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Let Me Tell You About the Time I Found My Deep Freezer Unplugged and My Frozen Breast Milk Ruined

Well here I am, about to throw my husband under the bus. It's taken three years for me to be able to talk about this.. just kidding.. kind of.

Three years ago, my husband accidentally unplugged our deep freezer and I lost hundreds of ounces of frozen breast milk.

He didn't even realize it at the time, so it wasn't until I went out to grab some milk that I realized it was ruined.

frozenbreastmilk

original photo courtesy creative commons license

You see I had been pumping non stop for the first three months of my daughter's life. Since she was in the NICU I had to start pumping right away. I was planning to put her in daycare so I kept on pumping even once we were home and breastfeeding was established. I was able to build up quite a stash this way. I ended up working part time from home and not needing daycare, so I stored most of the milk I pumped. I figured I had it as insurance if something happened to my supply and used it occasionally to give her a bottle and run errands.

Once my stash got too big for the fridge freezer we bought a nice medium size deep freezer for our garage. And it was great! I was able to stock up on food and hold tons of breastmilk in one place.

Then, my husband developed a wood working habit (I mean hobby) and the garage became slightly unusable. I did not go in there for awhile and would park outside the garage. Since I was not going in there I started to forget to check the light on the freezer. I also cut way back on my pumping since I realized I would not need so much milk. Any milk I pumped usually went to my regular fridge and freezer. I was even considering donating all the extra milk I had if I never needed it.

frozen breast milk

Photo Courtesy Daniel Lobo via Creative Commons License

One day right before a beach vacation I went out to check on the milk and grab some for our trip. I figured there might be drinking involved on our trip and wanted to have some back up milk with me. As soon as I went into the dark garage and peered into the freezer I knew something was wrong. It smelled and the milk was liquid! Who knows how long it had been that way. My husband still doesn't know when or how he unplugged it but he knows he must have been the one.

Devastated is understatement! Anyone who has pumped knows how hard it is to lose pumped milk. But this wasn't even one spilled bottle! It was hundreds of ounces. After calling him in a fury and losing it, then calling my mother in tears, I started to grieve all the lost milk. It sounds crazy to someone who has not pumped, but it was kind of a grieving process to let it go. I was very upset and concerned about how we would get rid of all the milk. It smelled horrible so my husband did not want to put it down the drain (plus it would take forever) and I couldn't bear the thought of just throwing it in the trash. Since we were leaving on vacation the next day we left it in the freezer (with it turned on) and he ended up taking it somewhere to dispose of it once we were home.

This facebook post from August 2012 in a mommy group I was part of sums it up!!

Ladies help me! I had a huge deep freezer stash of milk from over three months of pumping. I stopped pumping last month because I felt good with the amount I have. I use it for occasional nights out or errands and thought it was ins in case my milk ran out or I wanted a vacation or something. Well I went to grab some today and the freezer is off. The milk is all ruined. I am devastated and want to kill my husband bc I am pretty sure he unplugged it and forgot to plug it back in. The freezer is in our garage which he uses as a work shop. He is always moving stuff around and working on things and recently installed new lights, I am sure that is when he unplugged it. When it's clean I can park in there and always checked the freezer light, but for the past month he has been working on a project and I have not been in there at all. Who knows how long the freezer has been off. I am just so upset. I know this is not the end of the world but how do I get over my anger.. ugh

First let me apologize to my husband but he told me I could post this! As you see I was pretty upset and the ladies in my group were a little worried about me.

Why am I sharing this story? Well, mostly to remember and partly in solidarity with anyone else who has lost pumped milk. When it occurred I remember searching the internet looking for a similar story to make myself feel better and I could not find one! I know there must be others out there. What a shame to lose all that milk.

The only good outcome of this loss was it made me realize how amazing pumping all that milk really is, and I could do it again if I set my mind to it. I eventually built up a new much smaller stash (my baby was six months at this time and breastfeeding was going great). No sooner than I built up my new stash then two months later we were threatened by Hurricane Sandy. I was so worried about a power outage and losing my new milk. I did some research on it and will give some tips in an upcoming post about power outages and frozen breast milk.

In the meantime, have you ever lost pumped milk? How did it make you feel?

