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Chronicles of a New Mum: Work Travel Woes

Chronicles of a New Mum: Work Travel Woes

On Monday, I traveled to New York City for the day to meet with a new client. Since I’m a freelance writer and so much of my work is done virtually, it’s always great to meet face to face when possible. The train from Washington, D.C. (where I’m based) is about three hours long. So it’s doable to pop over for the day and back. I felt sad about being away from my daughter, especially missing bedtime. But work travel is such a rarity for me, so I tried to shake it off.

I packed up my computer and breast pump (more on that later), and headed to the train station. My morning went off without a hitch. I arrived in Manhattan with plenty of time to spare before my meeting. I even had a nice lunch at one of my favorite cafes. As I looked out the window, I noticed the sky turning dark, and blustery wind whipping against people’s coats and bags as they walked by. A quick check of the weather showed a huge storm brewing with 60mph hour winds. Not the news I wanted to see.

The meeting went well, and I was able to switch my ticket to an earlier time. “How perfect,” I thought to myself. “I’ll beat the bad weather and be home at a decent hour. I won’t even have to pump!”

I’m at the tail-end of breastfeeding, but I still figured it was a good idea to bring my pump since it was such a long day, and I still do a nighttime nursing session. Although my pump is small, it’s heavy, with lots of pieces and parts. Plus, I had to pack milk storage containers and the hands-free bra. Exactly what every woman wants to lug around in a cute tote bag all over NYC, right?

Upon arriving at the train station, I saw what every traveler dreads the most: the overhead board listing the train times—all of them with huge bold letters saying: “DELAYED” or “CANCELLED.” The storm was in full effect and there was zero information about when or IF any trains would be leaving.

I decided I should pump now, while I had time to spare, especially so I wouldn’t have to do it on a moving train in the (super gross) bathroom. Unfortunately, there are no designated spots for breastfeeding or pumping moms at the station, so I begrudgingly went into the public bathroom. I stood in a stall, surrounded by sounds of toilet flushes and hand dryers. I hung up my bag on the wall, put on my hands-free bra, hooked up all the tubes, flanges, and containers of my pump, and got started while trying not to touch anything around me. Not only was I stranded at a train station with no idea of when I’d be getting out of there, but I was stuck pumping in a public bathroom stall at one of the busiest train stations in America. To make matters worse, a woman in the stall to the left of me started screaming at the top of her lungs. I actually don’t think it was directed at me (since you could barely hear the sound of the pump amongst all the other bathroom commotion). But it was the last thing I needed to hear at that moment. I just wanted to burst into tears.

I quickly finished pumping, packed up my stuff, and learned the good news that my train would be leaving at 6:30pm. Maybe the day is turning around?

No, no it wasn’t…

I boarded, sat down in my seat and promptly got a terrible migraine. And I didn’t have any ibuprofen. And the conductor made an announcement that the train would be extremely delayed due to a storm-induced power outage on the tracks. SERIOUSLY?

I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but after six and a half hours on a train going at a snail’s pace, I finally made it home midnight. I have never been happier to be in my bed next to my husband, and see my sweet baby’s smiling face in the (very early) morning.