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Business suits and breast pumps in America: The Travel - Part 2

14:28 July 15, 2011


I had about 150 pages that needed to be printed for the presentation, including mocks of the new attractive labels we are implementing for the Nature Certified line of organic skincare.
I was feeling reasonably optimistic as our new customized bamboo containers for the soon to launch organic butters had come in just in time. The printing didn't go well though. After working all night, I had chosen to go to a small local printing shop in the morning. However, their system had trouble reading our files. After waiting an hour, I telephoned my husband and asked him to release me from waiting at the store.

My husband came over to the print shop while I went home to pump one last time before heading to the airport. Because we were running late and too many things required oversight, we called a car service to drop me to the airport. The car service came and was a little surprised to see my luggage. For a one-day trip I had a large suitcase filled with three of our premium organic gift baskets, product samples for the buyers, tablecloths and other marketing materials. I also had a standup banner, a laptop, a purse, and a breast pump (and accompanying paraphernalia for the pump.)

As a last-ditch attempt, I requested the car to stop at the print shop. My husband was not a happy camper. None of the pages had been printed three hours into the ordeal. The shop said they’d overnight it, but it didn’t make sense. I would have to do the printing at my destination.
Once I reached the airport, I went through the family line. I had begged security to let me go through as a favor since I didn’t want to miss my flight. In retrospect, that should have been the line I went through any way. Security wanted to test the milk residue on the pump. I was pulled aside as the breast pump and the contents were dissected and residue tested (I had no milk in the bag at this time.)

After what seemed like hours, but was less than thirty minutes, I was in the plane and ready to take off. Twenty minutes into the flight (about three hours since I last pumped), I walked to the back of the United Airlines plane to talk to the flight attendants about my pumping requirement. The two middle-aged women, one black and one white couldn’t have been nicer when I told them I wanted to pump. They offered me ice, and promised to keep the ice supply coming. I went with my gadgetry to the rest room thinking I would find an electric plug, but alas there were none. The hostesses had assumed I had a manual pump, and I took it for granted that they knew I went to the restroom assuming it had an electric plug. After informing the hostesses about my predicament and warning that I would be a while, I went in to express manually. Twenty minutes after hogging the bathroom, I returned with enough milk not to want to throw. The hostesses emptied out a coffee packet and filled it with ice. The pump and milk went back into the compartment and I returned the pump to the overhead bin. I really didn’t see much point of pumping any more as planned. The hostess came a couple of times as promised and asked if I wanted an ice refill. Before I got on in to MDT, Washington Dulles, I took them up on their offer.

MDT, unlike San Francisco did not have a mother’s feeding room or anything similar. I didn’t find out until after some awkward probing. The agent who uncomfortably answered my query, tried to be helpful by saying that perhaps I could use one the unisex family restrooms. Unfortunately, my connection to Pennsylvania was in a terminal far away that required me to take a train and then a bus. By then, my chest was feeling heavy and uncomfortable. I stopped at the first unisex restroom, threw away the water melted in my milk bag, and pumped. I called my Best Western (secured because of its proximity to my meeting location, and it price, both important factors for my small business) to ask if they had a refrigerator in the room. I explained that I needed it to store milk. Yes, the manager had confirmed. I also asked him where the closest place to get color printouts was and what time they opened. Staples he quipped was only a mile down and it opened at 8 pm. Feeling much better, I happily boarded my small plane to Harrisburg PA.
I reached the small airport at Harrisburg, got my rental just a little before midnight and began driving through unfamiliar territory. I didn’t have a GPS, partly because the car rental had run out of it (and partly because my business couldn’t afford to spend that money).

The drive was a little unnerving as the lights were scanty, the highway a single lane. I was happy to see my Best Western, and headed to the reception that was abandoned save for a night clerk.
Once in the room, I pumped for the last time for the night. I was exhausted and decided to skip pumping in the middle of the night, since I had the alarm set for 5 hours anyway.

I have to admit; it was a short but restful nap sans baby (ies).

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