(Part 3 of a 4 day series)
If you were to take a peek in the fridge, you might think we had a tiny little cow out back judging by all the miniature bottles of milk carefully lined up inside. But, of course, we keep no livestock at the apartment, and all those cute little bottles are actually the result of Jennifer’s dedicated, hard work. Still, at a glance it looks like our little operation could qualify for small agribusiness subsidies. Well, maybe if we lived in Wisconsin.
The milk inventory is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes Trixie drinks more (or less) than we expect. Sometimes pumping is less frequent on the weekends. Sometimes I drink one by mistake when I’m trying to grab a beer. On average we try to keep 12 bottles in the milk line — enough to feed her for 2 days. The stock rotation is very straightforward; new bottles go the back of the line.
We use a two-tiered system for milk processing. No-frills bottles are used for collection and storage, and fancier “VentAire” bottles designed to reduce spitting up and discomfort are used for feeding. When it’s milk time, we warm a bottle up to room temperature, transfer it to the VentAire, and Bottle Log it. [Click here to see a demo version of the Bottle Log that you can play with!]
Once logged, the bottle is good for 2 hours. We arrived at this length of time through trial and error. Initially, we thought we were playing it safe by retiring bottles at 3 hours. One day, however, Jennifer taste tested some 2+ hour old milk that Trixie wouldn’t touch. I can’t really describe the face she made, but I can see why Trixie wasn’t biting. As poor Jennifer discovered, the milk had spoiled and spoiled bad.
In retrospect, I guess it shouldn’t really have come as much of a surprise. Jennifer milk is whole-fat, vitamin-rich, and unpasteurized. It’s not designed to exist at room temperature at all, and once it’s out of the fridge and warmed up, the bacteria get to work. So now we draw the line at 2 hours. Keeping track of the time is extremely important because if you forget, you either have to throw the bottle out early or resort to a taste test. Both choices are unpalatable, the latter more so. We use The Bottle Log to track the expiration time in addition to the amount of milk Trixie is drinking.
Currently Trixie is drinking between 5-6 bottles a day. There’s a 6am (prepared by Jennifer for me to deliver and then fall back asleep), 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm (optional because Trixie has probably been breast-feeding) and a 10pm (that puts her asleep for a good 5 hours.) From these 5-6 bottles she’s getting an average of 18-19 oz. a day. This is about 70% of the 26 oz. we estimate she needs daily. The rest comes from breastfeeding.
Finally, Trixie has had all she can drink. She’s sleepy, fat and content. End of story, right? Not quite. Come back tomorrow to find out about clean-up in the final part of our series: After the party’s over.