With a sigh, I take a pause from the email I’m writing and pick up my work phone.
“Thank you for calling, this is Becky speaking. How may I help you?”
“Your breasts are contaminated.”
There’s a beat of silence, as I try to figure out if I just heard what I think I just heard.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“This is your mom. Your breasts are contaminated.”
For a brief moment, I get a creepy mental image of “the girls” combined with radiation leaks and food poisoning. Gross.
“Ummm. Okay?…. Uhh… Mom, can you explain, please?” I’d be more concerned, but the reality is that my mom is the Queen of Hyperbole.
“Well, it’s germ transference 101… you have a cold, so when you use your BREASTpump, the NIPPLE shields are touching your BREASTS and the milk at the same time, so the germs go from your NIPPLES and your BREASTS into the milk.”
Oh. My. Gaaawd. How many times can this woman fit the words “breasts” and/or “nipples” into one sentence? I feel dirty just listening to it.
“Mom, I don’t think it works like that.”
“No, your germs are probably all over it. It’s on the bag, and it’s probably contaminating the bags it’s touching. We should throw it away.”
Nuh-uh. I don’t care if I covered that bag in the Ebola virus – I pumped 10.5 ounces yesterday. We are NOT throwing it away!
“Mom, it’s fine. The baby already has my cold. And besides, the milk has antibodies in it – you specifically want to give him that milk right now.”
“But it’s covered in germs.” Germs, toxins, bacteria, AIDS virus, airborne anthrax – they all creep my mom out on the same level.
“It’s fine, mom. There aren’t any germs, and even if there were, it doesn’t matter. Like I said, he’s already sick.”
“But how long will the germs live? You’re sick, and when you used your BREASTpump, it was touching all of your BREAST and even though the milk is only coming out of your NIPPLES, the entire plastic was touching your BREAST so it’s all contaminated.”
Good Lord… I need a brain toothbrush.
“Mom, it’s fine. He already has my cold, so he can’t get sick again. Besides, even if it did work like that – and it doesn’t – it’s just a cold.”
“But what if the germs contaminate the rest of your freezer stash? I don’t want to have to deal with him having a cold again. What if I pull that bag out a couple of months from now and he gets sick again? I’m not willing to take that chance.”
Crap, she’s starting to get that stubborn tone to her voice. If I don’t think of something soon, she’s gonna chuck a 10.5 baggie of liquid gold down the drain because she’s scared it’s “contaminated”… even though he already has my cold and can never get it again. Crap, crap, crap.
“But I put it in the freezer,” I say, making something up off the top of my head. “The drastic change in temperature works as an antiseptic and kills any germs that might have survived contact with the sterile environment of the bag. They can’t survive the exposure to the icy air – it’s more effective than bleach.” My argument makes no sense whatsoever, but I pepper it with words like “sterile” and “antiseptic” to make it sound official. I specifically use “bleach” because I’m pretty sure bleach is my mom’s Happy Spot. Clean, white, recently bleached things seem to soothe her.
“Well, I guess…” she sounds semi-convinced. “But he’s not eating very well right now.”
“Mom, I told you I nursed him at 7 and he ate really well. He shouldn’t be hungry until 10 or 11.”
“But he ate again at eight,” she says, as if presenting solid proof that my contaminated milk is systematically destroying the Squidgelet.
“He ate at eight? Right after I left?”
“He woke up crying,” she says defensively.
“Okay, but you’re saying that he ate heavily at 7, and then you fed him again at 8? And now you’re feeding him again at 10, and you’re worried that he’s not eating a lot?”
In the back of my mind I see all those hard hours of pumping just draining away….
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. He probably isn’t that hungry. So you think the milk is okay? It’s not contaminated by your BREASTS?”
From the sound of her voice I can tell she’s envisioning radioactive, puss-covered skin crawling with germs. Nice. Now I feel REALLY sexy.
“No, mom. I’m fine. The milk is fine. I’ve got to get back to work now.”