The Pumping Room


The mothers whose babies were born too soon,
Like clockwork go to the pumping room.
The pumps, they wheeze and sigh,
Keeping the beat to three-fourths time.

And to this rhythm the mommas chat.
We talk about our babies and where they’re at,
What happened, and why . . . if we know.
And we keep making milk so our babies can grow.

On some days it’s all we can do
To make milk in the pumping room.
Our babies are so frail and small,
And they aren’t ready for the world at all.

Yesterday was good, today it’s bad.
May God bless us all for the trouble we’ve had.
And so we go to the pumping room,
To do what we can and cast off the gloom.

We talk of home and hopes and dreams,
Of what the doctors said and what it means.
And on and on the mommas chat.
We remember what’s been said: it’s three steps forward and two steps back.

We count the days, the number unknown,
When we will finally bring our babies home.
While we sit in the room, tapping our feet
As we wait for our families to be complete.

(c) Michelle Okabayashi, all rights reserved.

It took me over a year to few words behind some of my experiences around my son’s birth and his first weeks.  The women I met in the pumping room in the NYU NICU are really special moms.  Most of them have far more harrowing tales than I and they helped me find some fellowship in the very strange and isolating world of NICU.  


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