Wednesday I flew into and out of Chicago for an investor event (Excelerate Demo Day!). But working mama challenge #533 almost got the better of me. My alarm went off at 4am so I could catch a 6am flight. But we still share a family bed, so my son Jackson decided he wasn’t happy that I was getting up. I couldn’t spend the time to get him back to sleep because I was riding the line of being incredibly late for my flight. So I had to get my husband up at 4am to help quiet Jackson to keep him from waking the rest of the house (which included my 2 year old daughter Aleka, my 10 week old niece Lyla, and sister & brother-in-laws Katrina & William).
Now I’m running late. Very late. I pull into the parking lot at the airport with 45 minutes till departure. I sprint through the parking lot to the terminal, in heels, while simultaneously digging for my drivers license. Of course the security line is long, which only serves to add to my anxiety level. I get stopped at security because I have an ice pack (I’m still nursing Jackson, therefore I’m pumping, and need to carry a cooler with ice pack when I travel). I’m already frustrated, mostly with myself for running late, but the TSA guy doesn’t help the situation by saying stupid things like ‘where’s the baby?’ (uh, I wouldn’t have to pump if I had the baby with me) and “good thing your ice pack is still frozen or we’d have to take it from you” (really? I don’t think so – ice packs melt buddy, it happens, and you’d spoil the milk if you took it, and if you had any clue how much pumping sucks, you would never want to mess with a mama and her pumped breast milk for fear of losing life or limb.)
So after a verbal scuffle with the TSA guy, I arrive at the gate basically as they’re closing the doors to the plane. At least I made it!
But now that I’m on the plane, I really need to pump before I ruin my only shirt. And I’m trapped between two beverage carts that are taking forever. So finally, the flight attendant lets me get up but directs me to the front lavatory. In the rear of the plane, there are two lavatories, so it goes unnoticed if you take a while. But at the front, there is only a single lavatory. I sigh, knowing that people will be waiting for it to free up and it takes me a full 15 minutes to pump, 20 if you include prep time and cleanup time.
So there I am, sitting on the toilet on flight #533, 8 minutes into the pumping (and 7 minutes to go still), and the flight attendant begins to bang on the door. “Are you okay?” he shouts over the hum of the engine. “Yes” I reply, hoping he’ll leave me alone. “Can I get you anything?” he presses. “Nope, I’m fine, thank you.” I return. I’m thinking please leave me alone now, embarrassed. “There are people waiting out here” he pounds. “I need another 5 minutes” I retort. “Can you hurry it up?” he continues to push.
At this point in the story, you have to understand how I feel. I’m sleep deprived, groggy, stressed out, and embarrassed. But now, I’m pissed because he’s not taking the hint and won’t leave me alone. “Listen”, I yell. “I’m pumping breast milk. Okay? Your stupid beverage carts trapped people in their seats for over an hour, my boobs started to leak, I’m in my only shirt, I’m headed to a big investor meeting, and I HAVE to finish. Okay? Tell the guests I’ll be out momentarily or use the other lavatory”.
Silence from the other side of the door. “Okay” he says meekly.
When I finally finish and exit the lavatory, he’s still standing there. I blush. He blushes, the first passenger in line smirks and avoids my eye contact, and the 2nd passenger in line is a woman and high-fives me.
Great. Can I just go back into the lavatory and hide until everyone is off the plane please?
So I dedicate this posting, Working Mama Challenge #533 to all mamas that have ever had to pump breast milk on an airplane.