John and I have laughed since the first time I switched it on, that my breast-pump sounds like it’s saying something. John, for some strange and unknown reason, always hears, “Rap-pers, Rap-pers, Rap-pers” (Dreaming of a big break in the music biz, hun?) The word I hear changes depending on my mood or what’s on my mind. As I sit in the designated pumping room at work, most often it’s saying, “Awk-ward, Awk-ward, Awk-ward.”
My workplace has been very accommodating of my right to pump, and even installed locks onto a small library’s door so that I’d have a place to pump in peace and with privacy. Supportive? Yes. Awkward that everyone knows what I’m doing in there? Oh yea. Big time.
Often my coworkers are meeting in one of the conference rooms adjacent to aforementioned library-turned-pumping-room and we have to sort of share the space, separated by thin walls. I can hear their conversation quite clearly so I’m pretty certain, because of the way sound works and all, that they can hear the pump doing its thaaaaang. I’m also pretty certain that the moments of paused conversation on their end include exchanging looks of puzzlement as they wonder… what on earth… and then it hits them. And that’s when I pray that they don’t get a visual. Awk-ward. Awk-ward. Awk-ward.
A coworker calls out to me “Hey, what do you got in there?” as I scurry across the kitchen with my pump, masquerading as the world’s largest lunch bag, on one shoulder and a smaller cooler bag for my milk on the other. Whenever I’m wielding my not so discrete pump in the office, I avoid eye contact of any kind. I awkwardly laugh, assuming he knows. “Looks like a suitcase.” No response from me. Then, “Looks important.” “Yes, it is.” I call out behind me, as I make a bee-line to my pumping room. Head-down. Head-down. Head-down.
I excitedly tell a coworker about the new camera I got for the marketing department. “Want to see it? It’s really nice,” I tell her and before waiting for her answer I begin removing it from the black canvas bag the camera came with. “Are you going to get a bag for it?” she asks me nervously, with a confused look. I match her confusion as we both stare at the bag I’m removing it from. “What? Here. Right here. This is the camera bag.” I explain. “Oh I thought you were keeping it in one of YOUR bags” she says and suddenly it’s clear that she assumed I was storing my new camera alongside my expressed milk. While that would be incredible strange, I will give her this – the cheapo free camera bag did look a bit cooler-ish. Black-bag. black-bag. Black-bag.
As awkward as pumping life is for me as a working momma, that’s offset by how important it is to me that I’m able to continue giving my boy breast milk even when I’m working three days a week. It’s caused me to blush in the office more times than those mentioned here, but so be it. It’s all for my boy. Pump-on. pump-on. Pump-on.
*As an added disclaimer, in case any of my coworkers read this and feel offended in any way, know that you have been great! These awkward moments are guaranteed to happen in any pumping environment, and are probably only awkward because I imagine them to be. Thanks for being so understanding when I lock myself away in your library a couple times a day.