The other day, I was interviewing a fairly prominent women’s physical therapist for a story on back pain. Being the multitasking new mom that I am, I decided to pump while we spoke, so I strapped on the sexy white cotton hands-free pumping bandeau I received as a baby shower present – you know, the one with the silver dollar-sized holes cut out over the nipples – simultaneously powered on my pump and my Mac, and got to work.
About five minutes into the interview, there was a lull in the conversation as I transcribed her quote about the proper way to load the dishwasher. And that’s when she softly chuckled and said, “I can hear you pumping.”
It takes a lot to embarrass me. I have written first person accounts of getting colonics and Brazilian bikini waxes, detailed my sex life for national women’s magazines and so meticulously described the color and shape of my nipples in Locker Room Diaries that my father and grandfather can only look at my shoes when greeting me. But getting caught milking my boobs during an interview? Color me mortified.
My profuse apologies were brushed aside. “I think it’s great that you’re multitasking,” she assured me. But silently, I cursed my Medela Pump In Style and vowed to muzzle it during all future work events.
It was the trademark “whump-whump” noise that gave me away. Along with the ripping Velcro sound of my My Brest Friend nursing pillow and the truck driver burps that somehow emerge from Evie’s tiny belly, no other sound reminds me of new motherhood so much as that damn whump-whump, whump-whump. Sometimes, at three o’clock in the morning, as I page through Facebook with one hand and clamp two plastic bottle to my boobies with the other, I swear my Medela is talking to me. At times, it sounds like she’s chanting, “Uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh.” Other times, she mutters, “Let it go, let it go, let it go.” Considering how mouthy she can be, I’m considering opening a Twitter account for her.
Essentially, my breast pump is the Peter Frampton of mammary suction.
I asked some of my other nursing mom friends what their EvenFlos and Amedas whisper to their sleep-deprived selves in the dead of the night:
Julie: “My four-year-old thought my pump said, ‘Move the ball. Move the ball.’ As if pumping wasn’t annoying enough, I had to listen to my kids chant it every time I pumped.”
Alyssa: “It’s been a while, but mine always made me think of a helicopter that had landed and the propellers were slowing down: ‘Whomp, whomp, whomp.’ Or, when I was even more tired than usual, it said ‘What? What? What?’ It kinda sounded like my deaf Uncle Morty.”
Kristen: “Mine would say ‘Sleep, sleep, sleep’ and ‘Moo, moo, moo’ to me. In the middle of the night, while the boys were in the NICU, I would sleep as commanded and awake to soaking wet legs because I would overfill the 8 oz bottles I was pumping into. Thank God pumps turn off automatically after about 30 min!”
Laura: “I didn’t know other people’s pumps talked to them, too! I thought it was all in my crazy, post-partum, mother-of-twins head. Mine used to chant, ‘Not good, not good, not good.’ I’d try to convince myself it was saying something more positive, but it always sounded like ‘not good to me. Maybe that’s why I didn’t stick with it very long….”
Christine: “Mine spoke to me all the time. It would say… ‘Hello, hello, hello’ and ‘In out, in out, in out.’”
Emily: “My pump said all kinds of things! ‘Ben Pow, Ben Pow, Ben Pow’ and ‘Ramapo, Ramapo, Ramapo’ (that’s the name of the overnight camp where my parents met) were most memorable. After a while I just zoned out.”
A woman named EmDu claims her pump prophesized, “Wall Paint, Wall Paint, Wall Paint”…and a year later, her son’s lead levels came back elevated. You should’ve listened to your Medela, EmDu! She knows all!
Shameless plug: My friend, Diane, works at HealthiNation, a top media company that produces and syndicates health and lifestyle videos. I’m not sure why they haven’t yet tapped me to be their breastfeeding spokesperson, but I’ll promote their helpful YouTube videos on pumping, nonetheless. Hey, HealthiNation, I have awesome, porn star-quality nursing boobs and my breast pump actually talks to me. Sounds like some made-for-video magic waiting to happen. Hit a girl up.