Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Federally-Protected Boobs

I regularly go topless at work.

Yes, that's right. I'm back at work now that my daughter is 12-weeks old and I'm still breastfeeding. I was quite impressed when I emailed my HR person to ask if there was someplace other than the bathroom for me to pump and she immediately requested a locked office on my floor.


I was so impressed, I told my husband, who then asked his own HR department at his law firm if they had a locked office available for nursing mothers. They did not then, but they do now. Go husband! If there's one thing he's passionate about, it's liberated titties.

Well now I find out that it's actually a federal law that an employer make a space available for an employee to pump milk that isn't the restroom:

"President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, on March 23rd and the Reconciliation Act of 2010, H.R. 4872, on March 30, 2010. Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk."

Read more about it here.

The only unfortunate part of all this is the fact that I actually have to go to this locked office and pump. My god. Is there anything more boring than pumping milk? I have a double-electric "Pump In Style®" (Yes, that is actually what it's called) so I don't have to hand-pump, but it's still tedious. There's no getting around the fact that you have to hold two plastic cones up to your breasts for fifteen minutes at a time. In a locked, windowless office with no TV or computer, it's like fifteen minutes of ADD torture twice a day.

I've tried reading the New York Times on my Blackberry®, but you try scrolling with a plastic pump suctioned to a nipple in each hand. It's not pretty and it's not easy, especially if you're trying not to break the seal and you don't want to wind up with spilt milk on your smart phone.

Liquids + Cell phones = Bad.

Yesterday I had the good idea to wear a Maxi dress to work. I totally forgot that a Fitted Dress + Electric Breast Pump = Bad Idea. For a moment I considered completely removing the dress and just sitting there at the desk in my underwear and heels while I pumped. But I've had enough anxiety over the "Is the door really locked or did I accidentally unlock it?" as it is, fully-clothed. So imagine a co-worker walking in on me not just pumping, but with me in nothing but a pair of underpants and high heels. You might as well quadruple the humiliation.

If that were to happen I'd immediately become the "Freaky chick who pumps breast milk in the nude at work." Not unlike George Costanza who removed all of this clothing to take a dump. That weird. And it's hard not to make milk coming out of your breasts any more freaky than it is all on its own, mammals or not.

Americans are freaked out by breasts, and even more so when they start leaking fluids, and about a gazillion times more freaky than that when you attach a little sucking baby to them. My god. We get our puritanical bonnets in a bee-tizzy.

I've read with interest over the past few months the stories of breastfeeding mothers being accosted by security guards and restaurant managers for nursing in public. I've read with disappointment as commenters on said articles express their disgust with breastfeeding.

Do you suppose they were weaned too soon from their own mothers and that's why they have such a disgust for something that is pretty darned sweet? I mean, seriously. You're offended by a nursing baby?

The fact of the matter is, while a baby is nursing, you really only see their little head cuddled up against mom. Sure if mom's struggling to latch the baby onto her breast you might get a good view of her nip. In which case, I recommend not looking.


There's plenty I don't want to see in public. I don't like to see people's legs. Legs gross me out. But I can't make wearing shorts illegal. I don't want to see ill-fitting tops, panty lines, goatees, or baseball caps on backwards. There are a whole plethora of shoes I think should be illegal, but I still have to see people in Birkenstocks and Crocs every day of my life.

And what do I do about these things that offend my eye?

I look away.

Fortunately I've only had to breastfeed in public a few times since my daughter was born. I usually skulk off to a far away corner and make sure the latch-on is quick. Once she's in place and happily sucking away, you really can't see anything with my t-shirt bunched up over her head. Maybe I'll take a cloth diaper and lay it across my shoulder. Not that it actually covers anything, but I feel it says, "This is me showing you that I am currently breastfeeding this baby and you might want to look away." I can't cover her entire head because every time I've tried to do it in my own house when we have company, she immediately jerks her head back (with my nipple still in her mouth) as if to say, "What the hell?!?"

You don't eat in the dark with a blanket over your head, and neither does she.

So spare me the "put a blanket over her head" malarkey.

Just don't look.

Why is this so hard?

I promise not to wear any more Maxi dresses and I promise not to whip my entire dress over my head in public even though you could look away in that event too. Ha. Breastfeeding in nothing but your panties and heels.

I wonder when they'll make that a federally-protected status? Woo!