When I returned from work after my maternity leave with baby Luke I thought that there would be a room I could use for pumping breast milk. When I asked where the room was I was told, “Just use Jim’s office. He’s hardly ever here so he won’t know.” Um, does it lock? “No.” Determined not to spend my 15 minutes 3 x per day in a stolen room with a chair barring the door this time around, I put a little more effort into securing a room to use.
With two co-worker moms on maternity leave, and another mom-to-be on my side, I managed to get an old office turned into the new “lactation room.” I guess, in the past, other women have chosen to just pump in the bathroom. Other than Kramer with his in-shower disposal, I haven’t heard of too many people preparing meals in the bathroom. Also weird, the men seem to be jealous of our girls-only hideout. One co-worker thinks equal opportunity dictates that men should be able to nap in there. Twice I have knocked on the door to kick out male co-workers who were in there using the phone or the computer. Both times after I knock I get, “Oh, sorry. Do you need this room?” Um, yeah. I don’t even work in this building. If I am knocking on the door, it’s because I need to pump out some milk so my baby can eat at daycare tomorrow.
At IBM in Boulder one mom was stressed her first week back to work and she left a note for the other users of the former janitors-closet-turned-lactation-room. The notes back and forth eventually became a book called The Milk Memos – How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business With Babies And How You Can Too. I haven’t read it but I think the gist is that you need to get support and guidance from other moms. We have our own support system at my office. Some great advice has been posted on the walls. (See picture.) And our notes range from snarky comments about J Lo’s nursery in the latest People to the creepiness of an incredibly lifelike babydoll for the low, low price of $49.99 in Ladies Home Journal, to the fact that we can’t go a day without milk spots on our pants. And when meetings cause my pumping schedule to get all messed up, I know there is always a willing co-worker who will offer to call me on the speaker phone and pretend to cry like a baby to help with let down. (I passed on the offer once I stopped laughing.) It’s important to have a good support system of other new moms who will tell you that a printed skirt makes it impossible to notice a gigantic ripped seam. (And just this morning I was so proud of myself for being able to fit into a 10 year old skirt. A ten year old skirt that is ripped at the seams… not such a feat.)
We may not get a book out of this experience, but I know there will always be something in there to make me laugh, even when I spill 3 ounces of milk all over the desk and and myself. Three ounces of liquid gold. Three ounces of freedom, three ounces of security, three ounces of my baby’s nourishment. Oh, wait, this is about how I didn’t cry. At least I knew that the print in my skirt would make the milk spill totally invisible!
(Oh – and we all know breast milk is sterile, but I stole the Lysol Wipes from C’s desk and used them for cleanup. I attempted to clean the keyboard, but lysol is no match for those cooties!)