I still have a year left of college. This would not be the case had I actually GONE TO CLASS my freshman year (insert imaginary slap here, right across 18 year old Jessie’s face). But alas, here I am, 26 years old and finishing up my degree. I took a few years off for a full time job running an after-school program, but I’ve been back to the books since last fall. Sam and I have put a lot of money and time into my education, and we’re both excited to finally be looking at the end.
You might be wondering why I didn’t wait to have a baby until after I graduated, to which I say, “Dad, is that you?” Here’s the thing. I knew I could finish school with one baby. Probably not two. So we decided to try and get this family started, and I would work hard to graduate before another Horney made their way into the world. Granted, it probably would have been easier if I’d waited, but you guys. Look at her.
Worth it. Totally worth it.
I’m taking an intersession class that started today. Intersession classes earn you 3 credits in 3 weeks, which makes for a bananas work load. It will make the rest of my spring semester more open to be home with Smoochie, so again- totally worth it. But it’s also a little complicated for breastfeeding.
Yep. Here’s comes a boob story.
Today at school, I found myself standing with my shirt pulled up and a baby bottle attached to my chest, the steady pulsing of my breast pump echoing across the cracked tile and cold ceramic toilet of the last stall in the women’s restroom. We had a 15 minute break during our 3 hour writing class, and I needed to take care of my milking as quickly as possible. In a stall. With an electric pump. The similarities to a dairy farm were so astounding, you could have sizzled a brand across my ass and called me Bessie and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
As I closed my eyes and thought about my daughter, conjuring up how she smells and feels in my arms when I nurse (I’d heard that helps when trying to pump) I tried to ignore the other patrons coming in and out of the bathroom, peeing and flushing right next to me and my little lactation station. The break drew to an end and I willed my milk to hurry and finish squirting into the bottle so I could get back to class on time. I heard someone washing their hands, and waited for the tell-tale squeak of the door to shut as they left. Instead, I heard a woman’s voice.
“Are you pumping milk?”
I opened my eyes in surprise. And embarrassment.
“Yeah, I am.” I laughed a little to make myself feel less mortified.
The unseen woman paused, then spoke again.
“Listen- my name is ( ) and my office is down the hall. (she gave me the office number) You can pump in there if you want to, anytime at all. I have a private space for you to sit with a nice view of the river, and a little fridge you can keep your milk in until you’re done with class. Come by anytime and let me know what you need, ok? It’s better than doing it in a bathroom, believe me. Been there, done that, and I totally understand. I’d love to help you if you need it. It’s hard being a new mom. (Gives me her name and office number again, then leaves.)
As the door squeaked close behind her, I zipped up my pumping equipment and lifted my bag off the hook on the back of the stall door. I had cried twice on the way to school that morning, not including the crying I did before I left my house. It’s not that I think Clara won’t be ok with other people- I have the best group of friends and family you could imagine, all willing to watch her anytime- it’s just that, this is the end of a special time in my life. I’ll never be a first time mom again. I’ll never have four months at home with just my sweet daughter, getting to know each other and falling head over heels in love. I have to go out in the world. I have to finish school, and I have to be me without always having her.
So when a stranger talks to me through a closed bathroom stall door and offers a quiet place to pump breastmilk, my nutrition for a little girl who I miss so much my heart might stop in the middle of class…I’m thankful. Thankful for kind people. Thankful for the friends and family watching my baby. Thankful for my husband and his commitment to my dreams. But most of all, I’m thankful for a heavenly Father who knew just what I needed to get through this first day of school. And who knows just what I need to get through every day. Thank you Lord.
Horney readers: Whether you hear the sad sound of a breast pump in a bathroom or know a friend who could use a hand, take the chance to be kind. The world needs it.
Smooch and I need it. 🙂
Love you guys.