Bidding a frenemy adieu

Today, I sent my breast pump to a new home, where it will help yet another mama continue a dairy-making operation.

But oh, the memories…

When I first set up shop at our dining room table, a single thought slid through my mind:

I hope that one day, Hubs will forget this image.

Seeing one’s wife crouched over, her breasts attached to plastic cones and tubing, isn’t what one would deem a turn-on.

Factor in the whirring and wheezing noises and you’ve got a real Kathleen Turner scene in the making. Yeah, right.

Each woman who pumps begins to believe the rhythmic noise can be interpreted into human language. My pump offered this refrain: Let it go, let it go, let it go …

A fellow reporter and photographer once held a spirited debate over what my pump seemed to be saying. We were in New Orleans a few months after Katrina, driving down empty streets. The bickering pair sat in the front. I was crouched over my pump in the back seat. At one point, the photographer, a guy, pulled over to chat with some construction workers, prompting my fellow reporter to shriek: “Stephen, Cathy’s half-naked!”

“Oh, sorry,” the absent-minded Stephen replied.

The fellow reporter, my friend Amy, probably had the most exposure to my pump ā€” after me, that is. During one story, when we met in a conference room to spread out documents and notes, I would pump while we pored over police reports.

I pumped in my car, beach towels slung across windows, in public bathrooms and, on one occasion, in an airplane lavatory. How I didn’t attract the attention of a U.S. marshal still astounds me.

Once, in an airport security line, a baffled, elderly worker pulled my pump from the x-ray machine and began pulling out the plastic cones and tubing. He looked at another worker, who simply shrugged.

“It’s a breast pump!” I hollered from the confines of the metal detector. The poor man dropped my plastic cones so fast, you’d have thought they were coated in anthrax.

So yeah, the pump was often an inconvenience.

But as a working mom, it also was a necessity. I didn’t necessarily like the thing, but it served an important purpose.

So it is with mixed feelings that I pass it on.

I loved nursing. I loved the glazed eyes and milk-drunk expressions of my sweet babes. I loved watching them fall asleep at my breast.

The pump allowed me to continue that relationship long after returning to work. I nursed my first until she was nearly a year and a half; the second just over a year.

So goodbye, old … friend. I can’t wait to hear what your new owner thinks you’re saying.

A few photos ā€”

Tootie had a tough time believing that she, too, once got milk from mama.


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