After my last work day in Japan I came back to the hotel to pick up my bags before heading to the airport. Not something I always have time to do but in this case was super glad to be able to accommodate. I had prepared another note from my co-worker to compliment the Freezer In note that explains why I needed Breastmilk to be frozen, this one, Freezer Out describes the situation of having asked to put something into the freezer at a prior date that now is being picked up. I had originally imagined a scene trying to communicate that I had something in a hotel freezer that needed to be retrieved. Maybe I could get milk into the freezer but really could I expect to get it back? In practice I had been surprised that the bellhop card literally had a notation for freezer and had some confidence with this card that I might not need my note after all. Sure enough, the Freezer Out note was not necessary, in swept my frozen milk on a golden luggage cart. Perfectly ready to be unpacked in the middle of the hotel lobby.
Pumping moms have amazing stories of places where they’ve pumped, it makes me feel like I can pump anywhere and everywhere too. But when facing the moment of actually pumping in a bizarre place I can’t help but stop and just take in the moment. OK we really have to do this now which means we have to do it right here, where we are now, and THIS?! is where we are. OK let’s do it. In this case I wasn’t pumping but in a lot of ways I wished I were. If I were I could find a cozy chair and set up under a nursing cover. No, what I needed to do NOW was make a cooler that could be checked luggage on the airplane. Half of my shit was in the freezer and half of my shit was in the cooler and now it all needed to be in the cooler so that I could spend the next hour and change bouncing through train stations. Which literally meant taking the breastmilk out of the cooler that was essentially a bath of watery/ice to put it into the par frozen vessels which then needed to be nestled between newly frozen ice packs which needed to go from the duffle bag into the cooler. Maybe I would need to drain out some ice and water, I wasn’t sure. The freezer packs and vessels alone are a tight fit.
I didn’t end up needing to drain the cooler but the hardest part was trying to move lose ice around with my hands to fit in the packs and the vessels. So long as people passing by didn’t take too long of a glance it just looked like a frantic mess of repacking. Oh that crazy woman is having a moment. But there were a few moments that were truly revealing, like having to remove six bags of breastmilk from the ice bath and put them into a the vessels, no matter how short a glance you’d see me lifting dripping wet bags of milk across the marble floor from one container to another. Or the moment when I realized there was more milk than the vessels could hold leaving me with a large zip lock bag of breastmilk that I was trying to fit into the cooler that was already full. I ended up having to jam it on top and then surrounding it with cold packs in hopes that this might be cold enough in just the cooler environment. Or the moment when I pulled my now soaking wet clothing out of the cooler, wrung it out over the cooler and then put it into the duffel bag which I had to bag and put into my personal suitcase. I wonder if they count soaking wet clothing as a “liquid” in Japan. I hope not!