Friday, October 17, 2008


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!


sheree said...

Oh, Katie. I am sorry for your loss.
I say that as someone who had to dump 96 ounces of of the precious fluid.

Hope the microwave issue is resolved soon.

Wendy said...

I found it helpful to grab the yellow part with a paper towel and twist them off. I would also try to not stick them on so tight, but i would almost always still need the paper towel. once, I had to get Rob to get them apart. Pained my independence [scowl].

I'm so glad pumping is working out for you. I was a failure. I never produced much to begin with and lost my supply right at 9 weeks. Then i found out Daniel has a milk allergy and had to switch to a hypoallergenic formula. 32 oz of pumped milk sat uselessly in my freezer because Daniel had rejected my attempts to feed it to him. I hung onto it because the thought of throwing it out pained me...I was only getting 1 1/2 ounces, and that's when things were going well. Finally, Hurricane Gustav knocked out my power for 6 days and I didn't have a choice.

But Daniel's thriving on formula...has from the very beginning. I can't ask for more :)

Jenny said...

Just wait until Penny is a little older and you find her sucking on a bath toy and then you realize that you forgot to squeeze the water out of it the last time it was used so it's full of mildew...Not that that's ever happened at my house.
(mmmm, mildew.)

Be Like the Squirrel, Girl said...

Sheree - I can't imagine dumping that much! Argh! Was it a lipase issue? And, to tell the truth, I'm a little proud of the microwave thing. Although, sometimes it would save a lot of time.

Wendy - thanks for reading! Yes, I do find that paper towels helps provide enough friction to twist off the yellow thingies. Britt did have to help me with that too, haha. It must have been awful to go that long without power too. I'm so glad everything is ok and going well!

Be Like the Squirrel, Girl said...

Oh yeah, and Jenny, sometimes Penny sucks on the washcloth while I'm giving her a bath, and I'm like, "Um, are you supposed to swallow that much bath water?"

Amber/Dia said...

I am sooooo glad that I get to learn so much from you before this baby is born. I am not a clean freak either and I probably would have done the same with the I know.
One of my mom's philosophies of child raising has long been that exposure to gross things that kids stick in thier mouths is good for the immune system. Well one time she found my little brother sucking on what she thought was an empty snail shell out in the yard...she took it a away mostly for safety, and then realized that there was still a snail in it! Ewwwwww...and he grew up just fact we all have very strong immune systems :)

Lo said...

Katie, you cracked both me and my husband up with this one. Love it. IT's so... so.... me.
As for the microwave, get a free on on Craig's list. That's what I did when my last one blew out. Then you won't feel bad about having one.

Your Penny is so very beautiful. I espeically love the one where she's partly wrapped up.

sheree said...

Yup, the lipase. And my mistake, 130 ounces. It took me months to be able to part with it.
I bet that lipase was Wendy's issue. Can you direct her to my lipase problem/explanation (for next time, I guess)? Here's the URL

Oh, I used my teeth when the yellow thing got stuck--tried not to have to resort to that very often.

About the bath--just wait 'til Penny decides to fill her little bath bucket with water and drink it. You'll probably have watched her pee in the water not 5 minutes beforehand.

Wendy said...

Sheree...Ah HA! I'll be tucking that little nugget away for later. Thanks.

Katie's post reminded me of the early mommy months. I offer this link, but I'm rather proud of February as a whole.

sc1976 said...

Those yellow bits were an absolute cow to remove sometimes! Not pumping now but when I was, I did a few lovely things like leave the 4 ounces of breastmilk out overnight (a couple of times) so that it was utterly useless the next morning. I also remember thinking all the floating white bits were bad, like my boob milk had somehow developed mould in the fridge. Now I know better ...