A Fiendish Thing

It’s sitting here beside me right now, clad innocently in black pseudo-leather and looking like nothing much more than a professional case for documents. I know better. This is not a document case, it holds no documents, but rather the paraphernalia of annoyance, an agglomeration of tubes, wires and plastic parts that once assembled serve one purpose and one purpose alone.

The motor is cleverly hidden at the bottom of the case, discreet behind a zippered flap and buckle to hide its true nature. No one would ever know that there’s a whirring little beast hiding within the confines of the oh-so-stylish bag I sling over my shoulder three times daily and carry back into the quiet, dark confines of the training room.

It’s taunting me now, even all zipped up and quiet. “Ha ha, you’re done with me for now, but soon enough you’ll have to haul me out again, get out all my parts and put me together and sit here, staring glassy-eyed at the screen while I suck the life out of you!”

Motherhood has brought with it a wealth of new experiences, some of which I expected from past experience as a baby sitter and through watching other mothers as I grew up. Other things, I did not expect, chief among them, being tethered to this fiendish thing that sits, squat and sullen on the table next to me.

I expected sleepless nights, days spent walking about almost non-stop to soothe a crying infant. I expected poopy diapers and tantrums and bumps on the forehead and the requisite comforting to follow. I expected the sweet smells and the cuddles and little arms held out for me in order to spread drooly “kisses” on my cheeks, nose and chin.

But I never, in my wildest dreams, expected … The Breast Pump.

I’m told that some women, have very good relationships with their breastpumps. Some in fact, feel more comfortable pumping than nursing their children. Clearly, I am not one of them. Getting up at all hours to take care of Vic has been an admittedly difficult thing, but I expected it and considered it to be par for the course: parents of infants don’t get much sleep. So as cranky and crabby as I may get, I don’t mind.

Pumping, as unexpected as my need to do it has been, and as unpleasant as I generally find it to be has been much, much more difficult. I made a choice to commit to breastfeeding Vic exclusively for the first six months of his life. I never imagined when I made that committment, what that would mean in terms of time spent setting up the pump, cleaning out pump parts, chilling milk, and ferrying milk back and forth between work and home.

Vic has started eating solids now. He’s really into food — he seems to have fun trying out every new thing that we give him. This makes me rejoice for many reasons, including the simple fact that he’s happy and hence I am happy. But I also rejoice because this transition to solid food, which starts this month and will continue until he is no longer relying solely on my milk for nourishment, means an end in sight for the constant company of the pump.

I’m glad that I’ve stuck to my guns and been able to give my son, these six solid months of nothing but human milk. I’d do it again too, convinced as I am that that is what has been best for him. But I will not mourn the day when I can finally hang the black case up in my closet (or better yet, sell it on ebay) and say “That’s it, no more pumping.”

I never expected that parenthood would be a walk in the park. But I have to say, hats off to working moms everywhere and especially single working moms. Parenthood is hard enough when you get to stay home and just be Mommy. When you have to work on top of that, or be the sole provider AND Mommy … well, let’s just say, it’s probably one of the toughest jobs on the planet.