Does your office have a pump room? Do you know what I mean by that? In my state, companies with nursing moms in their employ are required by law to provide a private space (not the bathroom) in which to express milk for their babies. So the institution I work for has a room designated for pumping. In theory this is great. The sign on the door actually says “Nursing Mother’s Lounge” (fancy) and the door locks. Honestly, that should be enough, but inside there’s also a cushy chair, a sink with soap and paper towels to wash your hands, some Anne Geddes style baby art on the walls (you know, to help with the transformation of what most likely used to be a utility closet), some pens (for writing the date on your collection bags), and a laminated page highlighting tips for successful pumping. Really, the whole setup is very nice. I feel respected, protected, and supported by my place of work. Unfortunately, I just don’t think the room is working for me.
First of all, the “lounge” (closet) is in another building. Once inside this other building, in order to get to the room I have to walk through multiple doors, down multiple hallways, up multiple stairs (passing by multiple people, who I am convinced can tell what I’m doing there, three times a day/everyday). Tack on all that extra travel time to how long it takes me to pump, and I end up being away from my desk for over half an hour (three times a day!). As an hourly employee, any time spent not working over and above my protected breaks and lunch hour has to be made up somehow. For me this would mean staying later instead of getting home to Hiccup and the Professor as soon as possible, which as much as I like my job is all I want to do once the clock strikes five. Furthermore, once you find your way to this magical Room of Requirement (in this blog, Harry Potter references will not be explained, you’re simply expected to know what I’m talking about), you see that it’s wedged in a little corner right next to… a man’s office (if we both came out of our doors at the same time, we’d bump into each other). While there is a loud fan in the lounge that I’m sure drowns out the sound of everyone’s pump motors, he most likely hears the fan and therefore knows (thanks to the sign) whenever a woman is in there milking herself like a cow (yes, I said that). You know what? Bless him, because I’m sure no one consulted him before christening the closet next door with its new moniker; and the situation is most likely just as awkward for him as it is for all of us new mamas. Whatever.
These are not my only issues though. In addition to the cute pictures of other people’s babies on the wall, there is also a sign-up sheet and a clock. You have to reserve the “lounge” for half hour time slots. Apparently, the women here are a pretty fertile bunch, because the pump room is seeing more business these days than a West Coast zen kids’ swim class. My first time there, I was a bit flustered (naturally) and did not make note of the time or sign-up sheet. Well, tick tock, halfway through there was a knock at the door. I panicked, spilled milk everywhere, let out a warbly “One second!,” cleaned up the milk, threw all my stuff in my bag, and then had to actually open the door and face this other mom upon whose own precious time I had infringed. She was very nice about it. She asked about my baby, explained a little better how the room worked, and even told me to let her know if I ever needed any hand-me-down baby clothes as her son was just a few sizes bigger than mine. Really, that last part was downright saintly. So I signed up for three slots, which I couldn’t help but notice was one more than everyone else had signed up for (am I doing something wrong here?), and got out of there!
It’s been a few weeks. At first, it was working okay, but sometimes I get held up with a work issue and miss one of my reservations. Sometimes the woman with the appointment before mine runs late (leaving me standing outside the room with my pump and my cooler hoping the man doesn’t show his face before I have a chance to get in). Also, the fan in there is so loud, the noise scrambles my brain. Basically, I’m neurotic and the whole scenario is stressing me out to the point that once I’m in there, I can’t actually express any milk. It just won’t come. If you know anything about milk production (human or otherwise), you know that’s a problem. So I’m just going to have to find somewhere else to do this (not the bathroom).