“Whaaaaa! Whaaaaa! Whaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!”

In my dream the sound was a siren. I was getting pulled over for speeding. In real life, the sound was my newborn and his siren cry was pulling me out of bed for a feeding.

I ricocheted down the dark hallway like a pinball.  “Bump. Bang. Bump. Bang.” (Which could be lyrics to a Black Eyed Peas song.. but alas, they are not.  They are  the sound of a mom- literally bouncing off the walls.) A Great Salt Lake of tears streamed down my face.  Not from the pain of ricocheting off walls… but from the pain of sheer exhaustion.

“You can do this.. you’ve done it before…this season of mothering doesn’t last long and  you’ll miss it when it’s over.  It’ll be ok.” I mumbled as I bounced.  I considered slapping myself for being unsympathetic. Instead, I argued back:“I don’t care how long it lasts.. or if I’ll miss it eventually…I’m TIRED, NOW.  I need sleep or I’ll lose it!” ( Just a tip… a sign that you’ve already lost it.. is when you are arguing with yourself and feel fully justified in slapping yourself. )

I took a deep breath before I picked up my little hunger siren.. I mean, my newborn.  Together we headed for our nursing spot on the couch. I wondered if I’d be able to go back to sleep when we were finished… (ok- I desperately hoped we would.) I had to force my eyes to focus on the glowing read out on the stove top: 4:43 a.m. “I need to get up to get the other kids ready for school by 5:30.”  While settling into the miraculous comfort of nursing…I struggled to do the time-math… “It takes 45 minutes to nurse…so I’ll have  …UGH.  2 minutes to sleep. There is no point going back to bed.”

Which is the last thing I remember before being awakened by my middle schooler. “Mom, Am I going to school today?” He asked-in a tone that communicated he was hoping the answer would be: “No.”

I looked at the cable box...”Crap. We’re gonna be late.”

It was 7:15. “UGH.” Somehow (more…)

My hands trembled just a bit as I buttoned the pink silk blouse.  I felt like a busty- rebel.  For a nursing mom- DRY-CLEAN ONLY was not just risky– it was downright DANGEROUS.  (Just how dangerous I was about to find out. The Hard way.) This day was special. I was going to a MOPS event, just over the state line. (A regional event in Toledo- Ohio) I was looking forward to entire day devoted to building up MOM’S. That’s ME!  It was within driving distance and more importantly, within the range of security for a nursing mom.  (Just over an hour from home.)  A Mom’s day out- a Mom’s day of refreshment..  The first since my second child had been born.. I needed it– BAD. I’d been planning and pumping extra milk for days.  But, now?  I was nearly ready.

I stepped back to take a look at the over-all effect.  “Not too bad”  I said to myself.  Black dress pants.. pumps… pink silk blouse, full make-up AND hair  both washed and styled on the same day (*gasp* amazing…I know!). I grinned at myself in the mirror.  I double checked that breast-pads were in place and well secured and hidden in my NON-NURSING BRA.  (… a bra without flaps– this was truly a big day out..) I made sure I had an extra set in my purse.

I checked my watch, “Just enough time, for one more nursing before I leave.”  I grinned at my preparedness.  For a nursing mom- “empty before leaving the house” is just as important as for a mom getting a potty-training toddler into the car for a long ride..

I tiptoed into the baby’s room sat down in “our” chair and we both enjoyed one more for the road….quiet early morning nursings were some of my favorite times.   When we were done- I took him in to a sleepy daddy, I kissed them both.. then went to the kitchen to go over my list one more time.

1) Pumped Milk in freezer- check.

2) Formula and bottles on the counter in case of emergency- check.

3) Diapers- clothes and necessary baby supplies phone numbers and instructions – out and visible so daddy could find them even if he were truly..blind.. check.

4) Cell phone charged and ready.. check.  (this was an old school cell phone- about the size and weight of my current laptop.. It’s been a while)

I was as ready as possible.

