While I was on maternity leave with my first son, I dutifully practiced using my pump so I would be ready when I needed to transition back to work. I thought I had it down and was proud of how things were going when I realized something – I was going to have to pump AT work.
Logically I knew that.
Realistically, the thought of pumping in a public place gave me cold sweats. Not to mention the fact that I taught school at a residential treatment center that inherently could not have locks on any of their doors.
Fortunately, a coworker had come back from maternity leave not long before I was due and had paved the way for a pro-breastfeeding environment. I got a lot of support when I returned to work and with a successful week of pumping behind me I began to relax.
I pumped in an empty dorm room, because that was really the only place available. The door didn’t lock but I made a point of making sure all my coworkers knew when I was going in there so no one would make the mistake of walking in on me — which really was my biggest fear.
As I relaxed I got braver and turned my pumping sessions into mini breaks where I could multi-task by pumping while I read a book. The process turned me into an octopus as I wrestled with a double pump and my book but I found that the more relaxed I was the easier it was to pump.
I was in that same awkward position one day at work, one arm holding both sides of my pump in place, the other holding my book – all of me fully exposed – when I heard a door open.
I looked up to see one of my male teenage students standing there staring at me.
People use the phrase deer in the headlights. Let me just say, it TOTALLY applied here. This kid was too shocked and embarrassed to move. Behind him, through the open door, I could see the rest of my class staring.
I think I told him to get out and shut the door 5 times before he actually managed to do it.
Once I got over being embarrassed I realized how awkward that was for him. Teenage boys aren’t experts on the process of pumping. To this day I’m not even really sure he knew what I was doing and I hate to think of all the crazy things he might have imagined.
After that I was more cautious when I pumped. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to use a blanket to cover up. Nursing covers were still new back then but one would have really come in handy at that moment.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment while pumping at work?