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As a writer, I've always been interested in family stories. When I heard of a Satanic cult in my family tree, I thought I'd found the story of a lifetime. Read more.

Dear Marriott Hotel: Pumping is Weird for Me, Too

Dear Marriott Hotel: Pumping is Weird for Me, Too

Update: A representative of the Marriott reached out to me shortly after I posted this and offered me a better place to pump. Thanks, Marriott! 

I’m attending a writing conference there next month. My six-month-old is staying at home—he doesn’t much like conferences—so I called your office to see where I could pump some milk for him while I’m away. The person who answered the phone didn’t know what pumping is. Please allow me to explain.

First, you expose your breasts.

Then you position plastic shields over each of your nipples. You turn on the pump. Then you sit, holding the shields to your breasts, for ten or fifteen minutes, listening to the machine grunt and groan while your nipples stretch and elongate and spray milk.

Once you’re done, you remove the shields. You set the bottles down, being careful not to let them tip. The plastic tubing and the top-heavy breast shields make this tricky. You drip milk on the counter. You can’t help it; it’s inevitable. But if you’re lucky, you get most of the milk into a plastic bag. Then you store the plastic bag somewhere cold, reposition your boobs inside your bra and begin the laborious process of cleaning up.

Does this seem weird?

It seems weird to me, too. It seems weird and embarrassing and it took me six months to be able to use a breast pump without blushing. I hate every minute I spend pumping. But I pump anyway, three times a day, because it’s the best thing I can do for my child. Because breast milk makes him smarter and healthier and lowers his risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes.

This is what it’s like to pump in a public bathroom.

I don’t know, because I’ve never done it. Why would I sit on the dirty floor of a public restroom, my contorted nipples exposed to whoever walks in? Why would I prepare a meal for a baby with an undeveloped immune system in the same room where people defecate?

Does that seem weird to you?

It should.

You’ll excuse me, then, for politely declining your suggestion that I pump in a restroom. You’ll understand when I say that I need a better option.

This is what I need to pump: a private space with a chair, table and a power outlet. That’s it. The chair doesn’t have to be comfortable. The table doesn’t have to be big. The room doesn’t have to be spotless.

You call yourself “an extraordinary gem of a facility.” Your “generous amenities” include two onsite business centers, private dining, a lavish indoor swimming pool/whirlpool and two spa treatment rooms. You offer “abundant, flexible space of more than 90,000 square feet.”  

Surely within those 90,000 square feet, you can find a space for me to pump. A space that doesn’t include a toilet.

Or maybe you’re just not willing to try that hard.

Mushroom photo courtesy of Rigoberto Reyes (Creative Commons)

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