Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Dog Ate My Breast Pump; A Love Story

What attracted me initially to Al was his guyness.  His scruffy faced, beer drinking, football watching, bodily function loving guyness.  I loved that he put on Carhartt jeans and a sweatshirt to go to work, and that he came home smelling of wood, covered in dust.

It fit perfectly with this guyness, his proclamation that he would never, under any circumstances be purchasing me pads or tampons. Ever. No matter what.  Because, surely, were he to purchase such things, the cashier would ignore his thick beard and deep voice and loudly demand to know if he was also in posession of a vagina.  Surely.


Procurement of sanitary products not being a relationship deal breaker, we ended up married and having a baby.

I'd obtained several weeks' worth of products prior to my son's birth.  With much respect to his guyness,  I'd planned ahead.

I hadn't planned on our son spending his first two months barely alive in an ICU hundreds of miles away from the home we'd made for him.

During those months, Al and I lived with his brother Don and his wife Penny only a half hour from Children's Hospital.  They graciously opened up their home to us and our dog Olive. They fed us, kept us in beer and wine, and tended to the dog when we couldn't.

Owen was born on a Monday.  My milk came in on Thursday.

I'd dreaded it happening.  I'd hoped that my body would somehow know that no baby would be coming anywhere near my breast, spare me that reminder, and stay dry.

But that Thursday morning, as I showered, I felt the tingle, and looked down in horror at the milk flowing down my body.

I started crying.  The screaming choking kind.   The cartoon geyser spurts which led to the irrational thought that my tears would deplete the liquid life that I knew I'd have to pump and deliver to the hospital.

I left the bathroom and called for Al.  I hated the thought of pumping instead of nursing, and there was no way in hell I was doing it alone.

He was still that guy, but he'd seen me birth a human, and then witnessed the emotional disembowelment that followed.  He could watch me do this.

And for the next several weeks he did.  Each morning before I left for the hospital, each night before bed. 

Every two hours, I'd leave Owen's bedside to pump. I filled the freezer in the ICU, and the one in Don and Penny's kitchen, with the little bottles of milk, as for many of those weeks, Owen was too sick even to recieve it.

I couldn't hold him or touch him or change him or soothe him.  My sole purpose, my reason for existence, was to collect and save this nourishment in hopes that he would one day benefit from it.

One Friday night, Al and I happened to be feeling up to going out to dinner with Don and Penny. It was nice to do a normal thing in the midst of the surreal turn our lives had taken.

I'd gone hours without pumping by the time we got home and headed upstairs to do my business. As soon as I walked into our room I saw the carnage;

The Dog Ate The Breast Pump.

All the cups and shields and tubing were completely chewed to shreds. Not a thing could be salvaged.  I didn't have any extras.

I lost it. Snapped. Hysterical crying, screaming at the dog. I could not go all night without pumping. Still carrying my free pass for irrational thoughts, I worried that my milk supply would suffer irrevocably if I had to wait until the next day to pump.

Don and Penny just so happened to live across the street from a hospital. The second this realization hit Al, he dashed out the door and ran over to see if he could find me some supplies.

There went my guy, on a mission to ask a bunch of strangers for breast pump supplies.

A minute after he left, Penny gasped, and told Don and me;

"That hospital doesn't have a maternity department."

As we waited, we imagined poor Al, explaining our situation to who knows how many people, and likely people who wouldn't be able to help.

He returned after an hour or so, head hanging in defeat. The people whom he met at the hospital were brought to tears, touched by our story.  They tried very hard to locate the supplies, phone calls were made, Al was sent to different floors, to tell the tale to more tender hearts who would have to disappoint him.

Poor Al felt so helpless, he just wanted to make it all better for me. As I tried to reassure him that I'd be ok until the morning, Don shook his head, and giving his brother a proud pat on the back said;

"You took one for the team dude, you took one for the team."


  1. Awwwww. He's awesome. Go Al, go!

  2. He's a keeper. And I am a crier! Anything breastfeeding related, especially when it involves tramautic birth stories, turn me into a crazy sobbing mess. So thank you for that!

    How long did you end up pumping for little Owen anyway? I am in awe of you doing it all! (Excuse my rudeness I am obsessed with breasts, I mean breastfeeding!)


  3. I am pretty sure I would have killed my dog had she eaten my breast pump, as both my babies were non-nursing hospital babies and pumping was the most important thing in my existence. Anf for Jill, who is obsessed - my babies eventually nursed some then gave it up - I pumped 15 months for one and 18 months for the other.

    My husband had to help me get my first baby nursing by "priming" the nipple/breast shield with a sryinge of expressed milk to trick the baby into thinking it was easy, but I needed both hands to hold the baby and position the breast. These are some reasons I keep the man even tho he makes me batshit crazy. I love Al.

  4. Dogs are SUCH a pain in the ass. Good thing they're cute.

  5. Yeah, Al! Now go get that vasectomy, buddy.

  6. Breastfeeding was such a colossal pain in the ass for me that I wish I'd had a dog so that it could eat the pump.

  7. Jill, I pumped for 11 weeks, until it was clear he'd never take a bottle let alone nurse. I could have given him breast milk through his feeding tube, but I wouldn't have been able to produce the volume he needed and what I did produce would have needed to be fortified with extra calories.

