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For Ye Who Enter, Pumping Here

On the days when I share an office, I tell my co-worker that I'm going to pump and she shuts and locks her door. Since our desks are separated by a large gray, partition wall, the only way she knows that I'm pumping is the loud whirring that fills the room. We both have a door that opens to our sides of the room, so basically there are two offices in one space. One day, I had started pumping without announcing it to her and she left her side of the room and opened the door. Instead of yelling to her a loud, "HEY HEY HEY!" (the cry often heard in my house when my son thinks it's okay to pour water outside the bathtub), I just continued to pump. When she returned and realized that I had been pumping the entire time, she said, "I"m sorry! I didn't mean to leave the door unlocked!"

"No worries," I replied. "If anyone walked in here, he or she would soon learn a lesson about walking in without knocking."

She laughed but then asked what if one of the higher-ups had walked in. "I guess I would never look at him in the eye again. There are just some things you see that cannot be unseen."

Now when I walk through the hall, I categorize people as those I wouldn't mind to see my pumping and others whom I would never ever want to bestow with that image. I know what it's like to try to scrub an image out of your mind and having no luck. When I was a child, I walked into my great aunt's room to find her undressed. That picture of her 80-year-old body with breasts so low at first I thought they were part of her stomach has never left me. It's even more shudder-worthy that she and I share DNA and therefore that very well might be my Ghost of Breasts Future.

If I were breastfeeding, I wouldn't care who walked in, but pumping is a different story. I'm in work mode. I'm called Ramona, not Mona. I wear business casual outfits. I shake hands firmly instead of tackling people with full-on belly-rubbing bear hugs.

I have thought of one way to keep people at bay. Instead of hanging a not-so-subtle sign that reads, "BREASTPUMP IN USE" (how boring!), I've thought of this very subtle, classy, and dare I say, polite message which would be tacked on a picture of cute cats: "Here are some kittens! Please save this image in your head, you'll need it later if you dare walk in."