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'A breast pump emergency left me expressing milk under food stall at a music festival.'

Breast pumps are interesting objects.

I clearly remember walking into the kitchen soon after acquiring my first pump, to see my perplexed husband trying to decipher which kitchen cupboard this extremely foreign object was supposed to go in. Did it belong in the Tupperware drawer or was it some type of utensil?

I then explained to him how this trumpet looking device was going to be the answer to all of our problems… soon he would get to share in the enjoyment of night feeds (and I may get a solid four hours sleep), we could top Miss A up after her bedtime feed in the hope that she may miraculously sleep through.

And most of all, a boozy night may even be possible, where I may actually see a little of my old non-­mum self again. Falls Festival was on the horizon after all! So the pumping began.

It wasn’t long before I realised this whole pumping revelation wasn’t so straight forward after all.

Problem one – STERILISATION. After thirty minutes of carefully putting my new toy together I realised it needed to be ‘sterilised’ before it could even be used for the first time (why do they write this at the END of the instructions?) Thankfully it turns out boiling water does the job.

"Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!"

Problem two - DEHYDRATION. Producing breast milk is bloody thirsty work, however with both hands in use holding the bottles, drinking is not an option. Unless you have the world’s longest straw, you have a prehensile tail or you are smart enough to strap a camel pack to your back, this human need cannot be fulfilled whilst pumping. I know some people have used the straps to keep the bottles secure without holding them. Kudos to those it works for, but I still need that tail.

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Problem three - SMALL HUMAN ENTERTAINMENT. When Miss A sleeps, I take the opportunity to do more important life tasks such as going to the toilet and shoving a piece of cold pizza down my throat. Therefore, pumping needs to be completed when Miss A is awake. This is where the play mat gets a real work out. I attach my two suckerfish to my nips and away my legs go at shaking that play mat like the damn thing is experiencing an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.5 on the Richter scale. On top of that, I’m impressed with how talented my toes have become at moving toys and rattles around to keep her amused (hmmm maybe my toes could pass me that drink of water?)

Problem four - IS THIS A FARM? The look on my father-in-­law’s face when he first heard the noise of my pumps was priceless. That noise that starts like a cow on amphetamines, then once let down hits, becomes rhythmic, deep and almost relaxing. It still sounds like a cow, just a little more docile. Which is quite ironic really... like a cow milking a cow!

Listen: Rebecca Judd talks about going back to work after having her first child.  Post continues below. 

Problem five - FURTHER DESTRUCTION. As if having a baby doesn’t change your body enough as it is, it’s just icing on the cake watching my once petite nipples get sucked into the strongest vacuum I have ever seen. When my life givers are being sucked by a small cute human, only what’s happening on the outside can be seen. However, thanks to clear breast shields, I get to witness my nipples becoming four times their size, both width and length, suddenly making them look more like lamb’s udders.

Problem six - STORAGE IN THE VAULT. After endless hours of hard work pumping these babies, the liquid gold they have produced needs to be stored. As volume increases, so do obsessive compulsive behaviours, such as checking the freezer door is closed properly several times throughout the night.

Finally, after Miss A took some time adjusting to drinking from something other than my mammary glands, we got to experience our first boozy day out, baby free. Hello Falls Festival! I was totally prepared for this day. I delivered Miss A, along with a set of intricate instructions and labelled frozen milk to my fabulous parents-in-law’s house. I then set off with my hubby, sunnies, ID, cash, an enormous smile and of course my breast pump, ready for my big day out.

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I missed Miss A dreadfully but a few beers certainly helped that and before I knew it I was rocking out with my best mates and having a ball.

However as anyone who pumps knows, once you leave bubs behind and are not feeding, breasts begin to resemble a Baywatch Pamela Anderson pretty quickly. Thanks to battery powered pumps, I found a comfy spot under a tree to discretely pump my enormous cans.

However, the battery had also decided to take a day off from having any responsibility and wasn’t working. Disaster! Luckily I brought the power cord. Power points for public use are the same as cheap drinks at festivals.... they don’t exist.

Portaloos are no use, and it’s not like Flume was going to let me plug into his electricity back stage. So my only option was to play the sob story to those who keep up our sustenance... the food vendors. Incredibly, the first stall we approached was run by a young guy who had experienced a wife who pumped, understanding the desperation of needing to milk the cow. He let me ‘plug in’... what a legend.

People were none the wiser when ordering their Chorizo burger that I was emptying my fun bags less than a foot away from them. The best part though was when my mate took the full bottles of milk from me, walked outside of the food stall and completed the ‘dump’ following the ‘pump’. It seems kids in their early 20’s are quite intrigued by breast milk, I think they assumed it was a new type of drink they were missing out on, like some kind of Red Bull.

Overall, the day was a success. It was brilliant to get my independence fix and I certainly drank enough to realise I hadn’t missed hangovers. Whilst pregnant I had this romantic notion that pumping was super easy and I was just going to fit it into my daily ‘relaxed life style with my perfect sleeping baby.....’ bahahahahaha what a joke!

I am so grateful that I have had the ability to pump, and yes, it has given me some independence which I have really enjoyed. However, it hasn’t been the walk in the park I thought it would be. I will continue to express occasionally to ensure I still get a night out here and there, but for now I shall be grateful that my bubs still likes a good old nipple suck.

One Merry Mum takes a lighthearted look at the joys and challenges faced by the modern day mother. As she recalls her honest and relatable experiences, a laugh is never hard to find. You can follow her on Instagram. 

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