


Sometimes only emoticons will do.

Rachel said...

That is a horrifying story! I could feel my anxiety rising as I read your words! You're much braver than I could ever pretend to be!

I took the fenugreek, too...and hated the smell! Seriously? Syrup? Yuck!

Valtastic said...

this is why intel offers "mother rooms" onsite.

i think it's funny... but i don't think i would until months after the situation happens.

what's the problem with maple syrup?

Katy said...

the maple syrup armpits are actually a welcome improvement from the stinky sweaty armpits from lots of stair marching. i spend a lot of time with my face near my bare armpit these days since I nurse miles lying down at night. yay for new smells! but interesting, yes?

Kelly said...

I supplemented with formula so I didn't have to pump at work but I too have one of those expensive pumps and used it often enough. They may be expensive but if you use it...they are TOTALLY worth it

Emily said...

As mortifying as it is, it IS pretty funny :)

You should ask for a "breastfeeding room." The midwives here are all knocked up and got them to turn a closet (not kidding) into one...labeled as such. There's a falling apart couch, a table, and lots of ductwork and utility stuff overhead.