It’s a good thing I’m not a modest person. My trip through security on my way to Seattle involved lots of hollering back and forth about my “BREAST PUMP!” and me “BREASTFEEDING!” and confused looks and requests for inspection… and so on and so forth. But I made it through without any real hiccups or drama.
I shoved my Hygeia Enjoye back in my already over stuffed tote bag and made my way to the Starbucks. Standing in line, I heard faint crying noises coming from my bag. Heads turned, eyes shifted. “Oh, it’s just my breast pump,” I smiled, making everyone in line all squirmy and uncomfortable. (The Enjoye has a feature where you can record your baby’s cries to help with let down.) It provided much fun and entertainment for me as it continued to randomly play throughout my wait in the terminal while people, I’m sure, wondered how and why I would be smuggling a baby on board.
While in flight, I had to lug my bag to the butt-crack sized closet known as the restroom on the plane to pump. One quarter turn of my head in there and I was glad I also had my small, manual pump with me. There wasn’t enough room in there for me to take my sweater off, let alone set up an electric pump. Plus, I didn’t even want to know what the passengers and flight attendants would think about the noises coming from within. I pumped out 5 ounces in about 5 minutes, then realized I didn’t bring a cap for the bottle I pumped into and left my storage bags in my checked baggage. I figured if I left the bottle attached to the pump, zipped tightly inside a cooler, and kept it in my bag upright, it wouldn’t be an issue.
Fast forward to baggage claim. I lean over, tote slung across my shoulder (now randomly playing airplane noises, which somehow recorded over my crying baby and, I’m pretty sure, don’t do anything for letdown), and I feel something wet on my arm. Hmmm… that’s strange. I double checked the cap on my water bottle and figured it was condensation.
However, upon further inspection once I arrived at the hotel, I discovered a full 2.5 ounces were missing from the bottle, the entire bottom of my bag was soaked with breastmilk, and I’m fairly certain at least an ounce of it leaked out into the overhead compartment without my knowledge. Let that be your PSA.
Always check the overhead cabin for breastmilk before laying your bag up there.
As I type this, I can smell the sour breastmilk wafting from my unpacked baggage. Excuse me… let me just go toss that in the wash real quick. ::gag::
I decided to just haul my handy, small manual pump with me out to Nintendo HQ the next day. Nintendo was a very super secret place where they didn’t allow us to take any photos (except in a very plain, devoid of anything super interesting room), and they required us to be escorted everywhere… even to the bathroom (with the CUTEST silhouette of the Princess outside the ladies room, which I totally wanted to take a picture of and Tweet, but I’m in no place to deal with a lawsuit).
The first time I went to pump, I felt I should warn my escort that my bathroom visit would be a while.
“I’m probably going to be at least 10 minutes,” I said.
He looked concerned.
“Oh, it’s just because I’m going to need to pump.”
He looked confused.
“Like, breastmilk, you know? I’m breastfeeding and-”
“Oh! Yeah. Fine. Okay,” he hurriedly cut me off with a “Whoa! TMI” look.
You’d think I just told him, “I’m going to go into the bathroom, expose my breasts, attach these suction cups the size of a cat’s head to my nipples and milk myself like a dairy cow,” all while miming the process.
But he was cute and nice and obviously not used to being around lactating women. It was funny.
Throughout the 2.5 days I was there, I pumped and saved 64 ounces. And on Saturday morning, minutes before my shuttle picked me up, I handed it off to a mother from Portland, visiting friends in Seattle. She plans to use it to supplement her own breastmilk supply for her 3 month old daughter (born on Leyna’s due date). She expressed her gratitude several times, offered to buy me coffee and gave me a big hug. It was an AMAZING feeling.
A week ago I wasn’t even thinking of donating my milk to anyone. I was struggling with the decision to bring it home with me on the plane or dump it. Neither option was one I was really comfortable with. I already had so much stuff I was lugging home with me, and the trip logistics were stressful enough. I didn’t want to deal with hauling it all home. But to dump it? Gah. No. That just couldn’t happen.
Then I posted this blog the day before I left. I knew women donate breastmilk, but didn’t think I had enough time to coordinate it, to fill out paperwork or get bloodwork done. A couple readers and Facebook fans pointed me to HM4HB (Human Milk 4 Human Babies). I posted on the Washington chapter’s Facebook page that I was willing to donate what I pumped if someone could pick it up from me at the hotel, and I had a reply within minutes. Easy peasy.
She didn’t ask that I have any medical tests done. It was very much an honor system. She asked if I had any illnesses, was on any medication or any special diets. I informed her I’d be having some adult beverages while there, and she was comfortable with that. Beyond that, there was no paperwork to fill out, no doctors to see, no tests to take.
Now, I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure I’d ever be comfortable feeding my children breastmilk from strangers (though I would consider breastmilk from women I know well), BUT I had no problem giving it, and I certainly don’t judge my recipient for using it. Just, for me, I’m not sure it’s something I’d feel comfortable with (and I know my husband wouldn’t). What about you?
Regardless, it felt like the right thing to do, and I’d rather it go to a family who needs it than to the Seattle sewer system.
I’ll be back tomorrow to share more details about my Seattle trip to Nintendo and how MIND BLOWING the new Nintendo 3DS (#SAMP) is, but I just had to share this story with you all today. It warmed my heart that rainy, cold and gray day.
Kendall is 2 years 11 months and Leyna is 3 months old