Back in November I had the exciting opportunity to travel away from home and go to Florida to present at a national conference.
This conference is huge, attended by people all over the world, and runs for four days. So big, in fact, that the key note speaker was Ruby Bridges. Ruby Bridges! Though I was thrilled to be accepted as a presenter, it also meant leaving my youngest for the first time. I received the email regarding my acceptance in July. The conference was four months away and that meant I would have four months to (worry-myself-to-death-about) mentally and physically prepare for leaving my baby, who would be just shy of turning a year.
As the conference drew closer, I began to think about all of the logistics – being a kindergarten teacher I was going to have to write sub plans for three whole days. Ask any teacher, and they will tell you that taking a day off of work is much harder than being at work. I also had to write mommy sub plans for my family – my husband who would be at home and my parents who were coming to help. What to make for lunch. What to make for dinner. How much milk was in the freezer and how to wash/steam/dry the bottles, etc.
I had my teacher sub plans. I had my mommy sub plans. I had my presentation planned. I had my airline tickets and hotel. What about pumping while away? I would have to just figure it out.
The first day I didn’t fare so well. I had to travel from Burlington to Orlando, and I really did not want to pump in the airport, so I made sure to pump before I left. Being gifted in the milk production department, I had no issue when it came to collecting the quantities of milk that my baby required. And while Burlington airport is pumping/nursing friendly with their lovely Mamava booth in both terminals, I don’t know of many other airports that have these stations. So, I foolishly thought that pumping before I left would be enough to get me through to Orlando where I would pump when I got to my hotel room. Which would have been fine, except that I forgot about the time it would take to get a shuttle TO the hotel. Whoops. That was painful.
Pumping at the hotel was easy peasy, as we had a refrigerator in the room. Score! I also had some friends who lent me their milk storage coolers for the trip home so I was set there. I just had to plan my whole conference around pumping. The first day I was able to go back to the hotel between sessions and presenting. The second day, well, see below.
I brought my pump with me (they are so inconspicuous, aren’t they?) and after lunch I walked around the massive conference center trying to find an outlet in a back hallway or empty session room. I lucked out finding the latter, only to share the room with a woman chatting away on her cell phone in the other corner. I plopped myself down and got comfy. 30 minutes later I was washing my pump parts out in the gross bathroom sink, shaking them dry. I headed down to the food court to pack my milk on ice. Added said milk-on-ice to the weight of my backpack, and my sherpa status was in full effect!
I have never flown with frozen milk before and the Orlando airport was insane with travelers. I wasn’t looking forward to being held up or holding others up due to my “medical liquids”, but it was also a proud badge I was wearing that day. This is what I did for my baby. By the attitude of the TSA folks at security, it was just another day on the job. After the man searched my coolers to make sure nothing was hidden inside, I was on my merry way and headed back home.
Pumping while traveling adds a whole new dimension while breast feeding. Was some of it a pain in the neck? Actually, some of it was downright painful. It was a lot, for me, to figure out and plan on top of everything else, but we always figure out what we need to do, and in the end I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.