When the May Queen was 6 weeks old I began rehearsals as Agnes in Dancing at Lughnasa. During the day I would learn my lines while nursing The May Queen. We joked that when she began talking it would be with an Irish Brogue. In the evenings I would leave her, mostly with my husband or with adult friends from our church, and the occasional very responsible teenager.
Rehearsals typically lasted 3 hours, and we would take a break about half way through. I knew that our break was later than usual if my milk started to leak. During our break I would hide out in the (thankfully very clean) bathroom and pump. The director, a single woman in her 50s, was fortunately very understanding, and told me to take as long as I needed. She also encouraged me to bring The May Queen to rehearsals on the nights we couldn't find someone to watch her, and so the director would pace back and forth in the rehearsal hall with a baby on her arm while we rehearsed. The other actors took turns when they were off stage. The gal playing Rosie liked to entertain her with the gloves we were knitting (I had to learn how to knit for this show. Gloves, no less. Even though the director gifted me with the needles I used in the show and I thought I might knit something else, I never have). On our break I would sit in the lobby and nurse. During the run of the show I pumped in our dressing room at intermission.
The unmarried man and teenage boy probably learned a little bit more about nursing and pumping than they bargained for during this show. I don't think I realized at the time how lucky I was to have such an understanding and accomodating cast and crew. I've later heard such horror stories about people nursing and pumping at work and in public. For me, their "whatever" attitude made it possible for me to do something I loved.
Getting back on the stage after giving birth was a crucial step for me in regaining my identity apart from The May Queen's Mommy. It also helped me find a home in a new city... I was pregnant when we moved and hadn't done any theatre. Getting back on stage and in with the theatre crowd gave me a chance to round out my exclusive new role as mommy, and also helped me step outside of the rather stressful world of the church my husband worked at there. The role of Agnes, even though it wasn't the part I originally wanted, was a real treat to work on. A friend I met and worked with later told me that although Maggie was the flashy one (the part I wanted, naturally) Agnes had always been her favorite, and that whenever she looked at me she could tell there was so much going on. Which was the fun of Agnes, actually. She certainly wasn't flashy. But oh, the depths. I also had to learn Irish step dancing, which probably helped me get back into my pre-pregnancy pants.
I'm hoping to start a mini-series this summer: Theatre Thursdays. I thought about doing it back when I posted a picture from Angels in America. I enjoy the reminiscing, and ya'll seem to enjoy the stories. I know I have several other theatre folk out there reading- if you'd like to play along sometime, let me know, and I'll link you up.