    With Bea? She wouldn't take a bottle til she was 5 months old, so I nursed exclusively. I nursed her for almost 17 months.

    Yay Universe!! Boobs are great!

  8. love makes people do all sorts of things they never swore they'd even think about doing. ♥

  9. Al - Superdad!
    Olive - Superbad!
    It's fun to watch all the things these manly men will do for love. A very funny beautifully told story.

  10. Oh men! They say these silly things and then when we need them they will go to to the end of the world for us. I too would have sobbed if I'd found my pump murdered. We were lovers until my daughters severe reflux and high palate was finally identified and I threw that clingy bitch in the closet!

  11. Dude breast pumps are one of the worst necessary evils I know.

    Do you have to buy al his own sanitary pads now??

  12. stupid dog- i can't imagine the meltdown i would've had when i was pumping...but what a great story!! and what a great guy :)

  13. He is a keeper.

    And you deserve a medal for not disemboweling the dog. That shows some serious restraint.

    The last time my husband had to buy me pantiliners he came home and chucked the entire package at my head after a particularly grueling experience at the local grocery store. It took me a good ten minutes to stop laughing.


    Your husband is an awesome guy.

  15. what a great story---I would've lost my shit over that, too. I don't know if hubs would've gone to such great lengths for me, though....LOL!

  16. That sight with the breast pump in shreds would have been the last straw for me, too.

    In the beginning, with my first baby in NICU, I played the insanity card and often, and no one questioned my actions.

    Good times.


  17. Dammit woman, I come to you for swearing and now you make me cry! ;-)

  18. What a man!

    Because... really... real men aren't threatened by pads or breast pumps!

  19. Wow! What an a amazing story! And what a great guy! My husband was the same. He would never purchase any sanitary products but after Peanut was born his whole world changed. On a side note, I started leaking colostrum on Mother's Day and my Peanut wasn't born until August! Talk about freaky! We also had a very traumatic birth story! I am so glad that he is well. I am also so happy to have found your blog through Erin and Tracie!

  20. awww...what a guy...see now that is love...

  21. I would have killed the dog. Al on the other hand, deserves a trophy!

  22. I think I love Al. (and the guyness? SWOON!)
    I was pump crazy and would have had breakdown of epic proportions if anything had happened to my breast friend.
    BTW, the manual pump...not something you want to do in a moving car, sharing the back seat with your father in law. Just take my word for it.

  23. It's been a long time since I've nursed anyone, but reading that made my boobs ache.

  24. Nice to see Al got in touch with his womanly side for you.

  25. If he never did anything else for you - that showed he cared. Precious and just in time for Valentines Day too! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Now I'm in love with the guy! What a good man.

    I totally forgot about periods and such and came home from the hospital without a thing to my name. Kevin had to go to Walgreens one evening. He's a good man. I love him dearly.

  27. I just remember how bad my boobs hurt if I didn't nurse or pump for a while. ouch. but yeah, yay universe, boobs are great. and yay, all, for taking one for the team.

  28. omg, dogs are fucking idiots.

    Awesome story though.

  29. This of course made me cry, please tell me you figured out how to hand express because my boobs practically exploded just from reading that! Also did you rename the dog Lucky (to be alive)?

  30. First, please excuse my absence Tulpen, life has been sucking lately. But this story - god, this story! I've said it before, but you are a born storyteller. Yeah, you married a guy. A really good guy.

    And the milk? Owen benefitted immensely. I know that for a fact.

  31. And this is why I miss blogging (and your writing). What a tale well told.

    Happy Valentine's to you and Al.

  32. Sweetest ending ever (and do not tell anyone I had a tear or two in my eye).

  33. You have an incredible husband!

    He stepped up and did something that if asked he probably would have never done.

    This is a great story! Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  34. Don't ever let that one go! What a guy. That made me cry and smile all in one.

  35. you have yourself one good dude. hold on to him! he is a keeper! :)

  36. There is something about seeing the softer side of manly men that makes me all swoony.

  37. that is the best valentine's day tribute I have ever heard. My milk might come in three months early just thinking about it. And brave Al. And you. And owen. And Don and Penny. And your dog. And all sorts of people and animals I don't even know.

  38. That's just about the most romantic thing I've ever read.


    Happy Valentine's Day! (cheers)

  39. This post is gorgeous! I wandered over to your blog from Erin Margolin's site. I have a little boy named Owen whose name was also inspired by the John Irving book.

  40. Okay, that's it. I thought I was so freaking original naming my kid after Owen from Owen Meany. Except that Victoria and you and Kori all did the same thing.


    This story kicks ass. And I would have considered kicking that dog.

  41. what a great story! al is totally a keeper. the hubs is a lot like al---swore he'd never buy pads etc. and yet, whenever the chips are down he comes through. i think when manly men go that extra mile it is even more heart warming.

  42. I have had to buy those things from time to time. Never remember exactly what I am supposed to get without a list.

    He sounds like a good guy.


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