Breast Pumps and Balancing Acts

My son, now five, was two the last time that I was alone for more than 4 hours.  After months of planning, I flew to Philadelphia this past weekend.  By myself.  I had grand plans.  I would arrive in the afternoon, take a nap, meet my dear high school friend for dinner, and arrive back to my hotel room (acquired on priceline and surely lovely) in plenty of time (read 8 p.m.) for a glass of wine, some chocolate from the vending machine, and some HGTV.     When I arrived back at my hotel room at 10 pm (sadly, way late for this mama and due, in no small part, to the Adele and Bruce Springsteen concerts happening within a block from one another, and about a mile from my hotel room), I remembered that I needed to pump.  Laine is 17 months old and has decided to nurse until she’s at least 8.  When I got out my manual pump, I realized that the small white membranes that fit on the bottom of the pump were apparently left at home in North Carolina.  How necessary could they be, I wondered?  Apparently, pretty necessary.  I was alone, it was 10 pm in an unfamiliar city, and I was pretty sure that breast pump membranes weren’t one of the “forgotten necessities” that the front desk would supply.  This, my friends, is how I discovered I was able to suck my own nipple.  Both nipples, in fact.


And that is what I did, spitting my breastmilk out into the sink at first, and then into a cup, deciding that it would be interesting to see how much milk I could acquire, using this method.  6 ounces.  It took me about 45 minutes, mostly because I was sending messages to my husband and friends regarding the humiliation/hilarity I was currently enduring.

I drove to Target the next morning, purchased the very necessary breast pump accessories, and enjoyed the rest of my weekend, picking up a different, and also incredibly wonderful, friend at the airport after my Target run and spending the remainder of my Philadelphia freedom weekend at the Farmer’s market, browsing in stores I can’t afford, having full-on conversations with noone to interrupt us, napping (!), putting on ridiculous face masks, using the ludicrously extravagant fitness center at the hotel that neither of us could really afford, and ordering room service for breakfast.  It was beautiful.

There is absolutely no way that I would have appreciated it to the extent that I did before having my two darling children.  And there is absolutely no feeling like the one that I experienced when my kids spotted me at the airport.  My 5 year old ran to me, my 17 month old waddled, and they both gave me the most delicious hugs.  Those moments we are told to savor - that, for sure, was one of them.

To be clear, I’ll also savor the memory of sitting on my hotel bed, realizing the solution to my membrane-less breast pump, and smiling at the absurdity of it all.  

Yoga, for me, has always been about balance - physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I get on my mat to look for it in my body, my head, my heart.  I love that, no matter where you practice, or how vigorously you practice, there is always savasana at the end.  Our western culture of busyness and productivity, of staring at technology for hours on end and sitting at the same desk all day, has also simultaneously embraced this practice of movement and breath, of looking inward and slowing down.  It makes sense.

My weekend of down time was long overdue.  Maybe starting with two nights after such a long imbalance was “too much, too soon,” the forgotten breast pump part a possible indication of that.  Life, for so many of us, is a balancing act, and one that I often feel less than adept at managing.  Last Sunday, I was really good at it.  I had time with my friend in the morning, read my book on the plane ride home, and got to spend some wonderful time with my family that evening.   I have failed miserably this weekend.  My husband is camping with some friends, and I've struggled through every hour, both berating myself for not living in the moment with my children, while also counting the minutes until bedtime.  I remembered to take a deep breath in the car today.  One.   

The idea that it's all a practice can be more often easily remembered in yoga, than in life.  But, though some days may include forgotten pump accessories, and others delightful reunions, we all forge on, and, when we can, we practice balancing.