The bottom drawer of our freezer (we have an “upside-down” fridge) belongs to Talia. It’s full of plastic tubs containing ice-cube-sized portions of stewed fruit, mashed veg, pulverised chicken, flakes of fish in cheese sauce etc. Wedged in the middle of this oyster of solids was a little pearl – the last remaining bottle of my frozen expressed breast milk (EBM).
I’ve rambled at length about the ups and downs of milk production. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I wanted to do more, but now I’m happy that I did as much as I could. If I had to do it all over again, I would. So what’s the story with this bottle of EBM? Talia stopped breastfeeding exclusively last October, and ceased completely at the end of January. It’s now the end of March. This bottle of liquid gold was dated 21/6/07 – the day before Talia came home from hospital. This bottle of milk has reigned, happy and glorious, over the bottom drawer of the freezer for NINE months, as one by one all the other bottles (older) and baggies (younger) of EBM were defrosted and used up. (Don’t worry, my freezer is cold enough that it was safe to keep it longer than the usually recommended three months). This bottle was a testament to my hours of expressing but also a life-line which I had clung to for months in case of emergency, but which was no longer needed now that Talia is healthy and happy with formula and solids.
So last Thursday, a week after Talia’s first birthday, I liberated this vintage bottle from its cryogenic home and defrosted it. On Saturday, Talia’s bottles were half formula and half EBM, the final instalment of my first gift to her. It doesn’t usually happen, but she completely finished every bottle. That night we both went to sleep satisfied.