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Crying Over Spilled (Breast)Milk

By Amalah

Hi, Amy,

Looking for a little advice. I’ve been wracking my brain and can’t think of a good analogy, and I just know you’ll have something witty and spot on. Every day we send four bottles to day care with my nearly six month old (just a couple of weeks older than Baby Ike). The fourth is a spare – a “just in case”. It’s the only fully breast milk bottle (two are mixed milk and formula, one is straight formula, b/c I can’t keep up with him pumping).

Anyway, around 8:30 tonight I realized today’s bottle four had never made it back into the fridge. It wasn’t even remotely cool anymore. It was yesterday’s milk, and after being cooled for 24+ hours, then sitting out for 3+, I figured it had to be dumped. Tears welled up into my eyes as I poured out a half day’s worth of pumping. My husband did not get it at all. He doesn’t see the big deal. Any suggestions on how to open his eyes to what it means to pour that much effort down the drain?

Crying Over Spilled Milk

Hey everybody, let’s eeeease our way back into things after the long holiday weekend with a little brainteasing writing exercise: What’s a good metaphor for wasted breastmilk? I came up with two.

First, in the immortal words of Ellen Feiss:

For me, pumping has irritatingly been more about boosting/maintaining supply rather than the actual liquid output, which is historically paltry — but there was a glorious period after Ezra’s birth where my boobs inexplicably responded to the pump as well as the baby and I was able to actually keep significant amounts of pumped milk on hand. Bags of it! It was glorious.

And then our power went out while we were out of town and everything in the freezer went bad, including my precious breastmilk. I couldn’t tell for sure when it defrosted, but judging from the rank meat, melted ice and warm temperature in the freezer it was mostly no longer okay to use.  My reaction was not nearly as chill as Ellen’s “bummer” up there, it was more of a rage-y adult temper tantrum. All that work! Literally going down the drain because of a technology failure.

So: Wasting pumped breastmilk is like working really, really hard on a paper or proposal or *something* on your computer, only to get the Blue Screen of Death during your final sentence, then discovering that the auto-save feature didn’t work and you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN.


Despite my less-than-stellar production via pump with Noah, I damn well tried to send breastmilk in with him to daycare whenever possible, even if it was just a small two-ounce bottle they could give him before the Main Event of Formula. (Our daycare wouldn’t let you mix the two, because they insisted on heating formula and breastmilk in separate Crock Pots lest OMG BOOB COOTIES, or something.) Anyway, one week I stockpiled a couple days’ worth of pumped milk and managed to fill a bag with almost six full ounces! Six! That was huuuuuge for me and my crap supply, so I was quite pleased. I even carried the bag out to the living room to show my husband (who was like, “That’s cool.”). I then went back in the kitchen to prepare the daycare bag. I opened the storage bag and set it down on the counter by the sink while I turned to get a bottle and…

I knocked it over with my elbow. All six ounces, gone in a flash while I stood there slackjawed.

So: Spilling breastmilk is like putting something important in your back pocket — cash, your phone, your keys, sold-out concert tickets — and reminding yourself that your back pocket it probably not the best place for it but you know, it’s just for a few minutes while you find your purse or whatever. And then you forget about it and lo and behold, by the time you remember it your back pocket is horribly, depressingly empty and the contents likely lost forever.

Too dramatic? Not dramatic enough? Hit me, intrepid commenters! And even if you don’t have a metaphor to contribute but want to talk about The Time You Spilled Your Breastmilk that’s fine too. I will hold your hair while you cry about it.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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