(Part 4 of a 4 day series)
The inevitable result of collecting milk 3 times a day into 6 or more storage bottles (depending on overflow) plus transferring milk from the storage bottles to 6 feeding bottles is a lot of dirty milk stuff. Our current arsenal consists of 12 VentAire feeding bottles, about 32 miscellaneous storage bottles, 2 sets of pumping equipment for home and 2 for the industrial behemoth at the office.
We didn’t always have this much equipment. In the beginning there was just a single VentAire as we introduced Trixie to the bottle. But washing out that bottle 3-4 times a day got old fast and so we added another half-dozen to the rotation. We also bought an extra set of pump parts so that Jennifer didn’t have to wash them every time she pumped.
Why was washing such an ordeal? Because everything had to be scrubbed — not just dunked in some soapy water — and in some cases sterilized. The pump parts required daily sterilization consisting of boiling for 20 minutes. The bottle nipples and rubber vents are supposed to be sterilized at least once a week. Having extra parts meant we didn’t have to go through this 5 times a day.
Our new acquisitions put us in pretty good shape while Jennifer eased back into work. However, once her hours and the number of feedings increased, I kept running out of bottles. So we added more. And then Jennifer was issued a set of accessories for the pump at work. And I started running out of bottles again. And so forth. It was around this time that we realized we had so much equipment that it made sense to start running the dishwasher.
At first, I threw the bottles straight into the dishwasher with only a cursory rinse. We quickly discovered that they weren’t coming out clean, especially after they had sat on the counter for a day or so. While the dishwasher had sterilized everything, it didn’t do much good since there was still milk grease on the inside of the bottles. We had to backtrack a little and reintroduce some scrubbing, but finally arrived at the current cleaning protocol:
1) Soak everything in hot water.
2) Hit the bottles and pump parts with a quick brush.
3) Load everything into the dishwasher for sterilization.
4) Unload to the racks to finish drying.
5) Repeat in 48 hours
With all the bottles, caps, nipples, vents, bottle brushes, test tube style drying racks, tubing, connectors, diaphragms, and funnels, our kitchen looks like an industrial laboratory.
So finally, after the collection, the transportation, the inventory management, the feedings, and the sterilization we reach the end of the day. It’s late and the house is quiet once again. Like a factory, we shut down for the night and go to sleep (if Trixie will let us), but know that at 6:00 the next morning, the whistle is going to blow and milk cycle is going start all over again.