Suck it up, Lamott

In her national bestseller, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, novelist/recovered addict/single mom Anne Lamott describes the painful indignity of pumping breastmilk:

"Have I mentioned how much I hate expressing milk? I do it nearly every day so there will be bottles of milk on hand for whoever comes by to take care of Sam, but I hate the fucking breast pump. It's the ultimate bovine humiliation, and it hurts, the suction is so strong. You feel plugged into a medieval milking machine that turns your little gumdrop nipples into purple slugs with the texture of rhinoceros hide."

Having never been hooked up to one of these infernal machines, I can't personally attest to the accuracy of Lamott's description. However, watching Anna suffer through the process these past three weeks leads me to believe Lamott is on to something, at least insofar as she goes. Humiliating? Sure. Painful? Absolutely. But going through this torturous ordeal "nearly every day"? Please. Cry me a fucking river. Anna hooks her boobs to the insatiable sucking machine at least every three hours. That's right - a minimum of eight times a day, every day, for the past three weeks. She hasn't slept through the night since she first went in to the hospital at the end of June, but now the interruptions are literally clockwork. So, add exhaustion - bone-deep, soul-crushing, mind-bending exhaustion - to Lamott's list of complaints. If that's not bad enough, there's the heartbreaking loneliness.
For Anna, the breast pump isn't an occasional inconvenience, but a constant reminder of what she's missing. Every time she hitches herself to the machine, she's reminded of her son, lying alone in the hospital. And all of this is compounded by the difficulty of producing milk in the absence of a flesh-and-blood baby to stimulate hormonal triggers. If I was in Anna's shoes, I don't know that I'd be strong enough to endure it. I certainly wouldn't blame her if she threw in the towel, but I don't think that thought's ever even crossed her mind. And for that, I'm in awe.


Blogger MommaS said...

Anna, I really can't wait to meet you. I breastfed/pumped for 9 months (until Colton had 8 teeth!), and I know how difficult it seemed to me. That author is a big, fat whiner. You are doing an outstanding piece of work. If you ever feel lost, or lonely, or just plain discouraged, remember you're doing it for the best reason in the world...Little Frankie. He's the focus of a lot of people prayers, as are you & Dave. Oh, and BTW, we NEED more pictures. Please. (Wasn't that polite at the end?)

6:11 PM  

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