I hope that enough time has passed for this to be funny instead of embarrassing. I have a gross confession to make: I had mildew in my breast pump. I know, I know, GROSS. Let me explain.
It may shock and alarm some of you to learn that I'm not a very tidy person. It's true. But, I DO wash the pump after each use, I swear! I just didn't know that the little yellow bits that attach to the "horns" (those of you with Medela experience will know what I'm talking about) can (and should) come off. I didn't know! I had tried to pull them off many times before giving up and assuming they were permanently affixed. Oops. And I was getting a bit lazy about taking the little membranes off. I was just rinsing the whole thing without taking it apart and drying it on the drying rack. So imagine my horror when I actually took the time to look behind the membrane into the yellow part. I think I even shouted OH GOOD GOD or something to that effect with some additional expletives.
So then I panicked. I thought about the milk I had in the freezer that might have come into contact with the grossness. I threw a couple of those bags away because the idea of Penny drinking it was too disgusting. I sent a desperate email to my friend Sheree at midnight. And then I didn't wait for her reply before bleaching the crap out of all of the parts and mucking out the yellow bits with a Q-tip. And then I realized that bleach is probably not good either (which Sheree pointed out to me in her reply to my desperate email), so I threw out the milk I had pumped post-bleaching.
I had the joy of confessing all of this to my doctor at Penny's four month check-up. She had to ponder the situation for a long time, as if she'd never heard of such a disgusting predicament, which made me feel like even more of a slob. She said she thought the mildew-laced milk was probably fine, unlike the bleach-laced milk, and that the parts of the pump should probably be cleaned with alcohol in the future. She was very sympathetic about the prospect of throwing milk out, since she knows, as a nursing/pumping mother herself, that breast milk is LIQUID GOLD.
Friends, don't let this happen to you. Take your pump apart every time (and yes, those little yellow things DO come off, you have to twist and pull) and wash everything. If you do encounter some yuckiness, use alcohol (not bleach) to clean it and then boil the parts to sterilize them.
Penny: Hey mom, can you be more careful with my milk?
For those of you with a microwave, you can use those steamer bags to sterilize as well, assuming that microwaving plastic is ok?? That's embarrassing confession number two: We do not currently own a microwave. But we're not total Luddites, see? I'm using a computer right now to confess all of my disgusting habits!