Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pump Up the Jam

If you are (or ever have been) a breastfeeding mom who returned to work or stepped out of the house for more than two hours, then you are familiar with this:

The wonderful breast pump, conveniently hidden in a nondescript black backpack so that you can carry it around without advertising that you are only one step away from a dairy cow. This is a necessity for me as a person who teaches high school students who do not need to imagine me hooked up to this thing when they're not in the classroom. They could be scarred for life, so discretion is key.

When I returned to work after the birth of my older daughter, I had to start toting this thing around with me. One day, as I left the building a boy called out from down the hall, "Hey Mrs. Schroeder! I like your bookbag!"

I immediately froze, turned on my heel, and gave him my best narrowy-eyed stare, "Whhhhyyyy?" I hissed. I mean, look at the thing, it's not the height of fashion--was this kid mocking me?!!

He seemed truly taken aback by my response and stammered, "Oh, um, I just, um, think it's cool that you started carrying a backpack."

Poor kid. "Yes. A backpack. It's just a regular backpack. Thank you, Jeff. Run along now!"

In order for me to actually use the breast pump in the classroom I had to do two things: cover up the window on my classroom door and lock the door.

At the end of my first day back to school, I had done both of those things and was hooked up, ready to get pumping when there was a knock at my door.  I quickly covered back up and went to answer it. It was my principal.

"Hey!" he said jovially, "Just wanted to see how your first day back went!"

"Good! Um, I hope you don't mind, but I was just getting ready to, you know, um, pump?" I replied, not sure how to discuss this matter with my middle-aged male boss.

"Oh, right!" he replied."I thought that's what I saw you doing just now! Hey, get yourself some thicker paper! Have a great evening." And he was off, back down the hall, leaving me in stunned silence. That was  what you thought you saw!!! He was always very nice to me, and to this day I can never be sure whether that was why.

On another occasion whilst in the midst of pumping, I had another knock on the door. Whoever it was was just going to have to wait, but they just kept on knocking. I scanned the room and noticed that a girl had left her bookbag on a desk. Eventually she stopped knocking, so I assumed she got the hint and would just come back later. But, no. She had gone to the office and got the Dean of Students to come back with the master key. As soon as I saw the key turning in the lock, I let out a blood-curdling scream, "NOOOOOO!DONOTCOMEINHERE!AHHHHHH!"

There was a pause. And then the Dean stuck his hand in the door in a sign of surrender, calling out, "Ok! No one's coming in!"

Immediately, I was like, Grreaatt!" Because if you were a teenager who came across your teacher doing something in a locked room who had that kind of reaction to someone opening the door, what would you assume? Milk production would probably not top your list of your guesses.

Afterwards, I found the girl (and her two friends, even better!) waiting patiently outside for the bookbag. I explained to them what I was doing while their eyes slowly widened and they silently nodded their heads and high-tailed it down the hall as soon as possible.

No one knocked on my door after that. I guess word got out.

Field trips were where things got really tricky. When I was assigned to be a chaperone on a trip to Ohio University for a Prom Promise event, I thought, No sweat! I can just bring my battery pack and go into a bathroom stall. I had no worries until I realized I HAD FORGOTTEN THE BATTERY PACK! I immediately went into panic mode, imagining my boobs exploding and soaking or potentially maiming those in my path. I frantically ran through the halls of the basketball stadium, looking for an outlet and some shelter from the thousands of high school students swarming around!

Finally, I saw it. A door across from an elevator, slightly ajar. I opened it and saw that is was a janitor's closet, packed with cleaning supplies and equipment. But, there it was--an outlet at the back! I slipped inside, sat down on the seat of a floor buffing machine and got the job done, praying the entire time that whomever had opened this door would not be returning anytime soon.

On the bright side, in contrast, the time I had to pump in the stall of a crowded bathroom during a sorority formal didn't seem quite so bad! Luckily the person puking in the stall next to me drowned out the sound of my pump and no one was the wiser to what I was doing.





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