You know those days when everything has gone sideways and there’s nothing really left to do but laugh? When you’re pumping at work, life is chock full of exactly those kinds of days.
Since misery loves company, we invited moms who have pumped to share a couple of their most mortifying moments with us:
1. Don’t cry over spilled milk
"I have two [stories] that come to mind, so I’m going to embarrass myself twice.
The first happened early on, so my daughter was maybe four months old and still waking up in the night. I was exhausted. Work was very demanding at the time — I was kicking off our NFL program (my company was a sponsor and we put together a large content program each season) and felt like I was in meetings constantly.
I escaped to pump, and after a couple minutes in, felt my lap getting wet. I looked down and realized I had neglected to attach the bottles to the other side of the tubes. So I was literally pumping breastmilk into my lap. Anyone who says 'don’t cry over spilled milk' clearly has never made this error.
I cried. And then cried some more. And then laughed because what else can one do when sitting in a 'closet' covered in your own breastmilk, at work?!
The second incident happened when I walked in on another woman while she was pumping. She had forgotten to lock the door, and when I opened it, our eyes met, and she was mortified — clearly, so was I — and I kept apologizing and trying to close the door as fast as I could. Moral of the story: Always lock the door. And, always knock."
— Sarah O’Grady, Lenovo
2. “Can I use your fridge?”
"I was at a three-day management off-site to do the annual planning for the next year. While my company normally has pumping facilities, the off-site meeting didn’t have one so I had to make do with a single handicapped bathroom near the meeting room. I was embarrassed enough that I had to excuse myself every few sessions / presentations for my pumping (though I never actually explained to anyone why I was disappearing, a couple women near me noticed me grabbing my large, pumping bag and figured out why).
The bathroom was clean, had a locked door and though it was far from ideal, I made do with the situation. What was really bad, however, was that I had nowhere to store the expressed breastmilk and I had forgotten my cooling ice block which would have normally bridged me during the day if I didn’t have access to a fridge.
I was damned if I was going to let my pumped milk go to waste. My supply was always an issue so there was going to be no ‘pumping-and-dumping’ for my baby... so I walked over to the conference center cafe and basically asked for the manager.
He was a middle-aged guy and when I explained to him I was a breastfeeding mom away from home, without hesitation he agreed to let me store my bottles of breastmilk in the milk fridge with the 'real' milk used for lattes and cappuccinos throughout the day. Problem solved, or so I thought. He even told me that I could keep the breastmilk for both days of my off-site so I wouldn’t have to pick it up at the end of the day and bring it up to my hotel fridge.
At the end of the third day, when I was ready to fly home, I headed over to the cafe to pick up my milk stash. To my horror, the place was closed. There was conference center cleaning staff that was mopping up but nobody who worked at the cafe was still around. When I explained my situation to the guy with the mop, I was met with a blank stare. I finally persuaded him to try to open the fridge where I had seen them put my milk over the past couple days but it was locked.
I was so frustrated I almost jumped over the counter and tried to pick the lock myself. Instead, I persuaded the guy with the mop to look up the phone numbers hanging on the wall and call one of the employees, who was still nearby. After 30 minutes of sweaty palmed worry, someone finally came over to hear my story and then unlocked the refrigerator to free my milk..."
— Jenny Reiss*, SVP
The internet is full of pumping stories as well. This story from StorkNet made us smile (and wince while holding our boobs):
3. Pumped 'til there was nothing left.
"I had to go to work when Hannah was three months old. I was working 45 minutes away from home, two nights a week from 11pm to 7am at a nursing home. One morning, I was particularly, painfully engorged, and I decided I better pump BEFORE driving 45 minutes home. Well, of course, after such a long night of hard work, I was tired. I set up in the break room, because I knew that no one would be in it for about 1/2 hour, and figured I could pump quicker than that. I turned on my electric pump, and started double pumping.
I had my shirt up to my neck, and I had both breasts in the cups, milking me. I was sitting on a sofa, and I thought I'd just rest to help my milk let down. So I thought about Hannah, and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I had been there for THREE HOURS!!!! OMG! It was 10am, and I started pumping at 7am! I had been sleeping and pumping for 3 hours!! I wouldn't be surprised if someone snapped some pictures or something . . . that break room is used quite regularly."