Yep, that’s my milk up there (with some of Mike’s thin mints). It’s shocking how much of my day is now spent calculating ounces pumped. I had not anticipated quite how humiliating it would be to pump at work. Because it is. Humiliating. That is not to blame my very nice coworkers at my very nice job, who are providing me with places and time to pump. But it can’t be the same place every time, and it is embarrassing to basically have to say, “I’m lactating, where can I go and milk myself like a cow?” To this office or that one. To the bathroom, where I sat on the floor and cried and tried to think about Atticus, about why I was doing this. I have been walked in on by both coworkers and parents. And I don’t even want to talk about the time we had a fire drill while I was right in the middle of producing all that milk. I am still at it. But I completely understand why people would decide it’s not worth it. It is difficult and stressful and embarrassing. On the days when it is the hardest, I remind myself that I am doing this because of social justice parenting, because it is my way of sacrificing and showing the love of God for my child. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes I just cry instead.
My coworkers and the moms at school have all been incredibly supportive. They see that (oh so stylish) black bag and the thing I carry around to block out the windows, and realization dawns in their eyes. And they smile at me, tell me I am doing a good thing. Relate their own pumping stories. I didn’t have any major problems breastfeeding, so I haven’t needed a lot of encouragement there. But I sure have needed some encouragement on this whole pumping thing. I have made it five weeks. Six more until summer. I am not yet ready to talk about the fall. (I am going to try to make it through the fall. But can we not talk about it yet? Thanks.)
In actuality, the entire experience since those two lines appeared has been more embarrassing than I thought. I threw up in Starbucks in Canada. I ran out of pants that fit. I had to sit in the waiting room of the hospital trying to be quiet about my massive contractions while a little girl kept counting down like she had just seen Ryan Seacrest do on TV. And now? I feel reduced to my levels of milk production.
I am trying to think of all of this humiliation as fodder. For what, exactly, I am not sure. My comedy tour? My speech at Atticus’s rehearsal dinner? My airing of the grievances at next year’s Festivus? Perhaps it is simply for the story of my life, the one that God and I are trying to write together. To help me remember to pass on the kindnesses and encouragement that I have received, to advocate for people who will be in my position in the future. To say, honestly: I don’t like it, and it’s okay if you don’t, either.
I breathe in rhythm with the pump. As I exhale, I think about how it might be refining me, helping me to be a better person. I let that idea settle in my heart. And then I get dressed, pack up the milk, and do my best to live out of that place of softness. Until I have to do it again.