I won’t lie. The subject of nursing can be an incredibly personal and touchy topic, as it can certainly make your friends/colleagues (not to mention society at large) cringe in pain and discomfort (hello TMI), and yet, in reality – it really is as natural as saying – “I’m going to the store to pick up some food for my baby.”
Munchkin is now 15 months old, and I’m still pumping (nursing) away… that makes me pretty much part of a very small minority, and I’m okay with that.
I’ve been pumping pretty much right as my son was born (much to my dismay, we started at the hospital, namely because I had to have a C and my milk didn’t come in quite so fast and poor monkey was dropping weight rapidly). Once my milk did come in, however, there seemed to be plenty of it to go around (“liquid gold!!” as one girlfriend termed it).
In the beginning (during the first 1-2 months), I nursed my baby roughly 6-7 times a day, plus pumping 3-4 times, which I usually did right after nursing. To quote my neighbor and fellow mommy, “it was, literally, ALL YOU DO.”
As a working mom, however, nursing became more of a luxury, and pumping became an inevitable reality.
I’ve pretty much pumped everywhere, and anywhere. I’ve pumped on planes, at the gym, in public bathrooms (gross), dressing rooms, airport lounges, hotel rooms, friends' houses, linen closets, the occasional mother’s room at the office (when you’re not juggling the inner-office politics amongst other intense/aggro new mums – more on that another time!), and yes… in the car (both as the driver and passenger). As a matter of fact, a funny picture springs to mind, one of hubs trying to unscrew my fully-loaded bottles, on the Interstate I-75 in Florida, from the Medela Freestyle connector, as though it were a detonating bomb about to go off (yeup it was THAT intense!).
For his part, hubs simply shrugged and said, “well I did NOT want to spill it.”
I can go on and on about the ins and outs of pumping, given how long it’s been and how integrated it’s become in my everyday life. Come to think of it, pumping is literally the ONLY thing that I consistently do every single day, which I can’t say about anything else, not even sleeping.
Between you and I, I wish there would be more of a universal understanding and sensitivity when it comes to the subject (and treatment) of nursing – though unfortunately, it’s rather hit or miss.
Personally, I’ve gotten funny/questionable looks at the airport when I travel with my pump and with my frozen breastmilk in tow (flying whilst pumping really warrants its own post btw – but I touch upon this ever so slightly in my write-up on Turks and Caicos here and here).
Once, I’ve been asked by an airport security, quite incredulously might I add – “But… where’s your baby?” Hotel and restaurant staff give me equally odd looks when I ask them to store my milk while I was in transit. I’ve even had people knock in the bathroom, and ask me “what’s that noise?” (along with other unhelpful remarks). Worst of all? During my recent trip to Mexico (fantastic as it was), I was told, upon coming back via airport security, that I could not bring my breastmilk home with me, on the mere fact that I was not travelling with my baby. All I could remember, at that very moment, was my girlfriend placing a comforting arm on my shoulder, while I sobbed to hubs over the phone, shortly thereafter, over the loss of my hard-earned breastmilk.
Ultimately, I have to say – I’ve been very lucky and have generally felt supported whilst nursing (see here on my features on nursing essentials and nursing fashion).
As mothers, we all make our own decisions about when/if to nurse, and for how long. In my case, I feel like, as long as “the girls” are up to the task, why not treat my Nuke to a little something extra for his own benefit? I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up, to be honest – but I’m going to enjoy it and rock it while it lasts!