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Tomorrow marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week, so I thought I would share a funny story with you. At the time it wasn’t funny, of course, but time heals all wounds, doesn’t it?
I’ve shared with you how my daughter was born 8 weeks early and spent 54 days in the NICU. Well, if there’s one thing you can do a lot of while your child’s in the NICU, it’s pump milk. I pumped every few hours, day and night, without fail. And I collected quite a bit over those long days.
As soon as Miss O could nurse, which we started trying around 2 weeks old, she nursed whenever I was with her. When I wasn’t there she had a feeding tube. But around 6 weeks the nurses started trying to get her to take a bottle. You see, in order to be released from the hospital she would need to be eating all her meals by mouth and still gaining weight for 48 hours.
Well, my girl did not like the bottle. At. All. She hated it so much that she would stop breathing in order to avoid drinking it.
But through all of this I continued to pump and freeze my milk.
Miss O was 7 months old when she started day care, and by then I’d pumped 600 fluid ounces of breast milk. Yes, you read that right. 600 fluid ounces!
I should add, 600 fl oz that Miss O wouldn’t drink. Any time she had to drink frozen milk (thawed, of course), she’d scream and cry and throw a fit. We went to a wedding and she didn’t eat anything for the many hours we were gone. I’d drop her off at school and she wouldn’t eat all day.
What I finally figured out was that she didn’t like the milk that had been frozen because I had excess lipase in my milk. I won’t go into the detailed explanation of what that means, but if you want to know more about it Kelly Mom is a fantastic resource. Essentially, excess lipase breaks down the fat in your milk faster than normal, especially when chilled or frozen, causing the milk to smell and taste something like soap.
Some babies don’t care. Mine cared. A lot.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do to stop excess lipase from ruining your milk, but it has to be done before freezing. That meant that the 600 fl oz I had already frozen were no good to Miss O. Ugh.
I looked into donation, but my milk was too old to be acceptable.
There was only 1 option. I had to let it go.
I laid out all the milk on the lawn to defrost – Ferris guarded it for me – and dumped it out once it was thawed.
Here’s the part that had me smacking my head, the part that could only happen to me. Ferris, the dog that had shown no interest in the numerous bottles lying around the house, decided to eat the breast milk covered rocks.
Yep. The rocks. He ate rocks. Breast milk covered rocks.
A few hundred dollars in x-rays later we were told he’d be fine and the rocks would pass on their own.
I’ll admit, it was hard to let go of that milk. So many hours. Lost sleep. Missed fun. All so I could sneak off and pump.
But, here’s the thing. The hours I spent, especially when Miss O was in the hospital, were hours that made me feel connected to her. It was something I could do to help my baby girl even though I couldn’t be her full-time mom quite yet. So even though the milk I pumped wasn’t going to be her food, it served a purpose.
If you need assistance with nursing, I highly recommend contacting your local La Leche League for help and/or advice. They are a great, supportive resource.