The things she carried, part IV (or, Four bags and a baby)

Warning: If you are freaked out by words like “breast milk” and “lactation” (Lord knows I have my moments), you might want to skip this entry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thursday before last, after 20 weeks of baby bonding, I returned to work. The separation, though difficult, was made easier by the fact that I left my little chicklet in the capable hands of her father, who has begun his (significantly shorter) parental leave. I digress.

Like a lot of new mothers, I use an electric breast pump during the work day so that Chicklet can get as much breast milk as possible while we’re apart. Unlike a lot of new mothers, I schlep the breast pump to and from work on the bus. (I only work three days a week, you see, and I sometimes need the pump on off days and weekends.) The pump and all its associated parts pack well into the discreet, medium-sized duffle bag they came in, but carrying that bag and my regular bus chick bag, especially during crowded commute times, can be a challenge.

On my first day back, Bus Nerd and Chicklet had an appointment in Redmond in the late afternoon, so we decided to meet at Overlake Transit Center and ride home together. Between the three of us, we had four bags: diaper bag, bus nerd bag (Nerd is still resisting combining his stuff with Chicklet’s), bus chick bag, and breast pump duffle, which, in addition to the pump, contained several ounces of milk.

Having been away from Chicklet for the entire day, I insisted on strapping her on for the ride, so Nerd kindly offered to carry my bus chick bag and the pump. (The man has a virtually unlimited carrying capacity–a good quality in a bus nerd.)

The ride to Montlake was long (due in part to bad traffic and in part to a stupid decision to try riding the 256 instead of my beloved, reliable 545), the wait at the Montlake stop was longer, and the forty-late home was standing-room only. Chicklet and I were offered a seat in the front, but Nerd had to stand in the back with all the bags until a seat opened up. The whole experience required enough shuffling, stacking, and other maneuvering to throw off even the most seasoned bus nerd.

And throw him off it did.

A few minutes after we arrived home, my (helpful, well-meaning) husband realized he had left the breast pump on the long-gone 48.

There’s not much of a market (I hope) for hot breast pumps, so we weren’t afraid it would be stolen, but, given the inconvenience factor, the perishable milk, and the fact that the pump was loaned to me by a friend, waiting until the next day to pick it up at Metro’s lost and found was a last resort. Nerd considered chasing the bus in a cab (as he did during the November wallet fiasco) but decided instead to intercept the coach on its way back north.

He first called the rider information line to see if the folks at Metro could contact the driver for him. As expected, they said they could not, but they did tell him what time the bus was expected at our stop. Nerd watched Tracker until the bus got close, then went outside to catch it.

After enduring a rather public interrogation from the driver, which involved questions like, “What was in the bag?” and “What color was the pump?” (turquoise, for those who were wondering), my hero returned with an intact pump and couple of bottles of (thankfully) unspoiled milk.

Since that incident (much as it pains me), I have stopped taking my bus chick bag to work. I keep my wallet and phone in my coat pockets and shove an umbrella and the book I’m reading into the duffle with the pump. I feel naked without my bus chick necessities, but I don’t want to risk losing that crucial piece of equipment again, and it’s easier to keep track of one bag. (It’s also a lot easier to find a seat without so much stuff to carry.) And the good news is, I’ll only be schlepping the pump for a few more months.

Now if I can just figure out how to manage Chicklet’s stuff