Time to go.  I felt a twinge of sadness as I pulled out of the driveway. I headed over to meet my girlfriends – and we drove on together.  Guilt and giddiness fought for control of my postpartum emotions as we crossed the state line. Giddiness won. I was out for petes sake!

We arrived on time.. (something rare for a groups of nursing moms) We took our seats- and enjoyed the entire day.  There were laughs… there were happy tears as I heard things that reminded me how much I love being a mom… and a few happy tears of relief as learned I wasn’t “the only one”.

The day offered up everything I’d hoped for, and needed.  Fun- encouragement-something to challenege me and make me think,  girlfriend time and mommy time.  I missed my guys- but was relieved that everything went so well.  My check-in calls (oh, probably enough of them billed one minute at a time..to fund the current economic crisis relief plan…) revealed that the frozen milk supply was holding out.. and the diapers were too. Added bonus- I didn’t hear crying in the background. (much).  SCORE.

When my girlfriend asked if I wanted to stop on the way home to eat… I should have known I was pressing my luck.  But- I was having sooo much fun….. and I had everything “covered” with my preparedness…and things were well at home…so I figured, “why not?”

There was one thing I hadn’t counted on.. A newborn baby crying at the restaurant.. and the power of milk-let-down on a pink silk blouse.  The baby’s cry sounded like “Danger, Danger Will Robinson!” But, it was too late. My milk let down like a bad levy.

HELLO.  DRY CLEAN ONLY?  More like GARBAGE ONLY.  There were not enough extra breast pads in North America to soak up that mess. When that tiny baby started to cry– my Mom-ness kicked into overdrive. In record time- I drenched the entire front of my blouse, which- promptly turned see through.  I was now busty- (a bonus to nursing)  and see through-    OOPSY.  Not the look I was going for.

I ran into the bathroom- “”GREAT.. no papertowel”  Save the trees, but soak the moms” I thought to myself..I  aimed the hand dryer down my blouse in an attempt to dry up the mess.. it didn’t exactly work.  I made powdered milk.  Yuk.I hadn’t planned for this.  I didn’t know what to do… My tears flowed just a little slower than the milk.

The moms I was with, found a sweater for me in someone’s bag.. and together- they brought it into the bathroom for me. (Friends, don’t let friends, drive soaked.) I slipped it on.  It wasn’t my sassy pink dry-clean only– but it was DRY.  That’s when the silly began.  The other moms had all been there- or somewhere like it in the land of Mom…They rolled out breast feeding horror stories that made us all laugh until breasts weren’t the only thing at risk of leaking….the bathroom turned into an impromptu MOPS Meeting...

It didn’t take long before I felt better.  Soggy- but better.

We drove home still laughing.. and talking and giggling… I wondered if my hubby would notice that I had changed my top.. (He didn’t,of course.) I arrived home to a hungry baby.. and plenty of milk to feed him. (apparently it doesn’t take THAT MUCH milk to soak the front of a silk blouse..)

At the end of the day– I wondered if it was worth the work..

preplanning- and milk pumping- 10 + hours

writing out instructions and worrying in advance- countless hours..

cost of a trashed clearanced pink silk blouse- $24.  (I just couldn’t figure out how to explain a breast milk stain the size of Texas)

A day of encouragement, refreshment and connection with other moms?

If you can make it to a MOPS event in your area– I can’t recommend it enough…it’s worth the time the expense and the preparation.. a hundred times over… – I also recommend wearing wash n wear.. and maybe a raincoat for a blouse if you’re nursing:)…. you won’t be the only one.. that’s for sure:)

PS- if YOU ARE at a MOPS event- or anywhere else for that matter- and see a busty woman in a soaked see-through top—don’t hate on her… offer your sweater or jacket to her– really- she’s probably not holding her own wet-t-shirt contest… she’s just a nursing mom at the end of a mom’s day out….:)