|1. The one time he drank a bottle of formula and got my hopes up about the prospect of a backup plan 2. Not happy campers|
We were going to be apart from Ryan for twelve days. I was estimating that I needed twenty ounces a day so I needed at least 240 ounces of breast milk by the time I left to take Ryan to San Diego to stay with Chris' parents (you're welcome for that tough math calculation). I had about forty ounces or so already back in San Diego from when we were out there visiting. Too bad I had only allowed myself a month to create the remaining of such a must-have stash.
The month of August was basically me, myself, and my pump. I do not know how mothers who exclusively pump do it! I would wake up early to pump, pump after every time Ryan ate, which was often, pump right after Ryan went to bed and again before I went to bed. I drank water like a fish, ate enough lactation cookies to feed a month of La Leche League meetings, and sipped Mother's Milk Tea like I was from across the pond. Somehow, my pile of Lansinoh freezer bags finally reached 200+ ounces.
Now the question was ... how do I get it to San Diego?
After my initial research, I planned on shipping it with dry ice which seems to have worked for several people according to the internets. Then I realized that that would cost quite a bundle and that I already had a plane ticket for myself and my own bundle of joy. Can a mom check a bag of frozen milk? I looked more into that option and found out that yes, we can do it! That became my plan for about the time of one pumping session during which I spent imagining my beyond precious luggage getting lost. Can a mom carry on a cooler of frozen breast milk when they are so strict about carry on contents?
Yes. Yes, she can. Here is how I did it:
1. I bought a cooler that was small enough to count as a carry-on and easy to tote around for a day, but large enough to contain the frozen milk. I used a 16 quart cooler with a padded strap except surprise, surprise mine wasn't camouflage. I made sure to have my contact info in the cooler pocket and tied a ribbon on the strap so I could easily identify it in case it was lost.
3. I printed out the Traveling With Formula, Breast Milk and Juice, page from the TSA website. It clearly states that frozen breast milk is not only permitted, but also allowed to be larger in amount than the normal three ounce guideline. I made sure to have the paper within reach when we went through security in case the TSA worker was unfamiliar with the policy.
|Liquid GOLD. My frozen assets.|
4. Declare the breast milk right away once you reach the security belt. The TSA man just opened the cooler to see what was in it, swabbed it down to test it for anything of warning and then also swabbed down our Ergo that Ryan was in and tested that. It was all very quick!
5. Relax and travel!
After almost a four hour bus ride, two hour wait in the airport, four hour plane ride from Chicago to San Diego and then about an hour more until we arrived at the freezer at my in-laws, the breast milk made it to its destination! Since the frozen bags cooled one another very well throughout the day of travel that most of the cooler was still frozen. Only the top few bags had started to turn a little bit slushy. Success! And I am happy to say that the Ryan drank his last six ounces on the plane ride back with his Oma to be reunited with us!
Leaving Ryan and then pumping throughout the trip will be a story for another day.
So if you are a mom on a business trip or just a trip without your baby and are pained to have to throw away all that breast milk, just fly home with it!