I have heard a handful of stories about high-powered women pumping breast milk in corporate bathrooms with a two week old baby at home. Since I’ve been “on sabbatical” for the past four years, I haven’t had to worry about expressing in bathrooms or empty boardrooms. In May, at 28 weeks pregnant, I decided to implement a self-imposed travel ban until December this year. I had dragged The Princess on about 40 domestic and international flights by the age of two and I was not going to do the same with two kids. But a few months into my “travel ban”, I received an invitation to the wedding of one of my favourite school friends in George. I quickly calculated that The Prince would be about two and a half months old at the time of the celebrations – too young for me to lift the ban, I thought.
But The Husband – having enjoyed a two week cycling trip abroad when The Prince was just a month old – encouraged me to fly solo and to go and enjoy the wedding on my own while he looked after the kids (with reinforcements, I must stress). So I booked my flights and began a regime of expressing extra milk.
Aside from planning to leave refrigerated breast milk behind, I hadn’t really thought through what it means to leave your baby while you’re breastfeeding. When I told my neighbour (and fellow mom of a newborn) that I was looking forward to wearing a cleavage busting dress for the wedding, she raised an eyebrow and pointed out that I’d have to wear a feeding bra and breastpads too. Hmm. I hadn’t thought of that. She also mentioned that if I didn’t pump while I was away, not only would my boobs explode, but I’d also risk inadvertently drying up my milk supply. I also hadn’t really thought of that.
Okay, so I’d need to pack my pump.
Then, another wise mommy friend, Mandy, asked me how I was planning on sterilising the pump while I was away. I somehow hadn’t thought of that either. My glamorous mommy’s weekend away was starting to look alot less glamorous… But Mandy – having produced enough milk for her two children to supply a neo-natal ward – had a plan.
“Are you really going to keep the milk you express? How are you going to ensure it stays chilled when you bring it back on the plane? You don’t want to take any risks… Not to mention the fact that it’ll be full of wedding champagne… Why don’t you just toss it?”
My initial reaction was shock and horror. I recalled battling to eke out a breast milk supply for The Princess. Back then, pumping sessions would very rarely yield more than a meagre 20ml at a time. Expressing 30ml was an infrequent triumph! This time around, when I express before going to bed, I can often pump up to 120ml. Still, because of my experience with The Princess, I regard every drop of breast milk as liquid gold and therefore balked when Mandy suggested throwing this away. But I confess that the thought of having to sterilise the pump’s parts after every session did not appeal. And the idea of indulging in an unlimited amount of bubbly certainly did. For these reasons I decided to take Mandy’s advice and, sniff, sniff, toss out The Prince’s liquid gold supply.
As I checked in on Saturday morning, my thoughts not only wandered to bubbly but also to the unlimited intake of coffee I would be able to indulge in…
Enter Vide e Caffe:
Secure in the knowledge that all breastmilk toxins would literally be going down the drain for the next 30 hours or so, this was my first airport stop for a fully caffeinated, GRANDE cappuccino.
Aside from the caffeine indulgence, I must admit that it felt odd sitting down quietly and alone at a table with only my industrial breast pump as hand luggage: no pram/ Baby Bjorn/ nappy bag and especially no toddler wanting to race around the entire departure lounge. And on the flight I had a whole two hours to read, to sleep… This was, however, interrupted by the SWD Eagles rugby team who treated the aircraft like a school bus, with the back row shouting across to their teammates 15 rows in front. They put the “brains vs brawn” debate firmly to rest for anyone in doubt by shouting out things like:
“Ladies & gentleman… 20 minutes in the toilet! What has he been doing in there?”
Surprisingly, my fellow passengers failed to break out into uproarious laughter but this did not deter one of these 130kg hulks, who were all well-oiled with canned Klippies ‘n Coke by then. Ignoring the definition of insanity, the hulk blurted out his toilet “joke” again and again, evidently hoping for a more positive response at each attempt. It was at this point that I started to wonder whether I’d rather be on a plane with a screaming toddler or a team of drunk rugby players. I came to the conclusion that I’d probably have more luck reasoning with The Princess, owing to her innate brainpower advantages.
But despite the bruisers on the plane and having to express every four hours, I was thrilled that The Husband had pushed me to go to the wedding. The experience was worth every ounce of discarded liquid gold. And The Prince and Princess were even cuter and cuddlier than I remembered when I arrived home the next day.