Notes from a New Breastfeeding Mom: Part 7

Making the decision to breastfeed is amazing. But, every journey is different, and none are perfect. Joy shares her experiences in her own words.

 

Making the decision to feed your baby breast milk, in whatever way and for whatever length of time you choose, is amazing. But, every breastfeeding journey is different, and none are perfect. In this ‘Notes From A New Breastfeeding Mom,’ first-time mother Joy shares her experiences in her own words. Her journey, like other moms’, has its flaws and challenges, but it is a real glimpse into the perfectly imperfect experience of breastfeeding. Read Joy’s post Nothing is Stopping This Milk-Filled Lady

 

Why Yes, That is a Makeshift-Refrigerated Suitcase I’m Carrying

Like many moms, I’m a working mom…a working mom who occasionally has to travel for her job.

So even before I had my son Grant, I started to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the first time I would have to pack my bags, kiss my kid, and hit the road.

I knew it would be hard. I also knew pumping and maintaining my supply while gone wouldn’t be a walk in the park either.

So, as soon as my travel was locked in, I started prepping. And obsessing.

I researched guidelines for traveling with breast milk. I picked up some tips online from other breastfeeding moms. I mapped out the locations of pumping rooms at the airports. I even bought a manual pump just in case I was on the verge of exploding and there wasn’t an outlet in sight.

I was completely prepared—except for the emotional part. And, for me, my emotions directly impact my supply—which of course stresses me out and screws with my supply.

Between stressing out about the trip, stressing out about my emotions, and stressing out about how the stress would affect my supply, I was beyond stressed.

I tried to hide it by singing instead. But unfortunately, for some odd reason I sung one and only one song over and over again…“I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas.” And yes, for the record, people in the security line at the airport do give you odd looks when you’re a 37-year-old woman with no child in sight and you’re quietly singing to yourself “I like to ate, ate, ate epples and benenes.”

But I digress.

The day had finally come. I was prepared as much I could be. I had pumping logistics figured out…I’d pump right before I called a cab, go through security, catch my flight, land, hightail it to a pumping pod in my terminal and then off to my first meeting.

I was ready. My plane was not. It was delayed. Then delayed. And delayed some more.

My plan was kaput. I would have to pump at the airport before taking off. But I was flexible. It wasn’t the end of the world. I knew where the mothers’ rooms were.

Now before I go on, I’d like to stop and talk directly to anyone who is in charge of mothers’ lounges. While I greatly (and I mean greatly) appreciate a private room to pump, I encourage you to truly think about the placement of them.

Because why someone thought the best place to put breastfeeding rooms was on the other side of the security gates…I will never know.

So I left my gate. Left the secure area and headed to the lounge.

While pumping and passing the time, I started thumbing through a notebook that was there. It was filled with comments from moms who used the room.

Some had the same complaint as I. Others requested paper towels or a sink. But mostly it was notes from moms to other moms. It was women encouraging women. Praising each other for leaving their gates, for getting to the airport early, for staying at the airport longer, for taking the time to breastfeed.

I gotta admit…it got to me. I’m not a rah rah kinda gal, but in that moment I was.

I was feeling pretty good until I saw the line for security I had to go through, again.

This time, security freaked me out a little. I knew I had to tell the agents I had breast milk and I had to pull it out in front of everyone.

So when it was my turn, I politely called for the agent and asked her where I needed to place my breast milk. The answer to that question (if you’re curious) is inside the loose change bowl.

I held by breath the entire time my liquid gold went through the x-ray machine. I was terrified I didn’t tighten the lids enough. But my fears were for naught…no loose lids, no leaks.

I scooped up my two bottles and the rest of my stuff and caught my flight.

The next couple days were spent seeking out random private rooms while carrying around my soft-sided cooler. I was a sight. But I didn’t miss a pump and my supply wasn’t dipping.

My first post-baby business trip was a success!

The only thing I needed now was to get back home…with 27 bags of breast milk. (Yep, I’m an overproducer.)

How I saw it, I had two options. I could take my soft cooler as a carry-on and hope the TSA agent thought 27 bags was a reasonable amount of breast milk (according to TSA’s website breast milk is allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags…but seriously, what’s reasonable!?)

Or I could take my cooler, pack it with Ziploc bags of ice and bagged milk, and then stuff it inside my suitcase and check it.

After considering all of my options, I went with the latter.

I was feeling good about the situation. I had 27 bags of milk that I successfully collected, kept refrigerated, and was about to deliver to my precious little boy. I only needed to get through security, catch my flight, grab my checked bag, and pump at the airport before catching a cab back home. Three hours is all it would take.

Three hours.

Three hours in my makeshift-refrigerated suitcase.

Three hours of ice starting to melt.

Three hours of my Ziploc bags slowly leaking.

Three hours of melting ice, leaking bags, and my suitcase.

The moment I went to grab my bag off of the conveyer belt, I knew. I knew my luggage was soaked and I had only one option.

I grabbed my suitcase and started walking leaving behind a trail of water—all while quietly singing to myself “I like to eat, eat, eat eeples and beeneenees.”