I haven’t used my breast pump
since 2014, yet it’s still in my closet, collecting dust beneath the formal
dresses I haven’t worn since 2003. Unlike the dresses, which I could
conceivably wear again if I lost 15 pounds and suddenly lived a life of
black-tie affairs, I am never using the pump again. I’m 100% done having babies, and
if an accident were to bring a third child into the mix, I’d buy a new one. A
three-year-old pump just seems gross when it’s part of the food supply chain
for an infant.
Still, I can’t get rid of it.
Nearly every piece of baby
equipment I owned has been passed on to friends and family or donated. Just
after I stopped breastfeeding my youngest, I learned that Medela has a pump recycling program, yet
I still couldn’t let go of that black bag.
I confess to being sentimental.
OK, really sentimental. But sentimental or not, it
makes zero sense that I would cling to a piece of equipment I loathe.
To this day, a glimpse of Medela
yellow (you pumping moms know what I'm talking about) makes my nipples hurt. Members of my extended family are dairy farmers,
so every time I placed those plastic shields on my breasts, I felt positively
bovine. I hated every minute I pumped.
Yet somehow, like the framed
diplomas that line my office wall, my pump bag has become a badge of freaking
honor. I keep it as an accolade for what is, to me, a shining example of
personal perseverance: Being a working, nursing mother twice over.
I despised pumping three times a days for a year.
Screw the multiple master’s
degrees and job title with “Manager” in it. Screw the publication credits. I enjoyed the work it took to get me
those. I despised pumping three times a days for a year.
Yet, I did it.
did it again three years later. That bag and I were constant
companions at work and whenever I travelled. It sat beside me while I pulled my
breasts out in odd places, because, let’s be real, everyone has that pumping story.
So no, I cannot throw away my
pump. At least not yet.
When I saw them, I first thought
of Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton walking around Hollywood with vials of
each other’s blood. But there’s something so beautiful, and—dare I admit
it—painful, about producing breastmilk that makes the creep factor disappear.
Plus, I’m a woman who hangs onto three-year-old milk extracting equipment for
sentimental reasons. Who am I to judge?
My body has only produced two
things more precious than breast milk. I have the privilege to watch them
explore this great big world every day and collect their own little treasures—maps
from the zoo, flowers, rocks and so many crayon drawings. And since they both
seem to be as sentimental as their mother, my house is very full.
So go ahead, keep that last bag of pumped milk or turn it into jewelry. Relish your accomplishment long after
your little ones have moved on to Cheerios and Go-Gurt.