Four Thoughts A Working Mom Has on a “Pump Break” – and One She Doesn’t

“I wish I were at home instead.”

For me, almost one hundred percent of pump breaks at work begin with me trudging through getting all of the necessary paraphernalia set up and woefully lamenting the fact that I have to “breastfeed” a little battery-operated machine instead of being at home with my son. I lament the fact that I’m not in a sloppy mom-bun, gym shorts, and no bra, and that instead I had to put on “grown-up clothes” to come to work today, just so I could sit in a tiny room listening to my electric pump make noises at me. More on that later.

“This is considered a break?”

After the initial grumping and grousing has subsided, I usually find myself passing into the next phase of my pump session – utter disbelief at the fact that this is considered a break. It wasn’t until late in my pregnancy when I was placed on bedrest that I started to really read up on the legal requirements for employers as far as breastfeeding accommodations at work. While I can understand that anything that requires stepping away from work to do personal/non-work things is a break, the term just seemed such a misnomer. Before leaving work to have a baby, a break was sitting around with coworkers as they shared photos of their recent vacations, or funny YouTube videos. Sometimes it included going for a walk around the block for fresh air. Now, a break was sitting in a cupboard under the stairs with a pump and my phone.

“This pump sounds like it’s talking to me…”

Maybe past the halfway point in a pump session is where the hallucinations set in – after I’ve scrolled through my entire Facebook and Instagram feeds, checked my emails, and online window-shopped for basically everything I could ever want to buy for my son. But I could swear that around this point, the strange, honking sound that my Lansinoh pump makes sound a lot like words. What the words are depends on the day, but once in a while, it sounds a lot like “Nope, nope, nope, nope!”

“…that’s all?”

After a good while of zoning out to the song of my breastpump, I expect that in this span of ten minutes that has felt like two hours, surely my cup overfloweth. When I look down into the jar, however, I find that my pumping session has only yielded 3 or 4 ounces. When I first went back to work, pumping sessions yielded so much more, only to taper off a couple of weeks in. Even after religiously excusing myself from meetings and commitments to pump, chugging fluids like there’s no tomorrow, and nursing my son as much as possible when I’m at home, there are simply days where I feel like my body is forcing me to choose between being a professional and being a mom. It’s this times when I have to reaffirm my commitment to doing this – because it’s best for my son, because these are precious months we’ll never get back.

But the one thing I never think is…

“This isn’t worth it.”

In my heart, it’s always worth it. Even if it’s exhausting, even if a good portion of my day is spent in a chair, facing a wall, listening to a breast pump sing me the song of it’s people, it’s always worth it.


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