I missed the memo about breastfeeding, backpacks, and life hacks.
When my first son was born, I decided to breastfeed him. No big whoop. I say ‘no big whoop’ now with the benefit of five years of hindsight, because at the time, it seemed like a very big whoop, indeed. All things considered, my #1 son actually had a pretty easy go of it, and because I could breastfeed him, I did. When I went back to work, I dutifully pumped…in my office, in airport bathrooms, in rental cars, wherever. The longer we went without formula, the more convinced I was that there was something kind of magical about my son being exclusively breastfed. My milk supply barely kept pace with the voracious milk demand, but I was never tempted to use formula because I didn’t want to break the spell.
Fast forward five years…#2 son debuts via unplanned c-section, so instead of the cozy baby-on-the-chest moment, he gets whisked off to the NICU while my guts get put back to together. Then, the magnesium sulfate therapy I needed for treatment of pre-eclampsia after the birth left me totally incompetent to care for my baby. My muscles were like over-cooked pasta and I lacked the strength and coordination to even hold him that first night. But some very good nurses held him for me. And they gave him formula. The spell was broken before it was even cast. It made me sad, but there was a big part of me that was really, really relieved.
My relief came from a pretty selfish place. I realized that with my first son, I had derived a lot of ego gratification from the fact that he had been exclusively breastfed. I could do it all…have a baby, be a fancy lawyer, go on business trips, and still exclusively breastfeed. I was the best mom ever. Bullshit. Breastfeeding was just something I could control when, as a new mom, there were so many other things I couldn’t. The combination of ego and magical thinking was powerful and not entirely dysfunctional. But as a second-time mom, I was, I think, a little wiser, and a lot more weary. When my new baby got formula, it forced me to recognize that I couldn’t and didn’t have to do it all. There was some sweet surrender in that.
The great thing about breast feeding is that it isn’t an all or nothing proposition. My sweet little baby gets all the breast milk I can make. And he also gets formula. He’s happy and healthy, and I’m not driving myself crazy. Win-win.
And like the first time around, I am pumping…mostly in a tiny room designated for the purpose, but in Fire Station bathrooms when need be. My constant companion, both last time and this, is my Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump.
See how sleek and fancy it is? No wonder I was completely deluded into thinking I was Angelina Jolie or something. But here’s the thing…after about 10 months of torture, the sleek little backpack began to disintegrate. The actual mechanics of the pump were in perfect working order, but the backpack was falling apart. I had it held together with staples and tape. I contacted Medela about replacing just the backpack, but no dice. The pump itself is actually attached to the backpack with industrial strength Velcro and taking it out is a big no-no, apparently.
When I prepared to go back to work this time around, I wanted to avoid buying a brand new breast pump, since my old one still worked fine. But the the taped-together backpack just would not do. So I thought about my options, searched high and low, and this is what I did…
Yeah, I Caboodled that shit. Remember Caboodles? The pink tackle boxes we all coveted in the 80s have come a long way, and this particular make up bag had just the capacity and compartments to hold all my milk-making supplies. Caboodle as breast pump carrying case, how’s that for a little life hack?