Sunday, September 21, 2008

Corporate Pumping-UPDATED

Tragic update! 10 minutes after my afternoon office exile with Medela, and my shower curtain plummeted to the floor. Karma for trash talking pumping. I have a broken shower rod on hand, but escaped any public humiliation. I need to find a replacement ASAP.

I know, you have all been waiting for this entry-my ode to Medela. Anyone who is anyone with a uterus that has had a tenant is familiar with a bevy of words that make up the "mommy lexicon," for example, Boppy, baby bjorn, pack 'n play...and Medela. Medela is top billing in the world of pumping. Much like most of the decisions Eric and I made around May 16th, my purchase of the Medela "freestyle" pump was quick and uneducated. For someone who demands primary and secondary sources when making simple decisions such as what kind of laundry detergent to buy, such hasty activity is not in my comfort zone. But, with the pitocin dripping, and the "surprise! you are having a baby tonight!" many decisions were made off the cuff (e.g. Eric purchasing a new camera in the labor and delivery room).

What does a Milky White do? I consulted with the wonderful lactation staff at the hospital, and told them to lead me to the most powerful pump. The hospital pump was great, but I didn't think that carrying around what looked like an IV pole with a gas tank attached would be good for business when I went back to work, so I opted for the ones meant to function outside of hospital walls. I chose the new freestyle because you can double pump, and the pump is not part of any sort of bag. It is about the size of a walkman. (Yes, that's right, I just threw out an old school walkman reference. Do you remember? The pump is even that sort of yellow like the old walkmans. If you were born prior to, say '89, this reference could be lost on you.) I think I could have purchased a small island in the pacific for the price of the pump, but it was a financial blow I was glad to endure.

Well, glad may be a slight exaggeration. Functionally, I am glad for my Freestyle, but glad is the furthest thing from my mind when I think of the act of pumping, which I have to do many times a day. I guess it doesn't help if you consider some of the highlights of the first week or so of pumping:

-being confined to the NICU pumping suite (and by suite I mean dark cave with chairs that reminded me of a hygienist chairs), staring at the same Dora the Explorer dolly with knotted hair and little kid marker tattooed on her face.

-sitting in exile in my bedroom at home while Miles was in the NICU and my visiting family hung out in the living room.

-and the best: pumping in my father-in-law's minivan while looking at houses to buy as I cried with fatigue, embarrassment and sadness that Miles was still not home.

Four months later, "Freestyle" and I have what I like to consider an arranged marriage. Our union did not surface out of an organic love for one another, but "arranged" by the necessities of a working mom who wishes to breastfeed.

At home, pumping isn't terrible as Eric is accustomed to the rhythmic, almost trance-like quality of the pump (and my lack of being fully clothed). He is used to being my lackey, fetching me seltzer or food. And he wants terribly to be part of the feeding process--we decided early on that breastfeeding wasn't his style--his chest is too hairy.

But corporate pumping has a different flavor. I have an office with a door that locks, phew! But I also have a ceiling to floor window looking out into the hallway right where the back door to the hallway is located. Tante Kari came to the rescue, though, and donated a long curtain and rod that I use while pumping. It looks like my office is the corporate shower stall. So, visual privacy has been established. BUT! that darn pump makes a heck of a lot of noise. I cringe every time I press the "on" button, knowing that if I can hear people next to me and behind me in their offices tippity tappity typing, they can probably not only hear the pump motor, but also the milk hitting the bottle. (Too graphic?) I already dislike the act of pumping (it gives me a strange feeling in my is this nervous feeling I get when I eat too hot oatmeal in the morning. Strange, I know), and it is cumbersome and for me, takes a long time to get little results. Plus, I always have to finish with hand expression (Now too graphic?) because it works better than any machine. So, the whole process is quite a trip.

Speaking of trip, the trip from my office to the freezer is always a joy ride, too. I try to be quick and discrete, but I always feel like I have lights flashing on me that say, "HERE SHE IS! Those bottles are filled with freshly expressed breast milk that she recently pumped while topless in her office!" You know, I have a lot of faith in that curtain rod. It is not hard mounted in the wall. It is a spring-loaded, expandable shower curtain (see link for visual) that has been known to slide down the wall with the weight of the canvas curtain. Luckily, never mid-pump, but can you imagine? It would be like walking down Amsterdam's Red Light district. I just imagine I would drop to the ground and crawl under my desk in shame.

One final note in my pumping thesis--bottle cleaning is the pits. I really, really hate doing dishes. I'll swim knee deep in laundry no problem, but dirty dishes gross me out (and that is even when I am cleaning up my own soiled dishes). As stated before, I am not a huge volume producer, so I pretty much use 2 oz NICU volume feeder bottles I was given while he was in the hospital. I would say I have about fifty of them floating around the house. Well, every time I pump I have to clean the pump parts as well as the 2 oz bottles that I just transfer into my Born Free bottles in the fridge. It gets old REALLY fast. I have started keeping a sudsy bowl in the sink with hot water and all natural soap, and toss the parts and 2 ouncers in there, along with any stray nuks that land on the floor. Then I do one massive clean each night. I know, what about a microwave sterilizer? I am not a huge microwave fan, and do not microwave anything but glass. The truth is, hot, soapy water is just as good as a sterilizer or even the dishwasher. The convenience is lacking, but there are fewer chemicals.

So, that's the skinny on pumping. Speaking of skinny, I do have to acknowledge that I think breastfeeding has contributed tremendously to my body's ability to look like it did a year ago. Notice I did not say "get into shape" because, well, I am not.

Much like a fair bit of my pregnancy, I don't "love" breastfeeding, but am amazed by the process and the fact that our boy has thrived so well--see video proof.

Warning: I have some sort of lapse in judgment, or maybe a slight baby "tic" and mimic a monkey screech at one point. Apologies. I couldn't figure out how to edit it out. It is truly hysterical to hear yourself interact with your own baby. Hysterical...and slightly pathetic.


-A quick gratitude for FALL!!! Georgia is gorgeous right now. (Even if it wasn't, I couldn't get out of town as all of our gas stations are EMPTY).


  1. That "BOING!" sound always gives me the same reaction as well. What an awesome video! He's totally interacting and laughing! LET THE BABY FUN BEGIN!

    Now I have to go and read the rest of the blog entry (I always do a "picture walk" before I read your entries...tee hee!)

  2. Oh my, I love him so much. I must have watched that video 5 times. I love that he is smiling now!

  3. Ali,
    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. As I am embarking on my own pumping expeditions several times per day, I wondered if I was the only woman in the world who hates pumping. No one at work told me about the isolation part of it...and pumping while at home alone with baby is practically a joke! You have to hope that the rythmic noise keeps baby sleeping just a few minutes longer.

    I can't believe that Miles is so active already! He's sitting up and everything!
    He looks great and perfectly strong and healthy and I guess that's what keeps us pumping/breastfeeding moms going, right?

  4. It's got to be tough. You have all the disadvantages of breastfeeding and bottle feeding! The hot soapy cleaning method sounds good and sensible.
    That's the first I've seen Miles smile in motion, and it melts my heart! What a cutie!

  5. How funny, I just did almost the same video of Ella (I hadn't had a chance to watch this video yet), and in the exact same Jumperoo. The boppy on the floor is a great idea--Ella's little legs don't reach yet either!