It’s had been a busy start of the year, with all the transitions going on in my professional life, so this is officially my first article for 2016.
For the first time, I traveled for a week without my baby. With the other three kids, I have never experienced doing so before they reached one year old. I always brought them along with me to avoid the stress of pumping and storing milk. It was never an issue . . . until a trip to the US came up early this year.
When I found out that I will be traveling soon, I was a bit panicked. My primary concern was how much milk I needed to leave for my baby to survive the seven days I will be away. The other concern was how to store milk during my trip and bring it with me back home. The last concern was putting him back on the breast after 1 week of bottle-feeding.
Just the thought of it made me really anxious, but I knew it can be done. So first, the pumping milk concern. What I did, I computed how many times my baby will be feeding per day and multiply it with several days, then I came up with many milk bags should I pump to leave him with adequate supply of breast milk while I was away. So if he feeds every 3-4 hours, in a day he should be feeding at least 7 times including dawn feedings, if ever he would wake up without me by his side. So 7×7, a total of 49 bags.
So aside from pumping for the next day’s supply, I saw to it that I had an extra 3 oz. each day for the upcoming 50 bags stash project.
Two days before my travel date, I was able to save 50 bags of milk for my baby, and it brought me much fulfillment, knowing that my baby will be okay while I will be on travel. I labelled them from 1 to 50 so my yaya will know which one to thaw first and use.
These are the essential things that I prepared for my project:
- Manual pump
- Milk bags
- Fridge To Go (FTG) bag
During my time in Las Vegas, even with the time difference, I was committed to pump every 3 hours. Whenever they were breaks in the conference, I went to my room to pump. I took off the bottles of drinks in my small fridge to put my milk bags in. Good thing I wasn’t charged beacuse it was too late when I found out that the dessert bar was sensorized.
Even when I was out shopping, I made sure I brought my pump with me. One time I went to the premium outlet with my other insulated bag, and my bag was dripping because the tube ice I placed along with my pumped milk melted already. It was embarrassing but who cares. What I did, I just placed my bag on the side near the entrance so I won’t make the whole store wet.
All in all, I was able to save 12 milk bags at 6 oz. each, making sure not to make the bags too full as the liquid will expand when frozen. So the next challenge was to bring these babies home. So the night before my flight, I asked the staff in the hotel to freeze my milk. I made sure I place the bags in a big Ziplock bag and another cloth bag for protection. I also included the cooling panels of my FTG bag to be frozen. Properly labelled with my name and room number, I entrusted my liquid gold and paraphernalia to the staff. I got the bags a few minutes before I left the hotel and made sure all the milk bags are inside my FTG and checked in my luggage.
I was a bit apprehensive to put my milk bags in my checked-in luggage since I my trip will last for 13 hours plus all the layover. However based on the leaflet of FTG, it said that it has a cooling effect of up to 10-12 hours. So when I arrived in Korea, where I had my layover, I thought of claiming my checked-through bag. It wasn’t possible though, so I just prayed that my milk will survive the next 7 hours while I’m on my way to Manila.
Immediately after I got my luggage upon arrival in Manila, I opened my FTG bag, and lo and behold, my babies are still intact–not really frozen but still very cold. In fact, it was a smoothie form. This made me sooo happy to see this. I right away added more ice I requested from the steward in the airplane.
Since I will be flying back to Davao in three hours’ time, I put my FTG bag inside my luggage and proceeded to my domestic terminal. It was so humid and hot in Manila, about 30 degrees outside, but since I was able to secure my milk, I was confident that my milk will arrive in Davao safely.
When I arrived in Davao, I was so excited to go home, see my family, and put my milk back in the fridge. However, it took me another three hours to get home due to the rally in one part of the city, which caused a terrible traffic the whole day. When I was finally home, I was super tired, but the first thing I did was to secure my milk and put them back in the fridge where they belong. Finally, after close to 39 hours outside the fridge (the real one), they are safe.
All in all, I thought I did well on that project! I was able to feed my baby with my stash. I even had 10 bags left in the fridge. Also, I was able to bring back my milk home safely. In the next few days, my goal was to make my baby as we well as my other kids (and husband) to drink the milk from the US. They just mixed Milo to make it “easier” to drink. Based on my research, thawed milk should be consumed in 24 hours. I didn’t exactly follow that because the milk was just too much for my baby to consume.
With my third concern if he will latch on to me after 1 week of not doing so, what I did was just let him do it the moment I was settled in. All my concerns just melted away. Eventhough I felt my milk supply dwindle due to the one week separation and though my nipples were sore due to his prolonged latch during feedings (we truly missed each other), with his teeth and all, it didn’t make me feel discouraged.
I was so grateful with that experience. Once again it taught me the value of love and commitment. Some meaningful people advised me to go mixed feeding when I told them I will be leaving my baby for a week, but my sheer determination to exclusively breast-feed my baby made me do what I thought was quite a big task. Now more than ever, I’m more confident to travel even without baby. It takes a lot of preparation. It could be inconvenient at times, but it can be done.
Next country please . . .