(Part 1 of a 4 day series)
It’s early. Most people are still asleep and it’s dark outside. But inside Jennifer is already hard at work. The quiet humming and mechanical wheezing stand out against the pre-dawn silence. It’s time to make the milk.
This is what keeps Trixie alive, healthy, and gives her a strong immune system. Welcome to the milk cycle. It begins every morning before work when Jennifer collects about 8 oz. to add to the stock in the refrigerator. She’ll make another collection at the office and once again at home at night.
Why does Jennifer need to pump so much? Trixie requires between 2 and 2.5 oz. of milk per pound of body weight per day. She weighs about 12lbs now so this translates to 24-30 oz. a day. Fortunately, Jennifer doesn’t have to collect this entire amount because she still nurses her after work and during the night.
At home Jennifer uses her Medala Pump-in-style [above]. Without the attached accessories, it’s simply an unassuming black bag. However, the first time I saw the assortment of tubing, valves and conical shields that plug into it, I was perplexed. Witnessing the actual milk collection was equally bizarre.
The hospital-grade pump at work, of which I have only seen photos, is fantastically industrial [below]. If I were handed the machine without explanation, I would go try to find space for it in the control room at Hoover Dam. The tubing and accessory set-up is comparable to the home model, but the piston-driven pump cuts the pumping time by approximately 33% — a boon during busy work hours.
It’s ironic that the process of ensuring Trixie uninterrupted natural sustenance is so mechanical.
Once the milk is collected, the precious cargo is packed up for transport back home. We treat it pretty much like we would a kidney or liver tagged for organ transplant (well, actually, I never treat livers quite as well as the milk.) While this may seem excessive, it doesn’t take long for unpasteurized milk to sour. Given the time and energy that goes into the production and collection, you hate to lose even one bottle.
The end result? A steady supply of fresh milk replenished each and every day providing the raw material for the rest of our story. Come back tomorrow to learn how feeding Trixie is only slightly less challenging than running a distribution warehouse in Part 2 of our series: Bottle Management 101.