Apologies to the pump

Apologies to the pump

My dear Pump, I’m just not that into you.

You grunt like a pig, you’re a pain to clean and you make me feel like a cow.

As I prepare to return to work part time next week, I’m in stocking mode. Tearful, desperate stash-piling mode.

So every day, dear Pump, for the past couple of months, you’ve been attached to my intimates. Every day, I’ve lugged you out and hooked you up, while my baby points and screams at me in utter confusion as we resume our affair. Every day, I check the clock and have you join me, we do our thing, and I dump my milky gold into a wee little bag, date it, and push you aside.

Three ounces on a good day, less on others.

And that irks the shit out of me, because you’re a lot of work and I need this milk and more of it. I need you to do better. You’re a double electric, and you’re meant to do this job, and yet I feel like the minutes of my life that you suck at my teats is just too damn much teat sucking for the minimal gain.

And so I did what any multitasking woman does and tried to find a way to make you suck less while doing more for me.

I brought in a boob holster, or so I call it. Basically a strapless bra with two holes in it, as you’ve seen, it holds your grunting self to me and keeps you there hands free, so I don’t have to assume the chicken wing-armed position to hold you on while I watch Scandal.

Now, while I watch Scandal, I can also write this blog, with my fingers free to tap away at the keys. Now, while you grunt away, I have the option of doing the dishes, or putting clothes on the line, or, all importantly, eating chips, all while your dangling tubes connect me to you in the pack on my back, grunting, squirting and dripping away.

This, I thought, would be the ultimate in sex appeal- getting some serious shit done around here while expressing breastmilk for my babe.

But as the timer goes, and I sit back down, unhooking you from the cobalt blue Hawaiian flower printed holster thing-a-ma-jig, I come to find, more often than not, that it hasn’t been a good production day for me.

I’ve been coming to find that I’m a better housemaid, but worse milkmaid, since my sweet mother laid down the $39.99 plus tax for this slippery extra small swath of silk with hooks on it.

But being a better milkmaid was the whole fucking point here, so I’ve been feeling frustrated about you, Pump. I’ve been hating our time together.

And you evil thing you, I think you know that.

On the other hand, as I lay down with Millie each day this week for some of our last afternoon naps together before my return to work, I’ve been extra aware of  the relationship my child and I have built.

And breastfeeding, for me, has been our foundation. Breastfeeding, for me, has been a gift. It’s a time where I am guaranteed a moment to sit. A moment to relax. A moment to appreciate the time between my child, myself, and my body.

As her grip on my chest loosens, and her eyelids begin closing at the precise moment her eyes begin to roll back in slumber, I feel her slowing heartbeat against my torso and her slowing suckling at my breast. I sense her deepening rest as her fingers release a tendril of my hair, as her toes stop gripping against my thigh, and her legs grow heavy on my waist.

Time stands still.

Breastfeeding is intimate, and requires no battery pack or nearby electrical outlets. It requires only a free hand, or two, and an open heart.

When I nurse my baby to sleep there is no set amount of time I know it will take to get her to this beautiful state of snoozing, where her eyes vibrate as they reach slumber. There is no guarantee each time I nurse her to sleep that I’ll get my favourite milk-drunk smile, which grants me my permission to pull my breast from her reach, or that she’ll decide this time to keep her hand softly in mine as she drifts away. There’s no promise she’ll keep her arm wrapped around my side- though of course, those are my favourite nursing moments, and the ones that keep me going.

Breastfeeding, amidst the initial bumps in the road, the growth spurts and the teeth thus far, has been our saving grace. Knock on wood, it has been a primarily thoughtless, though thoughtful experience. A primarily beautiful experience. Primarily perfect. 

And just today, while the sun shone in on our freshly changed bedsheets, where my child and I dozed in the warmth, I woke suddenly from my semi-concious state because I finally figured out what my problem has been with you all along, Mr. Pump- It’s that you, amidst email checking, car backseat cleaning and floor sweeping (Yes, I really did all that shit with a pump attached) cannot and will not ever be a breastfeeding replacement. It’s that you, Pump, cannot and will not ever make me feel the way I do as I lay with my baby in the Spring sunshine- yet I’ve come to expect that.

I’m now realizing no amount of money spent on gadgets, no amount of fiddling with a timer and no amount of tweaking the pumping process will ever help me yield the gain I want from you because breastfeeding is not just a science, but it’s an art in which there are no guaranteed outcomes along the way. Sometimes my kid falls asleep right away, and sometimes not at all.

And that’s ok, because no part of babies, or motherhood, or childrearing, is predictable and convenient all the time. That is fact.

Breastfeeding is my gift because it’s my reminder to slow the hell down, if only for just a moment. It’s my invitation to let the dishes sit unclean and truly connect- eye to eye, body to body, with my baby that is changing every week, every day, and every moment, before me.

Instead of multitasking, my task is to just be.

So I am sorry, dear Pump, that for weeks here I was doing the very opposite with you and expecting the same results, for you are, after all, but a loathed robotic, battery powered piece of machinery. It only makes sense, then, that there’s still more pumping to do, because instead of sitting my ass down with you, and thinking of my brilliant baby’s face and drowsy eyelids and allowing the process to take place in a natural way, I’ve been monopolizing you to be something you are not, and will not ever be.

I promise not to fault you for it anymore.

I promise not to watch the clock with you anymore, aim to improve your inefficiencies any more, and I will try not to loathe your very existence.

Because that’s not fair to you.

From here on out, when I’m home anyway, I will toss my holster aside, sit my ass down and let my chicken wing arms fly. I will let the multitasking go out the door and accept you and appreciate you for all that you are and will ever be- just a shitty replacement for my nursing baby, and nothing more.

One Response to Apologies to the pump

  1. As a retailer of all things considered to be helpful for the pumping mother, the end of your post warmed my heart. It’s exactly why some mothers really don’t need to buy a pump when expecting and why the first year (on some resemblance of maternity leave) is so amazing for a breastfeeding relationship to blossom. Though a pump can be tender and efficient it simply doesn’t give you the same sweet dozy eyes, milky dribbles or starfish hands, does it?

    This article may give you hope (or not).

    Best wishes with your return to a full work schedule capacity.

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