Sunday, August 18, 2013

Melk it. Melk it good ...

I have weak milk output. In fact, they called it a lactation deficiency on the official summary of my office visit. Now, whether this is the fault of me -- milk glands emitting puffs of stale air -- or her, the lazy sucking daughter of two Gen Xers, well, I won't point fingers. Although, I hate to think of myself as someone who struggles to make a product easily mastered by cats or, well, almonds.

The goal has been to feed, supplement and pump in two-hour rotations around the clock. Get the baby's weight up; Build up my milk supply. Except.

"Why, exactly, are you terrified of your pump?" the lactation specialist asked during a recent phone call.
"I don't know. Have you seen the photos? The nipples seemingly ripped from their roots, a soulless machine tugging liquid from a place where once liquid didn't exist," I said something like.

That's really why, but it's more. The pump came from a friend's sister with so many bags of accessories that I got The Panics trying to figure out how they all pieced together. I found an instructional video online, but it was for a model of the machine that was just different enough to leave me with questions.

And, of course, the machine itself. If you've never, ever, in your life had reason to encounter a breast pump, this can be a daunting piece of machinery. Not so much steampunk as "Logan's Run." A piece of technology that seems like it was built in the 1970s by men in yellow spandex jump suits. There are cones, tubes, wires, circular membranes and plastic pieces. This brilliant concept so wowed the makers that there has been no reason to improve upon it. And, truth, it does work like magic.

There is a breast-shaped bit of rubber that is hooked to tubes that connect to a contraption that is stuck to a chest with something like a bandeau bra with holes at center breast. With each pull, milk is drawn from the boobs, through a Tinker Toy-like structure and splashes into matching bottles. The machine has a repetitious sound that can become like a mantra for the delirious pumper hunkered over a Kindle for the ninth time in a single day. It can sound like a whiny friend saying "Why, why, why, why?" it can sound like your own voice saying "Noo. Noo. Noo. Noo."

Scientific curiosity trumped nipple cringing fear. Truthfully, I love pumping. I like spending 20 minutes in front of this machine, then walking away with a quantifiable amount of production -- whether it is a meager tally or my world record.

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