Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Whatcha got in the bag?

I've mentioned before that I'm a nursing mom and express milk during the day at work. This fact doesn't embarrass me in the least. It does however give some of the men I work with the willies, so I try to be a little discreet about my pumping sessions. Fortunately, I have an office with a door and a lock, so I can pump without really disrupting my or anybody else's day (I do my best e-mailing while hooked up to ole Bess).

It's funny the wide range of reactions I get from male co-workers/supervisors when they find out I pump milk for my baby each day. My current boss has 10 kids (yes t-e-n), and nothing phases him. He has even cracked the occasional joke and mentioned on a couple of occasions how much his wife hated pumping during the short while one of their children had to stay in the hospital. My previous boss is a confirmed bachelor and blushed every time the topic ever came up.

The funniest reactions I get are from men who have asked just one too many questions. The most priceless was from the president of the Toastmasters club I belong to. Our meetings are scheduled during lunch, which is prime pump time. For six months or so, while I was getting into a good pump routine and building up a freezer stash, I skipped all Toastmasters meetings. Mr. President stopped by my office and asked why I wasn't participating anymore, so I told him. I don't think he really wanted to know after all since he turned several shades of magenta and excused himself very quickly. Ah well, people should be careful when asking personal questions, don't you know.

My personal favorite scenarios, though, are the questions I get from men wanting to know why I'm carrying my lunch bag around (and they say women are nosy?). These questions pop up when I'm carrying the milk cooler to the restroom for part rinsing or down to our cafeteria to get more ice. I imagine the 20 different shades of red they would turn if they knew the truth, smile and usually respond with, 'A girl does have to eat.' I have embarrassed a couple of people by saying it's milk for my baby and letting them do the math.

October 2002, I went on my first post-baby business trip. We turned it into a little family vacation, so Mr. W. and S. came along as well. Since I was going to be in day-long meetings, I brought ole Bess with me so I could pump, and Mr. W. could sightsee with six-month-old S. during the day. We flew and I carried old Bess on the plane with me. The first security guy eyed me suspiciously and demanded I explain what that piece of electrical equipment was. When I told him it was a breastpump used to express milk for my baby, he immediately turned bright purple. His eyes started darting back and forth and sweat formed between his eyebrows. He snatched his hands away from the bag like I announced it was contaminated with the plague and waved me on through security. Coming back through security, I was asked the same question and eyed with deep suspicion. Once I explained to security guy #2 what I was carrying, he immediately broke into a big smile and started asking all kinds of questions. Turned out he had heard of breastpumps and now here I was presenting him with his very first breastpump experience.

So men, next time you ask a gal, 'Whatcha got in the bag?' Be prepared. You may get a little more than you bargain for.


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