This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a conference for work. Now, let me preface this by saying that while I finished my master's three years ago and have been in the business world for almost two years now, I am not the kind of woman who "goes on business trips." I drive a really shitty Sunfire. I wear TOMS or flip flips to work every day, and until a year ago, I was still bartending on the weekends to make ends meet. The idea of a business trip was completely foreign to me.
When my boss proposed I go, I briefly lamented leaving my four-month-old baby, toddler, and seven-year-old, but the feeling passed. Quickly. This was the most grown-up thing I'd ever been asked to do! I was getting hotel room! "Expensing" valet parking! And the keynote speaker was a bona fide celebrity.
Still, I pushed those thoughts away, and focused on the miraculous concept that in a few short hours, I'd be in a brand new luxury hotel room entirely by myself. No kids. No lunches to pack, diapers to change, infants to nurse in the purple blackness of 4 a.m. Sure, the conference was only 77 miles away, but the idea of being alone in a hotel room was all the exotic I needed. (I'd often joked with Lee when birthdays and Mother's Days rolled around that what I truly wanted was a hotel room to myself.)
Then, it all fell apart. I forgot my breast pump and had to drive all the way home (cue Round 2 of dramatic goodbyes) and all the way back. I finally, got to my room a little past midnight, tried to unwind with some Facebook and TV, and decided to pump around 1 a.m. before collapsing. I got comfy, opened my pump bag and --
I was exhausted, emotional, and approaching engorged. I tried to hand express a couple ounces, and set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier, giving myself time to stop somewhere on the way to the conference to find batteries.
In the morning, I hand expressed again (messy, unproductive, and a little painful), and discovered the mini-fridge in the room only had the low alcohol setting, so my icepack was useless, and I worried about the state of my milk. But, I was a savvy business lady, right?
I stopped in the hotel restaurant, asked the waiter to fill my cooler bag with ice, found a CVS and bought batteries, and even managed to navigate my way to the convention center. After sitting through opening remarks, I finally found a bathroom and properly pumped. The rest of the conference was somewhat consumed with finding appropriate times to sneak off the the bathroom stall and unload.
By the end of the first day, I limped back to the hotel (because, yes, I thought this was the appropriate time to wear heels for the first time in over a year), grabbed Chipotle, half-heartedly tried to feel luxurious, but spent most of the night looking at the crappy picture I took of my kids the morning I left.