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Sep 20 2011

UN Day 2: The Sadomasochistic Juicer

By at 4:30 pm

It’s Monday morning, and I have a phone interview with the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations scheduled in five minutes. This should be a fascinating opportunity to get into the head of the person at the center of the maelstrom. The ambassador has only been on the job a few months, but has effectively been thrown in the deep end of the pool with Friday’s prospective showdown on Palestinian statehood. He’s a good person and I genuinely enjoy talking with him, and look forward to the interview.

It’s also coming up on time to pump my breasts, I can tell.  I decide to wait to do it until after he calls. My breastpump works splendidly, but when it does, it is accompanied by an unmistakable loud sucking sound that sounds like words depending on the speed of the pumping. Sometimes, the breastpump says, “Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort.” Sometimes it says “Crapper. Crapper. Crapper.” Unless the breastpump has any insights to offer into the Middle East peace process, I decide, I really don’t need it squeezing my breasts like a psychotic, sadomasochistic juicer gone rogue in the background over the phone.

On an intellectual level, I know that breastfeeding is best for my now-two-month-old baby. But on a selfish, “What about me?” level, I will say that it can be pretty goddamn irritating.

I realize we mothers aren’t supposed to say stuff like that. We’re supposed to say that we love bonding with our babies, that young cherub-like mouth at our breasts, and knowing that we are doing something wonderful for their development. That’s nice.

Well, I’ll come clean. My breasts have turned on me. They were once pleasant places of pleasure. Back in the day, I enjoyed them, and so did my husband.  And now they are drink dispensers, and are about as erotic as a soda dispenser at an Au Bon Pain. My boobs, and activities involving them, used to turn me on. Now my breastfeeding breasts make me angry. They tingle at inopportune times. They necessitate me going through UN security with something that, if you don’t know what it is, looks a hell of a lot like a bomb. And when I’m not with my baby, they make me a bitch on boobs.

The breasts used to be friendly. And now, they’re bitchy and mean. And maybe I am too.

I’m trying to get past my issues with breastfeeding. But the stress of this week on a professional level is not helping.  The tension at the UN ratchets up each day, and it’s palpable everywhere.  And stress, as we all know, is bad for breastfeeding, and therefore bad for baby.

“Be in a calm, soothing environment to pump,” some website instructed me in what I read as a somewhat condescending tone as I looked for tips on how to facilitate good “production” (because I am a cow) while milking myself. I wanted to talk back to the screen and say, “Hey, jackass – I’m the mother of three kids with a stressful job on a week where it looks like the entire Middle East is going to go up in flames. So tell you what – when you find that ‘calm and soothing environment,’ how about you book me a ticket there?”  Look, I love my life, but it’s got very few calm and soothing environments at the moment. I mean, look at me – I’m taking offense at random inoffensive websites.

The ambassador is now 15 minutes late. The boobs are getting angry. I write up my notes and finish my first story on the diplomatic machinations going on behind the scenes, gritting my teeth.  I send it in to my editor, and start a second story on the secretary general meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

A half hour late. I’m going to go put on my hideous pumping bustier and pump – too damn bad.  But before I can, the phone rings. I pick it up. It’s the ambassador’s spokesperson, telling me that he’s really pressed for time (go figure) and only has 10 minutes to talk to me…make that seven minutes. No problem.

The ambassador gets on and we exchange our hellos.  I start quickly, asking him what he thinks could possibly avert the outcome of Abbas making a formal appeal to the Security Council for statehood, maintaining all semblance of a normal professional doing her job.

“Well, I think the most important thing that would make the difference –  Oh. Just a minute, Jordana,” he says to me. “One second.”

He mutters under his breath. I wait. He talks to someone else in his office. I wait.

“Sorry about that,” he says as he gets back on the phone.

“No problem!” I say brightly. I will not think about my breasts.

“I can’t do two things at once,” the ambassador confesses. “You women are much more talented than us men at multitasking.”

Sigh.


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