Parenting & Relationships

New Mommy Files: Pump It Real Good

Written by Amy McAloon

In order to celebrate my birthday this year I decided to splurge and really spoil myself: I bought a breast pump.

Some may ask, why not indulge in a new pair of jeans that hurl my arse back in time to my twenties or some so-strappy-my-ankles-may-snap sandals? How about a day at the spa or spritzers and salads with friends? Nope. A breast pump, because I decided to lavish myself with extra time.

As a new breastfeeding mother, a breast pump symbolizes a certain amount of freedom because without it I am only able to leave the house for a maximum of two hours. And by two hours, I mean one and change.

My first outing post-baby was a five minute walk to the pharmacy in order to buy some Canesten, otherwise known as yeast infection cream — but that’s another story for another time. [Author’s note: This story does not include my crotch.]

The next few outings were mostly trips to the grocery store. You would not believe how exhilarating a jaunt down the dairy aisle can be for a socially starved new mom. And the produce section? I remember ogling the plantain and papaya like I was some lunatic on a medicine walk through the jungle. Fact: I needed to get out more.

Eventually, I took myself out for lunch a month or so after my baby girl was born. I don’t think anyone has ever taken so long to eat two soft shell chicken tacos in the history of time. I. Stretched. Those. Tacos. Out. One teeny little bite at a time. As I contemplated the dessert menu, my cell phone buzzed its way across the table and I was forced to grab it before it plunged to the floor. Someone had sent me a picture – cool!

And then I realized the pic was a close-up of my screeching baby. Not so cool. My Baby Daddy didn’t need to call me, the photo said it all: “Get the EFF HOME NOW before our baby’s head explodes.” And that’s pretty much how every outing ended. A desperate call or text from my Baby Daddy to please get the EFF HOME NOW.

I suppose my birthday present was really for the both of us, because once the S.O.S call came through I’d rush home and race up the two flights of stairs to our apartment and find a sweaty-faced and bug-eyed man frantically rocking our wee bundle of anger. I’d rip my shirt off and get that baby to my breast as fast as humanly possible, and then have to sit and listen to the veteran as he barraged me with his war stories. Enough was enough. It was time to go shopping.

It’s all about the harmony

Based on my personal situation, I decided to go for a manual pump. A manual pump is perfect for women who only need to pump their milk occasionally. Manual pumps are also supposed to help with flat or inverted nipples. I hear surgery is pretty good, too. Just kidding — I’m no judge. If only the manual pump could do something for my flat and inverted butt cheeks.

After doing some research, I bought the Medela Harmony breast pump. I chose it because, well, I liked the name. Who doesn’t want a little harmony in their life? I also liked that it’s PBA-free and when I looked at it I didn’t feel threatened. Some of the other pumps looked too much like something you’d find in a dairy farm for my liking.

If you build it, milk will come

Luckily, my younger and wiser sister was here visiting when I decided to buy the breast pump. Not because I needed her emotional support or advice about pumping — okay, maybe a little — but because of her engineer’s mind. After I boiled all the bits and pieces and lay them out on a sterile surface to dry, I was baffled. It was like looking at an explosion of PBA-free plastic guts. I would have figured it out eventually, but sister smarty-pants sped things up by walking me through the reassembly.

With my Harmony in tow, I went to a quiet corner, relaxed my shoulders, took a few deep breaths and pictured my wailing baby. I pictured my red-faced screaming baby girl at her hungriest, and then I gave’er. The milk flowed immediately: one, two, three ounces! I’ll admit, it was weird to be sitting there watching my nipple in a vacuum spitting out milk. But then I looked away and started to think about the delicious dinner I was going to have that night. Delicious dinner, followed by a delicious margarita and some good old fashioned belly laughs with my gal pals.

Pump, pump, pump!

I pumped enough milk for a bottle. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the fridge for three to eight days, according to the FAQ at the Medela website. I went out that evening and left a relaxed Baby Daddy alone for five — count ’em — hours. I lingered over dessert and coffee and the only text I got was about how my girl chugged her bottle and passed out like a frat boy at his first kegger. Time is on my side … yes it is!

About the author

Amy McAloon

Born in Montreal, Canada, writer and artist Amy McAloon discovered photography when she was 13, after her father bought her a little point-and-shoot. Eventually the automatic was tossed aside for an old Nikon FE, and the two have been best friends ever since.

Amy went on to study writing, fine art and black and white photography in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. After a few years spent traveling through Central America with her battered Nikon slung over one shoulder and a notebook tucked away in her camera bag, Amy enrolled in a photojournalism program in Victoria, B.C.

Since then, she has lived and worked as a writer, reporter and photographer in New Mexico, Florida, California and Belize. She now makes her home in Montreal with a loving partner-in-crime, a beautiful baby girl and a hot new Nikon D7000 DSLR.