Ode to the pump

Oh, breast pump. You have served me well.

You aren’t much to look at. Your black leather case has a broken latch and a mysterious white stain. Your knobs have some dust and dirt.


You’re old – I’m not quite sure just how old. Your instruction manual says copyright 1996. I know you’ve had at least two previous owners: the friend who gave you to me and the woman she purchased you from on Craigslist six years ago.


I would assume the woman in the photo was fashionable when this was printed.

But you’ve done your job well for the past year.

You’ve been by my side almost every day.  You’ve accompanied me to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Virginia Beach, Las Vegas and St. Louis. You’ve made it through airport security a half-dozen times – mostly without incident. You’ve allowed me to be with my best friends to celebrate weddings and bachelorette parties. You’ve allowed me to feed my baby bottles of nothing but breast milk for the first year (and counting) of his life.


You’ve stayed by my side in loud hotel rooms filled with girlfriends, creepy airport bathrooms, tiny hotel bathrooms, a retreat center, the Chicago History Museum during a wedding reception and Corban’s dark nursery after each middle-of-the-night feeding while I was on maternity leave. How many times have I listened to your rhythmic ruuu-uuum, ruuu-uuum, ruuu-uuum while perched on a recliner in the lactation room at work? (Twice a day for about six months and once a day for another couple months.)


um, yeah, I totally panorama-ed the lactation room*


You’ve helped me pump 2,561.6 ounces of milk (and that’s just what I’ve recorded in the Baby Connect app). That’s 320.2 cups, or more than 20 gallons of milk.

Despite your age, you’re a hardworking pump. You deserve a break.

Two days before Corban’s first birthday, we had our last fling (at least until Baby #2). I admit, I already kind of miss those calm moments when I could zone out to your whirring motor in the middle of my workday. But I don’t miss carrying you around with me, worrying about milk refrigeration, hunting for private electrical outlets in public spaces and hand washing your plastic parts.

So until next time, old friend, take it easy.

*There used to be this sweet 1970s-era (I’m guessing?) TV in the lactation room, but then we got someone new in HR (a mom) who cleaned the room up and cleared it out:


4 thoughts on “Ode to the pump

  1. Chelsea says:

    Hi! I found your blog through Sarah’s (the SHU box). My son is 3 weeks old and I just started pumping 2 days ago to start building up a stockpile. Any tips or things you wish you knew when you were starting out?


    • Alison says:

      Hi Chelsea! Congrats on your new baby boy 🙂 Here are a few random thoughts: In the beginning I know it’s more important to sterilize pump parts/bottles (I used the medela steam clean bags – works in the microwave) but eventually I stopped doing that altogether. I would even pump a couple times in a row without washing the parts — if I didn’t fill a bottle in one session I would just leave the pump parts on it and put it in the fridge till next time. Maximizes efficiency while pumping at work!

      I would keep all the necessary pumping items stored in the pump bag whenever possible — lanolin (apply it before pumping), pump parts, small towel, bottles, ziplock bags for backup, extra caps for bottles (saved me on numerous occasions). I also carried the pump in a big reusable nylon grocery bag so I could tote other things in it, and so it looked a bit more discreet.

      They make wipes specifically for cleaning pump parts when you don’t have access to water, and those were nice for traveling, when I didn’t have dish soap or just didn’t want to deal with washing in a sink. Medela also makes storage bags you can pump directly into and then freeze. Those were nice sometimes, but they aren’t very big (5 oz), they freeze in a more awkward shape than a regular sandwich bag and they’re expensive, so I didn’t use them all that often.

      If I was freezing milk, I would store it in sandwich-size ziplock bags (double bagged) stored flat. I labeled it with sharpie with the date and a number (starting with 1… made it up to 100-something!) so I could easily find the oldest milk to use first. Recently, now that we’re exclusively using frozen milk while I’m at work, I went through and organized the frozen bags into bigger ziplock bags, grouping them by date. Makes for a lot less digging around.

      Also, our pediatrician told us that realistically, frozen milk will last indefinitely (as long as it stays frozen), so if you have the freezer space and desire, might as well stock up!

      Whew… that ended up being a whole blog post in itself 🙂 Best of luck!


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