Thursday, October 30, 2014

Adventure: Pumping in Dallas, Texas

I set out on another work trip recently to Dallas, Texas for the Adventure and Travel Expo at the Convention Center.

At this point after two weekends of hopping planes and staying in hotel rooms, I feel somewhat of an expert on the traveling and pumping and want to share the wealth of knowledge for keeping the liquid gold in tact, cold and passing even through naive TSA agents.

Make no apologies. None. To your work/employer, to hotel staff, to airport security, to expo coordinators, to people who happen to come into your vicinity when you're pumping. My coworker from Cameroon, a man, said that it's amazing what I'm doing for my baby and he's right. You are amazing too, all the things you're doing for your baby.

Work related expos
After two trips the confidence is there for me. Before arriving to the expo I contacted the coordinator to ask where they would suggest I pump during the show. Bewildered, they sent me on a wild goose chase that eventually ended up with me speaking with the original person who I had called. She set me up in the EMT tent. Perfect, I had told her, all I need is an outlet and a curtain. (It didn't actually happen and I had to improvise because the EMT area was locked and it was a 15 minute walk back to my booth so I made do in a bathroom after speaking with extremely friendly, grandmother janitors who chatted me up while I pumped away).

Hotel storing
My hotel room didn't have a fridge that stayed cool as they had "gone green" and you needed to be in the room for the fridge to run (I'm not sure how this actually helps anyone). I contacted the front desk and poof my real fridge arrived in a matter of minutes. Sure, there was some awkwardness on the other side of the phone as she was relaying information to probably a supervisor that a guest needed to store, cough cough breastmilk, but who cares? Not me, not you and we're changing society's feelings about it the more we are confident and clear about our needs and what we're doing.

Airports are a danger zone for engorgement. The sheer fact that you need to arrive two hours before your flight means you're likely pumping in one which for me brings up the question, where the F are all the mother's rooms? I've only found one in my hometown MSP airport and one? for the entire public, including staff? Pretty crazy.
MSP mother's room Pump it up!

Sometimes it feels like you might be the only one feeding your baby in this archaic way, but you're not because women have been doing this forever and continue to pump and nurse in public spaces, quietly, covertly, getting the job done however creatively they've had to. I shamelessly lock myself in the handicapped bathrooms when no mother's room exists. Its not the prettiest of places to make miracle milk but at least I can chill with my boobs out.

Airport security
If you've read my last posts, I wrote about how great the Canadians were at letting me smuggle my 75 oz of baby's milk back home. No questions asked, just a quick test and there I was off on my way. TSA  at DFW hadn't ever. run. into. this. before. What, am I joking? No I'm not. There I stood for 25 minutes while the guy put my precious medela milk bags one after the other into the x-ray machine looking back at me nervously as the alarm went off again and again. I stared hard back at him, "if you think I'm going to dump this, you're wrong buddy," communicating through ESP. "Supervisor. Supervisor. Supervisor!" He called to his boss. "What is it?" "Well, the alarm keeps going off." "Well, ma'am, what are these pouches?" "It's breast-milk." "Oh, ok, well test strip them then, they're probably too wet to x-ray." He carries out the orders and I pass, but he tests each one and gush... a bag breaks. I'm not too sad I can make another bag and serves him right for hassling me. And also, you're welcome TSA because breast-milk does a great job of moisturizing dry hands.

UPDATE 2016: From another mama: The MSP pumping room by gate F1 is AMAZING - granite, thermostat, sink, changing table, nice chair. It was awesome.

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