YO MAMA: Pinot gris and sour milk | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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YO MAMA: Pinot gris and sour milk

Image Credit: PEXELS

The milk was pumped, the pureed baby food was meticulously arranged in little Tupperware containers, and the post-it note detailing nap times and wake windows was stuck prominently on the fridge. It was time to go out with the girls.

“I won’t be more than a couple hours,” I said, leaning in to kiss the kid and the husband.

“We’ll be fine,” my husband said. “Oh, by the way, when does he need to nap again?”


“We’ll be fine,” he said again. “Go.”

Off I went, feeling thrilled at the chance to let my hair down, literally — my son's favourite hobby of late was plucking out my head hairs. I had also selected a beloved polkadot jumpsuit that is impossible to breastfeed in. I hadn’t worn it in more than a year. I felt glamorous and free, no nursing tanks, no baby to check on in the rearview mirror, no snacks or burp cloths or toys to pack. Just me and the girls, a delicious lunch, and a glass of wine.

We rendezvoused at my best friend’s house and the three of us moms cruised off kid-free to a local winery. Windows down, music playing, the hot topic we chose to discuss was, naturally, our kids’ poop.

“Mine always wakes up with a big poo. Makes for a great early morning routine,” my friend said.

“Ugh. Our daughter had a huge diaper blowout while playing on her rocking horse. Let’s just say it got everywhere….” said my other friend.

“Mine hasn’t pooped in a week,” I said gloomily. “It’s seriously stressing me out. I’m losing sleep over it.”

After a good deal more poop talk, and the standard “I wonder how the dads will do without us” banter, we arrived at the lakeside winery. I checked my phone; still no word from the husband. That was a good thing, I thought. It meant everything was going well at home. Still, part of me — a deep, dark, wicked part of me — was secretly hoping he would struggle, just a tiny bit. But no, I told myself, it was better that everything went perfectly.

The September sun melted over the patio as we ordered our lunch and pinot gris. I sat back comfortably and relished in the ability to fully partake in a conversation with adults. It’s amazing how distracting caring for an infant can be.

As I bit into my smoked gouda BLT on a brioche bun, my phone rang. Instantly, I dropped the sandwich, picked up the phone without even looking at the caller, and said, “what’s wrong?”

“So, ummm, uhhh, how sure are you that your milk is still good?” the husband said.

“Pretty sure,” I said, thinking back to the excessive Googling and cross-referencing I had done about how long breastmilk can be stored in the fridge and freezer. I had painstakingly pumped and stockpiled quite a few bags of milk over the last couple months. So far, I had only used it for an exciting trip to the dentist so there was lots left.

“What makes you think it’s off?” I asked, somewhat offended that he thought something was wrong with my milk.

“I don’t know why but… I was paranoid that it had gone bad so I tasted a bit and it tasted kind of soapy and sour,” he said.

What did he expect it to taste, I wondered, creme fraiche?

The table had fallen silent, everyone leaning in to listen to this bizarre conversation. 

“Well, it’s not going to taste like cow’s milk,” I said. “But just to be sure, why don’t you open another bag instead.”

I hung up and we chuckled over the irony of my husband taste-testing breastmilk while we sat sipping wine. I returned to my BLT — melted cheesy goodness dripping down my fingers — when ping! in came a text message from the husband.

“Getting formula.”

This was a drastic turn. I updated the girls before calling my husband for more info.

“Did you try the other bags of milk?” I asked.

“Yeah. They were all off I think,” he said.

“ALL OF THEM?” I said.

I pictured dozens of bags of milk ripped open and dripping on the kitchen counter. All of that “liquid gold” rendered worthless, my poor, helpless husband standing there with his useless nipples (Required reading for all new breastfeeding moms).

“Well, if you’re sure,” I said. “I’d hate to risk it if you think it’s gone bad. You know, I can leave right now and be home in 45 minutes.”

“It’s OK. I’ve already asked my mom to pick up the formula,” he said.

I knew it was the kid’s feeding time and he was probably hungry, which only added to my guilt as I sat staring at a bowl of artisanal potato chips drizzled with truffle oil. He’d be more content if he ate sooner than later. I took a deep breath. This was fine. Formula was fine. He’d had a bit before when he was really little.

I gave my blessing and attempted to focus on the chocolate mousse that had just arrived. But I couldn’t stop thinking about my baby. I wanted to hold him and nurse him and listen to him belch contentedly after filling his belly. And as I thought about him, I noticed sweat dripping down my chest. Only it wasn’t sweat, it was breastmilk. I’d heard rumour of this happening when you thought of your baby — or for some women, when they simply heard a baby cry — but it hadn’t happened to me yet. Of course I would be leaking milk while my husband mixed formula at home for our son.

The phone rang again. What now?

“He won’t take the bottle,” the husband said.

“Seriously? But he took it just a couple weeks ago when I was at the dentist,” I said.

I guess the kid preferred my sour milk over store-bought formula. I could hear him making adorable little growling noises on the other end of the phone. I pictured him in the little moose patterned onesie he was probably still wearing. I felt awful that my husband was dealing with this unexpected sour-milk mess.

“I’m coming home.”

The girls had already asked for the bill. On the drive home, we talked about how unexpected, and at times all-consuming, parenting is. Even when you think you’ve prepared for everything, sour milk gets tossed in your face. And unlike most jobs, you’re always on call.

I parked the car and all but ran into the house, unbuttoning my jumpsuit on the way. It was completely silent in the house. No hungry wailing.

I found my boys on the couch. The kid was star-fished on my husband taking a nap.

“Oh my god did he pass out from low blood sugar?” I asked.

“No, he gobbled up all the purees!” the husband said proudly.

We’d been introducing solid foods to the kid for a few weeks but he hadn’t had much more than a bite or two at a time. I guess it’s true that kids will eat when they’re hungry.

The kitchen was littered with bags of milk left out for my inspection and second opinion. I took a sniff and it seemed fine. I dipped my pinky into one of the bags and tasted it. The flavour was, as the husband described, soapy. Weird. I Googled “soapy-tasting breast milk.” Turns out it’s pretty common. According to the breastfeeding website Medela, if milk contains a high level of lipase (an enzyme naturally found in human milk) it can have a soapy smell and taste but is perfectly fine for the baby.

Interesting, but at this point, useless information. Oh well. Things hadn’t exactly gone according to plan (they rarely do with parenting) but it had all worked out in the end. The kid was fine, he was fed, and his (very thorough and safety oriented) father had survived a stressful few hours.

Now, what was I going to do with all those half-opened, soapy-lipase bags of milk? It made me cringe to just throw them out. I recalled a fellow mom telling me that you could pour it into bath water for added moisturizing benefits. It seemed like a fitting end to my first big day out.

— Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a rambunctious little boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.


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