I put it off for as long as I could. The night before I returned from maternity leave, my boss sent me an email asking if I could travel to Kansas less than two weeks later. I declined. I told him that as long as I was my child’s only source of food, I wasn’t leaving the area. He understood. A few other occasions for travel arose, and I quietly declined each one. But as my son was about to turn 10 months old, my boss asked me to travel to Kansas for an important meeting, and I simply couldn’t put it off any longer. So I agreed.
In preparation for my (overnight) trip, I carefully laid out all of my son’s clothes, diapers, and needs for each day for my husband. I made all of his food in advance, so there would be no question of what to send to the sitter with him. On my way to the airport, I sent my husband an email that was like a 500 word essay on why the pajamas that I had laid out for him simply wouldn’t work, explaining all of the reasons why, and dictating in detail which pajamas he should use and exactly where they were located in the second drawer of the baby’s dresser. Yes, I realize I sound insane. My husband, thank goodness, tolerates my insanity like a trooper. After feeling that I did all I could to prepare for my absence, off I went to the airport…
…where I waited. My flight was delayed an hour. I was hoping I could make it to Kansas before needing to pump, but alas, that was not to be my fate. I asked two female employees and the woman at the Delta Sky Club room. None could tell me of a private place at LaGuardia where I could pump. So I was left with the public restroom. I won’t go into details, but consider all of the sounds and smells that go along with being in a public restroom, and then consider what it is like to be in one for 15 minutes, while you prepare a meal for your child. Not fun. But I did what I had to do for my son. It was not, unfortunately, the last time I would endure this fate along my journey.
At last, we boarded. Then we sat on the Tarmac for two damn hours! After finally making it to Kansas, I once again had to resort to the public restroom to “prepare my son’s meal.” A rental car shuttle, and an hour drive later, with a quick stop at Walgreen’s for something to eat and drink, and I arrived at my hotel in Topeka. It was 10 pm (which felt like 11 to me). Another pumping session, and a few minutes to unwind put me in bed by 11, which gave me precisely 7.5 hours to sleep! Hallelujah! Or not. Any mom can tell you that when you’re given the opportunity to sleep, you often can’t. Sleep alluded me. I woke up at least 3 times during the night wondering if the baby was OK and why I hadn’t heard him, only after a minute or two remembering where I was.
So I started my day of meetings just as tired as if I had been up with the baby all night. I pumped in the hotel room, and in the rental car between meetings. In a whirlwind trip, I was in the rental car and on my way back to the airport by 2:30 pm! Sweet fate! That meant I didn’t have to rush, for the first time in recent memory. I took my time, stopping along the way to…yup, you guessed it…pump. My flight was scheduled to leave at 6:30. I arrived to drop off the rental car at 4:15. I figured I’d have a chance to pump one last time before my flight, so that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable along the way. Not so sweet fate jumped in once again! As I checked in, I noticed that my flight was delayed (no shocker there), so I asked if I could get on a different flight, to an airport closer to my home. To my surprise, the Delta worker said it wouldn’t be a problem. As He was printing my new boarding pass, I asked what time the flight leaves. He handed me the pass and said “in 20 minutes. Run!” Off I went, in a frenzied panic! I rushed through security, with an added check for the breastmilk I was carrying, and made it to the gate as they were boarding the flight. Only then did I look down and realize that I had to make a connection in Minneapolis. My flight from Kansas City was scheduled to land at 6:31. My connection was scheduled to leave Minneapolis at 7:04. I tried to relax and tell myself that I had plenty of time. It was the same airline after all, so the gates would probably be right next to each other. I could not have been more wrong. We touched down at 6:28. After taxiing for 5 minutes, we pulled in to gate F11. I quickly found a screen that informed me that my flight to Newark was leaving out of gate C4 and was currently boarding! Yikes! I sprinted, bags in tow, across the Minneapolis airport, making my flight just before they closed the doors! Woohoo! I was so relieved to get on that flight! Sweaty and winded, I squeezed into the middle seat, glad just to have a seat at all. Only after catching my breath and relaxing for a few minutes did I realize that with all the rushing, I had never stopped to pump at the Kansas City airport like I had planned. I felt the pressure build and knew what I had to do. My journey would include a dreaded 15 minutes in an airplane bathroom. Ugh! I just kept telling myself what my husband tells me when I complain about pumping…”I’m doing this for Jr. It’s for a really good cause.”
As our plane started its dissent into Newark, I experienced a weird stabbing pain above my eye. For a few minutes, I was sure I was either dying of Meningitis or an Aneurism. As we continued to come down, the pressure dissipated, and I realized it must’ve just been some sort of weird sinus pressure.
I finally arrived home at 11:45, where I was greeted eagerly by the Doucheb…I mean dog and two cats. I stored all of the fruits of my labor in the fridge, washed a few things I’d need for the next day, packed some things in the diaper bag, and finally climbed into bed just before midnight, where I waited. My husband snored, the sound of which was oddly comforting to me. For the first time, I found myself wanting the baby to wake up just so that I could hold him. I finally drifted off to sleep sometime after 12:30, to be woken up at 3:30 by my son. I’ve never been so happy to be woken up at 3:30 am in my life! As I sat and nursed him, I looked down at him in amazement and wonder about how this little tiny being became the center of my universe the moment he arrived. Two hours later, my alarm went off telling me it was time to start my day, and here I sit at my desk, happy to be home, and eager to get to the boy at the end of the day.
Being a working mom is not easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Throwing traveling into the mix complicates things infinitely, but I guess it’s what I have to do. I am sure this is not the last of my adventures as a traveling mom, but hopefully, they will get a little easier each time, like most things seem to.