Recently and for the fourth time in my life, I had a baby and returned to work. Sure, saying goodbye to my baby when I dropped her off to the sitter was difficult. Certainly getting back into the busy routine was challenging. Of course having to put on real clothes was an obstacle. But you know what was the worst part of it all? Having to to dust off and and reunite with the ol’ bag pump.
The nursing pump. The bane of working mothers the world over! The blight of dedicated mothers struggling with latching! The burden of moms of preemies! And simultaneously the salvation for all of these situations. Yes, it’s a love / hate relationship with that Black Bag.
I love nursing. I love the sweet, warm, intimate moments of bonding that I have with my newborns! It has not always been easy for me, and I certainly understand the plight of mothers who can’t or even choose not to breastfeed. I’ve had many tearful phone conversations with Lactation specialists, but I still wanted to stay the course. So I invested in breast pumps. Little did I know that this choice about 9 years ago would be the start of such a dysfunctional relationship. It’s like being with a boyfriend, and you both make each other worse people, but you just. can’t. QUIT that guy! Ugh.
Speaking of making each other worse … I need to take this opportunity to issue a formal apology to anyone I encountered during my months of pumping. Yes, this retroactively applies to any coworkers I had during January of 2010. Sure, this applies to any of my administrators during the Fall of 2011. Take your apology, Senior Class of ’15! I’m not going to apologize to anyone who walked in on me in spite of my numerous door signs. Those things were impossible to miss! We had conversations about it. To that one janitor who walked in on three different occasions, you should know that I had a mini panic attack every time you started to put that key in the door and jiggle the handle. Seriously? You had to literally LIFT a stop sign out of your way to unlock that door. No. No apology for you.
But most of all, I owe my husband a sincere apology. He knows I pride myself on my efficiency. I can get innumerable tasks accomplished in a work day. I’m like a machine! So to have to be strapped to one for twenty-minute intervals multiple times a day is crushing. Seriously. I’m stuck. Staring at that bag. For an hour total each day. And I know what you’ll say: I need to go hands-free! But that still makes me nervous. Thank God for smartphones so I can at least handle email! While nursing is sweet, warm, and intimate, pumping is frustrating, cold (literally–those flanges!), and distant. And whatever you do, DON’T think about what you could be accomplishing during this time! The stress of it all will prevent the very necessary letdown reflex. And all of these things make for one very cranky wife.
I get home tired and with an overall feeling of not having accomplished as much as I’m used to, which makes me so annoyed. And it’s hard not to get resentful when my hubby can be-bop through his day, while I have to pump myself dry and chapped. Yikes.
Somehow, though, it’s all worth it when I can nurse that baby again. When I can leave her with a sitter and know she’s satisfied and full. When my husband and I can slip out to enjoy a movie together. Because I owe him that much and a sincere apology for who I am and was while pumping.