Got Breastmilk?: Reclaiming my Freezer!
12 Gallons of Breastmilk-a-Freezing
Okay, this Madre is sick and tired of wedging her frozen pizzas into the only tiny little centimeter of flat space available in her freezer – I’ve actually considering folding them. Same goes for the frozen bags of chicken and shrimp that get stuffed into a wee smidgeon of space that defies all laws of science. If there are laws for things like that. My biochemistry degree fails me from years of unuse. For about a year now I’ve opened my freezer just to dodge my toes out of the way of whatever avalanche awaits on the other side and to stare at a wall of breastmilk, reminding me of what a huge embarrassing failure and waste of time and boob destruction it was. But mostly it’s just annoying as crap when there are things that need frozen and this “liquid gold” is cramping my style, doing nothing but taking up space and mocking my good intentions.
Breastfeeding and pumping may very well be thee most stressful thing I’ve ever done in my life. As ridiculous as that may sound to those who haven’t done it, it made me cry, worry, flip-out, hurt, stress, and wanna punch things. Some women have great experiences with it – good for them. Not I! Breastfeeding and pumping can go straight to hell in my opinion. Worst thing ever. My life revolved around feedings and should-be feeding times. All. Day. Long. Every. Day. You have no idea how quickly 3 hours passes until there’s a newborn to feed or you’re pumping to maintain supply. Yeah, it’s supposed to be all about bonding and love and closeness…blah, blah, blah. Try hooking up vacuum hoses to your nips for 30 minutes every 3 hours and see how beautiful you think the miracle is then. And the “every 3 hours” timeframe starts from the beginning of the feeding or 30 minute pump, so once you finish and let out a big sigh of relief when the cones of torture release the heartless grip they have on your poor, limp, bloody, formerly glorious bouncers – BOOM! – you’re back for more a short 2.5 hours later like some sort of mammary masochist. Just the sound of the pump haunts my dreams to this day.
That all being said, I cried like a bitch curled up in my hubby’s lap when I realized the last time I nursed my baby would be the last time I nursed my baby, and I’ll likely go through it all again for the next baby if and when that day comes. No clue why…maybe because it’ll be less craptastic the 2nd time around…or maybe it’s because I have a top-of-the line pump that I need to get my money’s worth out of. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have the same liberated feeling I had after nursing and pumping was over with when I stop next time, too. It’s fantastic to just need water and some powder when you’re out and about rather than a boob and a cover, or to be able to tell someone else to dive on the hungry baby grenade and toss ‘em a bottle while you do whatever the hell you want besides be stuck in the recliner for God knows how long. FREEDOM!!
Anyway, on top of being a slave to the breastfeeding/pumping schedule and my constantly engorged, leaky breasts, my son couldn’t take the milk without screaming and pooping liquid. Not even after I cut dairy, soy, wheat, and eggs out of my diet. On a positive note, I lost all my baby weight – plus some – on this strict diet of meat, fruits, veggies, peanut butter, and chips and salsa. It’s amazing how much willpower a girl can have when her baby’s poop depends on it. Especially this girl. I can’t even crash diet for a week to prep for a vacay. Because…Christmas Cookies. And fries. But the thought of causing my son pain because of what I eat – now that’s motivation. The Baby Poop Diet – pretty sure that’s a million dollar idea. 😉 So anyway, many attempts later and loooong story short, I ended up pumping exclusively in hopes that eventually my boy could process it and it just never worked out. I froze everything I pumped for about 5 weeks, and my supply was always pretty good. Now I have 12 gallons of breastmilk – about 225 bags – taking up space in my damn freezer.
After a while I finally got up the gumption to call about donating it to sweet babies who need it, as I had always planned. Turns out the donation process is long and complex and, at the time, with a baby of my own who frazzles my brain to mush, a job that contributes to the mushing, and [insert any and every other excuse here], it wasn’t high on my list. After my initial phone call to the milk bank I was discouraged, thus continuing to the next step in the process fell even further down on my everlasting list of to-dos. Apparently fenugreek has been shown to cause upset stomach in newborns, per the milk bank lady, and my having drank some Mother’s Milk tea and taken fenugreek capsules in an effort to boost and upkeep my milk supply, I would have to determine and estimate how much I drank/took and when in relation to the dates on my pumped milk bags…and there was a good chance they wouldn’t accept my boob juice. From there, I would have to bring the milk in for testing and undergo blood tests myself, etc, etc, and I honestly just didn’t have the time. Or I didn’t make the time. Whatever – you know how that goes.
So here I am, a month and a half past a year from the oldest/first date of my saved, frozen breastmilk. The recommended use date of frozen milk is 12-months, according to the Lanolin bag box. I’m not an expert on it, but I’m sure the Google would have something to say about this, whether you believe it is trash on or before 12-months, or if you believe it’s fine past 12-months.
Here’s my Breastmilk Catalogue – see below. The only discrepancy is my final attempt at giving my son breastmilk – I took one or two bags from near the end of the saved milk since by then I had cut out most everything from my own diet, and I didn’t write it down or update my spreadsheet. So I may be about 5-10 ounces off. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s not so much. If I drank recently or more than a glass of wine, I pumped and dumped. It was all frozen either immediately after pumping or within the timeframe it’s supposed to be frozen in – I’ve slept since then so I’m thinking it was something like 5-8 days in the fridge. The earlier stuff was in the fridge first then moved to the freezer because I was still feeding it to my son at that time. I’m looking to sell this breastmilk if I can. I’ll sell the stuff that’s past 1 year old for $1/ounce and the rest for $3/ounce. I’ll likely move forward with the donation process for what they’ll accept, but if it sells before I get through the red tape that’s fine, too. And if nothing works out, it’s going in the trash. I want my freezer back!
Thanks for reading! If you know anyone who may want to buy the breastmilk, please forward this on. If it’s a parent who wants to give it to his/her baby, great. If it’s a dude who wants to drink it to make him big and strong, that’s cool, too. I made and saved it all to give to a baby dude to make him big and strong – so either way it would be fulfilling its breastmilk destiny.