I was at an offsite meeting for work last week. Normally the facility that we use for big meetings is also where we stay overnight, but there was so much going on that they didn’t have space for us and we had to stay at a nearby hotel. In my other life this would have been fine. In my new mom life, this sucked for one major reason. Pumping.
When I checked in at the front desk I asked if they had a mother’s room, to which they responded that they have a “quiet room” that I was welcome to use, but it was “a pretty far walk from the conference room” where we were essentially working 12+ hours a day. “Your other option is a locked bathroom nearby.” Great.
Upon inspection, a locked bathroom would have meant that a) people might have wondered why I kept locking myself in a bathroom for 15+ minutes at a time multiple times a day (not a huge issue because I am quite certain no one was paying attention to me…) and b) balancing a pump that I wasn’t actually sure would stretch far enough while weirdly perched on the toilet. #nothankyou
We booked our meeting last minute and there was so much going on that it meant we were given the “boardroom” for our 3 day working session. It was a nice room, comfy seats, big circular table, good technology, hidden rooms with snacks, and, oddly enough, a hidden office.
There were secret doors in the paneling. When we found the secret (not really at all) office I jokingly said, “can I claim that for later?”. Luckily I work with a bunch of women who know me well and said “TOTALLY, PERFECT!”… and it would have been except for a minor (actually really major) detail.
I was meeting with a team of mainly women, but there were also some men. Namely, one of our senior leaders. I work for a huge company. He is pretty up there. C-level. He was in and out of the room a lot, so I figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal – 80% of the people in the room knew exactly what I was doing when I got up in the middle of the meeting a couple of times. The other 20% probably thought that I had another call… it’s just that I was PUMPING.
I don’t know why, but every time I wanted to actually pump I either got asked to present OR we had random leadership in the room. I greatly reduced my pumping and if my boobs weren’t about to burst from strain I probably would have just ignored the whole situation, but I couldn’t.
I have 2 more weeks (I feel like that should be surrounded by flashing lights) to meet my personal goal of pumping / nursing for a year and I am not letting this dumb scenario be what ends it. It ends on mine and Simon’s terms, not this meeting.
So stubborn in fact, that I was “willing” to pump in a not so secret room off a very public meeting space. I really had no choice.
I actually started drafting this post while pumping from the secret office. It was all I could do to get through the weirdness – laugh about it. I had my shirt off, pumping bra on, with the unmistakable pump sound while much of my team and leadership sat less than 10 feet away talking about our project.
Mara of a year ago would have NEVER done this.
Does this win some sort of award for most awkward pumping moment? I think it topped my list of awkward stories and I feel like I am not lacking in the awkward moments. I was pinging people from my laptop saying things like, “can you hear the pump?”. Everyone said no, but then someone told me it was very soft and “only every so often”, so I really wonder… no one who wasn’t in the know would dare ask, but still.
Every time I came out of the super secret office I thought, “pardon me while I brush my hair and straighten my shirt. That secret conference call in the secret office with the “rreeerrr, rrreeeerrrr” sounds was very stressful. Eh hem.
The scene of the pumping. You like that green lamp? Boardroom chic and exclusively mine every 5 hours :).