What's worse than trying to pump at the workplace? Trying to pump on a business trip! Not only are you at the mercy of other people's schedules, you also have virtually no control over the spaces you inhabit, which means you're going to end up pumping in public restrooms - asking wary strangers for the nearest family room and praying it has a working power outlet.
If you're on a car trip - you're invariably carpooling with three guys, one of whom is your boss, and the other two you've worked hard to make them believe you weren't going to quit after having a baby as they automatically assume, no matter what you say.
The last car trip I went on with three guys, I had to excuse myself from our presentation practice 15 minutes before we were scheduled to leave on our 2-hour drive so that I could pump, then worry that they were waiting for me, badmouthing me for ducking out, and talking about what I was up to, anyway. We stopped for lunch before our presentation, and I inhaled my food so that I could sprint ahead to the car to pump again. Instead of waiting a reasonable amount of time (read: longer than 5 minutes, people), two of the guys decided to come on back to the car. I had hopped into the passenger seat to be nearer the car power adapter, and the guy who'd ridden up in the seat actually came to the door to give me grief, not really understanding what I was doing! The other just hopped on in the back and proceeded to talk to me like nothing was happening. I've never been so glad that he was a little deaf! Both guys now installed in the backseat, I've got to figure out how to unhook myself and put everything away discreetly - and quickly - before my boss comes back to take the wheel. He comes back just as I'm putting the last of my things away. He looks at me to ask if we're all set and ready to go. Redfaced but relieved, I say yes.
After the interview (2 hours later), I'm praying that someone wants to stop for soda or chips or something so I can hook myself back up again in relative privacy, even if they come back to the car right away. No such luck. I sit in the backseat, calculating the hours in my head to see if I can wait until we get back and still have time to fit one more pump in before it's time to go home and feed my kid directly, as nature intended. But no. I have to do this in the next hour or my daughter's going to go hungry - either tonight or tomorrow when she runs out of food! Now praying that neither of the guys in front clue in or -- god forbid -- turn around, I surreptitiously get out my supplies one at a time - modesty cape first. I'm all set to go but have to ask the guy in front to plug me in. He acts put out, and I just have to hope that he doesn't make a big enough deal out of it that I have to explain why it's important! And then there I am, surrounded by men I work with, as I'm hooked up like a cow at a dairy, hoping against hope that the whirring and buzzing is much less audible and embarrassing than I think. And 15 tortured minutes later, I have to risk further exposure by unhooking and putting it all away once again. As unlikely as it probably is, I don't think those guys even figured it all out. Or at least they had the decency to act clueless!
The last trip, I got to experience the joy of pumping in airports. Thank goodness for family bathrooms. Damn those family bathrooms with broken outlets! In the second bathroom, the outlet worked, but there was an entire outfit in the trash that smelled like unspeakable body fluids, and the only place to put the pump was a sink that I would normally not touch for any reason. I was beyond all this and covering my mouth with my little girl's pajamas, imagining the phermones "letting my milk down" when the janitor started knocking. He'd wait a minute and then knock again. And again. And again. More and more annoyed. I yelled each time for him to wait, but I didn't really want to announce to all the passers-by the real reason why. When I finally emerged, he looked at me accusingly, knowing I was in there shooting up or getting off or worse. I looked him right back and said, "I was trying to pump in there."
Flustered, he said gruffly, "Someone said there was broken glass in there."
"I didn't see any glass," I said, walking quickly away.
Of all the things to be surprised about in being a new mom, it's the little indignities that are the worst. I thought they'd end with pregancy, then with recovery after the birth. But I think they're just going to continue. Next comes the stage where your kids puke in public places, then when they act badly, and finally when they end up needing public assistance or something.
At least the benefits of motherhood more than makes up for the rest!
Thursday, October 22, 2009