Don’t Cry Over Spilled Breast Milk

POSTED ON 23/02/2016

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Breast Milk

When I first returned to the workforce, I was still nursing. I started a new job–one that was supposed to be less stressful and less time-intensive. Predictably enough, that didn’t prove to be the case. And within my first week, I was working weekends and nights on a big client pitch, one that would put the agency near extinction if we lost.

I had a nice office assigned to me. We were right in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. But this lovely office with the pleasant views and wraparound desk lacked one essential: blinds. Blinds not only out onto the patio but to the hallway where all my brand new colleagues, mostly in their 20s, traipsed by. And there was no nursing room. So I typically would pump in my car using a battery pack and a Hooter Hider. And I would hope no one knew what my little cooler in the fridge really had in it.

But then one Saturday I arrived to work and found my batteries were dead. We had a lot to do, and I had no time to leave for the store. And as each hour passed (and I called my husband to tell him to forget lunch, forget dinner, etc.), my boobs got harder and harder. Finally, around 4 p.m. I was practically sinking to the floor with the weight of these (now leaky) mountains. No bag of frozen peas was going to ease the pain. (And by the way, never try to soothe your boobs with Creamsicles–they melt in embarrassing ways…but I digress).

I finally found the one other woman in her 30s (she didn’t have kids yet but could at least imagine it), told her my problem and we searched until we discovered that one colleague actually did have an office with blinds, not blinds to the patio but at least to the hallway. She wasn’t there that day and so finally I snuck away. I was going to be free. And when that milk started coming, me slumped in a corner over her desk, back to the patio, it was like heaven. And the milk kept coming and coming.

Now if you are a working, breast-feeding mother you know that inexplicable joy that comes from having a full bottle of expressed milk. It is pure gold. It’s a new car, a diamond ring from Tiffany’s, a trip to Italy, a date with George Clooney back when you were both single. And you have worked damn hard for that gold. Likely you’ve drank mother’s milk tea, chosen beer at parties, consumed tons and tons of fluids, all with the hope of keeping your breast milk flowing even when you are in an office all day.

So imagine how I felt when I spilled two entire bottles of it. All over my colleague’s papers.

What did I do, you ask. I did what any deranged mother would do. I whipped off my nursing apparatus, found the other 30-something, began bawling and begged her to come help me clean up my milk before anyone saw. She did so calmly and as if this was not a weird thing for a virtual stranger to ask. And for this I am eternally grateful. She even helped me dispose of the ruined documents, which were thankfully never missed (proving once again that printouts are a waste of time).

And on Monday I demanded a nursing room.

OK, maybe demand is a strong word. Maybe I just asked. Politely even. And my boss (a male) said of course, no problem, why didn’t you ask in the first place?

Good question. I think that as women in the workplace we are often embarrassed of the physicality of being a mother. Like having to pump reduces you to a cow. Don’t do that to yourself. Speak up for what you need, take the breaks you need to take care of your boob business, and kick ass the rest of the day.

And make your little pumping room an oasis. Don’t feel guilty–read while you pump..and I’m not talking print-outs (remember what I said about those). Read Us. People. You know the 20-somethings are doing it on conference calls. Give yourself a little break.

And know someday, like me, you’ll see people in those little rooms with the blinds down, and a part of you will miss those small stolen moments and the liquid gold Mommy got to bring home, along with her paycheck, each week.

Originally published by OptBackIn, visit their blog at for great content and advice for women re-entering the workforce.