It’s 11:30 in the morning. Everyone else in the office has his or her mind on lunch. “I wonder if I should get to the microwave first,” or, “Should I pretend like I’m super busy and eat at my desk again?” Same questions, just a different day.
I notice a familiar heaviness that reminds me my least favorite time is approaching. I try to surreptitiously cop a feel to see if I can hold out for another 10 minutes. This email isn’t going to finish itself, but unfortunately, it’s time. The Padawan who shares my office, who’s greener than the grass on the other side of the fence, definitely notices. He blushes. Now that I’ve started thinking about it, it’s impossible to ignore. I go to check Facebook in order to get my mind off the pain in my chest, but the smiling face of my tiny human on my lock screen triggers leakage, and I know it’s time.
“Do you need to do anything out of the office for a bit?” I ask him. Trying to be subtle. “Not really,” he replies. I’ve been back a month and he still won’t cut me a break. I mull over whether or not to pull rank and make him take an early lunch. I decide to cut the poor kid a break; he’s still sensitive after his, “Well, I could totally be a man whore and you wouldn’t know” comment was met with laughter last week.
I collect the subtle black bag, with the only giveaway being the smell of milk, and move into the free office next door. I consider attempting to build street cred by playing Watch the Throne, but settle on 1989. I’m not fooling anyone. I turn up the volume as much as my phone speakers will allow, pull the curtains and lock the door.
Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. I’m convinced the sound radiates from one end of the office to the other, but it’s likely that my off-key quiet sing along to Wildest Dreams is traveling further. I can’t help it. The song gets me. I Snapchat a picture of the pump, add a giant cow emoji and giggle to myself. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. Someone tries to turn the doorknob. “Who is it?” I ask. The owner of the office isn’t bothered by my boobs and would keep me company. No answer. Of course there isn’t. “I’m busy…” Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. I text the owner of the office and ask if she’s trying to get in. “No.” I remain quiet and eventually I hear them walk away. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. I text my husband who’s living the dream at home as Mr. Mom, and ask how much milk she’s been drinking recently. I’m hoping he says, “Not much” and I can finish up. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. Chkkshhhhh. “Hungry girl,” is his response. Shit.
Eventually I’m done, and by now everyone is filtering out for lunch. There’s a crowd around the sink which is next to the microwave. I move with false confidence to rinse out the pump parts. It’s glaringly obvious that these parts have been used to milk my boobs, and there’s no hiding it, so as quickly as possible I rinse and put them back in the bag. The nosey older man who’s always has a comment for everything asks what I’ve been doing. “Making milk for your coffee,” I reply, without making eye contact. He’s startled, but he pretends he doesn’t hear me.
It bothers me that in the five short years of my career, I’ve gone from hiding a raging hangover, to hiding breast milk in the team refrigerator. I question whether the effort is really worth it, but remember my baby got her first body compliment the last weekend. “She has a lovely shaped body, I bet she’s breastfed,” a stranger stated while in line for the butcher. While the comment was slightly rude, I still considered putting it in her baby book. Our dog gets free things because of his nice looks; he’s told us he wants to teach her the same life lessons.
Plus, to be honest, I just burned 100 calories and got paid while browsing the Internet at work. I’m going to count this as a net positive, and do the same thing tomorrow..
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