Episode 46: A Corporate Lactation Program

I logged in to our time clock application this morning: Double click to open the kiosk, enter employee number, enter last four digits of social security number (oooo, how secure). Ah, there you are. Let’s check and see when I’ve been arriving at work. Yep, lookin’ good (for me):
8:11 AM
8:09 AM
8:05 AM
8:26 AM
8:16 AM

Let’s check and see how much paid time off I have accrued. OH BEAUTIFUL VACATION HOW SWEET IT IS: 89:10 hours just waiting for me to sign up for on the calendar. I need to come up with a way to trick my boss into letting me use those. Last year, it was, “Hey, I’m going to Portland, where you used to live and I need some suggestions on where to go… oh yeah? Multnomah falls? Sounds good. Oh, yeah, and will you approve my vacation, please? It’s in four days and I already bought the flights. Thank you.” Yep, I got the vacation.

Okay, back to the time clock application.

Let’s check and see how much long-term sick I have accrued: HOLY FRAGRANT B.M., BATMAN, THAT’S A LOT OF SICK TIME: 264:53. So if I want to use that I have to do one of three things: really get injured so I have a doctor’s note about why I’m staying home or in the hospital for 33 days; find a doctor friend who will write me a note and a really good reason like, “Her imaginary therapist (whom she fired) says she needs a mental break for 33 days or she’ll go seriously insane”; or, have a baby.

Looks like I won’t be using that sick time for a long time, but that brings me to my next topic: having a baby.

I was talking to Stacky last week.

“Hey, you look pregnant.”

She’s due at the end of July and I’ve known since almost the start. See how funny I am saying things like that? We laughed so hard.

No. We didn’t. Stacky just looked at me and said, “So, I look fat?”

I quickly changed the subject to something much less awkward.

“So. You’re going to be breastfeeding before too long now.”

Yeah, I’m pretty smooth. And somehow, instead of giving me an odd look, she started talking about some of the things that she’s purchased already, some of which are related to breastfeeding, but let’s not really go into details here. And then I found out about our company’s HUGE SECRET.

Did you know that companies have corporate lactation programs?

Yeah, you read that right: a lactation program.

Somebody in HR was sitting around one day thinking, “Hmm, wonder what kind of a benefit program I could come up with today because I don’t have anything else to do this moment.” She looked over at a picture of her little baby and thought about how right this moment, she’d really LOVE to have a private place to pump some milk.

Yep. That’s how it went down and the next day, the lactation room was created.

So now I have a new mission at work and it has nothing to do with testing web applications. Somewhere there is a locked door and behind it, is a serene room with soothing music, comfortable chairs and, if I was the designer, a couple of hammocks.

We have a lactation room somewhere.

They give out keys to this secret room.

It’s a benefit I had no idea existed.

Did I mention that there is a SECRET lactation room somewhere?

I’m going to go for a walk now. There’s a door down the hall that I haven’t checked behind yet.


  1. Having been an in-office pumper for a time, I just have to comment on this. This is not just some program for someone who was bored to dream up. Try to imagine sitting in your cube (which has walls to the ceiling, and a private door, but paper-thin walls all the same), connected to a machine in places you’d rather not most people to see, feeling like a dairy cow, cranking up the music so the people in the three cubes with whom you share walls hopefully can’t hear the repeating drone of your pump, with the door locked. When someone knocks on your door, which is most almost open (except while pumping), you are obviously in there, but you pretend not to be. You try to respond to all your instant messages while maintaining the pump in place, as the ensuing mess could get all over. Then, when you’re done, you try to inconspicuously slip out of your cube with a little black cooler that needs to be refrigerated, and remember most of your co-workers are male and don’t want to know what you were doing in your cube, so they try to ignore the little black cooler in your hand as you make your way to the break room. Those are times I didn’t miss once they were gone. We did have “health rooms” at Novell. However, in order to use them, you had to call security to tell them you were using it and why so they didn’t come and barge in on you, looking for people who try to live at Novell (yes, it’s happened). I didn’t particularly want to call security everyday to tell them when I’d be pumping 🙂 In summary, I applaud your work for providing a service that makes one of the awkward parts about being a working mom a little easier.


  2. Yeah, I didn’t work when I was a nursing mommy, but I did pump and it’s really something you would want a special lactation room for. Good idea, someone! And, as Sabrina said, you really do feel like a cow. Dustin never said anything, but I’m pretty sure he was slightly disturbed the few times he watched me pump. I enjoy being a girl….

    But, what I was really going to say, before I got sidetracked with Sabrina’s comment about feeling like a cow, was that you better be careful while searching for the lactation room… if you open the wrong door, you just might end up in a straight jacket at UNI!


  3. As the only gal for a long time in this office, when I got pregnant it was a big deal. Not big enough for a lactation room, which there is no way I would have used anyway.

    However the next year when several women were hired, with one being pregnant, they put in a fancy room, soft lighting, TV, Oprah magazines, zebra print throw pillows etc. And the door locked and had a “do not disturb” sign. Seems fair when the guys have their pinball table, gaming computers, big screen TV complete with the Wii system, popcorn machine, ice cream freezer etc. Wait a minute, maybe that isn’t so fair.


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