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Roxy

Friday 22nd of October 2021

I just lost 2100 ozs of breastmilk since the freezer stopped working all of a sudden. I had not opened the freezer for past 10 days. Yesterday i went to take some of them out since my milk supply have dropped and found that all 2100 ozs of milk was gone. I have been crying ever since. I cant sleep, I cant concentrate, i feel betrayed. I had struggled to get enough milk in the beginning so i pumped day and night to increase my supply and save for LO but now its all gone. We had bought a new freezer from bestbuy just in May. The freezer wasn’t even 6 months old and it stopped working. Who would have thought in their wildest dream. I am not sure i will be able to ever forget about it. I feel like i lost someone my own. Cant come to terms why things like this would happen to some of us?!?! Is it Karma. Now i am in a mission to increase the supply since i want to be able to feed my LO till 1 year. I really hope i can do it. I still can’t believe i lost 2100 ozs of breastmilk.

Jen Brenan

Friday 22nd of October 2021

Hi, I am so so sorry this happened to you. I know the feeling and it is why I wrote this post. I will say it gets much better with time. Allow yourself to grieve and start pumping again. In the end I found I ended up not needing as much milk as I thought and the bad feelings did fade.

Danielle

Saturday 19th of December 2020

I’m so glad I found this article. I just found out last night that my 600+ ounce milk stash was destroyed. Something tripped our garage freezer and we have no idea why. I was in the process of getting my blood work sent in to donate all of it. I thought I was crazy that I feel so heartbroken, but I’m so glad to see I am not alone. It’s so hard to accept that all those hours of pumping are just gone. It took me 6 months to build. Absolutely devastated. I still have a bit of an oversupply, so I should be able to rebuild, but it hurts to see all of that previous work just get thrown away.

Jen Brenan

Saturday 19th of December 2020

Hi, I am so sorry that happened to you. I definitely know the feeling and it is why I wrote the post. I was heartbroken! It will get better with time but it's a horrible feeling at the moment. Good luck to you.

Leanne

Thursday 14th of November 2019

Thank you for this! I found out this morning that I lost the 500+ oz I had stored. My baby is 12 weeks old and I’ve been back to work 2 weeks and have been short about 5oz (one feed for him) per work day- but felt good knowing I would have enough milk to keep us going to get to almost a year. We’re staying with my parents while looking for a house so they bought a freezer second hand for me to store in. I had the stomach bug the last couple days so I was home and breastfeeding while sick (not an easy task) and I went to get milk for daycare this morning to find the entire stash I built up on maternity GONE. There were just 7 bags with crystals left. On top of it I pumped less than a third of my usual at work amount because I’m so dehydrated still from being sick. I’m going to do my best to catch up with my supply and I keep telling myself that fed is best; but it truly is devastating. I think the hard part is having worked so hard on my own to do this. No one in the family can relate because I’m the one who did all the work, and put in all that time and effort. I didn’t want to pump every three hours when he was in the NICU, but I did it. I didn’t want to pump first thing in the morning after he nursed at 4am, but I did it. And now even though we’re finally in a good place and rhythm with breastfeeding it’s like I’m starting from square one.

Thanks for sharing your story and for the other stories here. It’s the worst feeling in the world, but there is some solace in knowing I’m not alone.

Jen Brenan

Saturday 16th of November 2019

Hi Leanne,

Ugh I am so sorry this happened to you. I do know the feeling exactly and it's horrible. You are not alone, this can happen sadly. I can tell you after it happened to me I looked at the freezer every day to make sure it was on. Good luck pumping more. Just keep breastfeeding and doing what you can and with time you won't feel so badly.

Alexa

Thursday 29th of August 2019

You're story helped me SO much. I just lost about 2,300 ounces. I was saving some for my little one and planning on donating the rest. I'm so heartbroken ?

Nia

Friday 23rd of November 2018

I just walked in about an hour ago from a hotel stay with my in laws, we have been living in their house while we build and so I’ve been keeping my milk in their freezer, good thing we decided to come back a day earlier my husband and I because 20 minutes ago I went to put in a bag of pumped milk and found the 150oz I had pumped over the last month completely thawed out thanks to a not fully closed freezer door. I have been crying since and finally pulled myself together to find a similar story to know I’m not alone, and will eventually stop crying over milk... it’s going to be a tough couple of days. My midwife and mother in law suggest I rebuild my supply, But the saddest part is losing that very first milk that I feel so close to, that irreplaceable milk that I cannnot get back or replicate even if I rebuild my stash.

jenbrenan

Saturday 24th of November 2018

Hi, So sorry this happened to you. I know exactly how you feel. Ugh... the pain will lessen with time. I do think building your supply back is a good idea but I know it's not the same as your original stash. Good luck to you!