I remember very clearly from the night the girls were born, being alone in my hospital room. A very kind nurse came and in brought me a breast pump. She said I should probably try to start pumping. "You may not get anything, but it will be good to try," she said.
Everything felt so foreign. I hadn't intended to have babies prematurely. I had planned to breastfeed, not to get acquainted with a breast pump.
I eventually got things sorted, and I remember the nurse being so encouraged that I'd actually dribbled a little bit into the cup. She offered to take it to the NICU, and promised she'd see that the girls got it.
All things considered, I was feeling very proud. I pumped again later that night, and then in the morning. At some point, a nurse brought me all the accouterments I'd need to pump, including collection cups and a miniature bottle of Palmolive dish detergent to wash all the parts of the pump.
(That quickly became Hubby's job, to wash the "dishes". I remember how makeshift it all felt, washing things in the little sink in the hospital room, but we managed to make do.)
The washing routine quickly took on a life of its own. We washed pump parts and bottles 6 to 8 times a day for a long, long time.
And all the while, the miniature bottle of dish detergent was a faithful friend. We had to refill it, of course (and during the first year we only did so with Palmolive, since that's what the hospital used), but it was so convenient [relatively speaking] to use.
When the girls graduated from bottles, around 15 or 16 months, we finally returned to using Cascade. But we kept our dear little bottle. SIX YEARS LATER, that bottle still sits on our counter. We don't wash very many things by hand, but it's super easy to grasp when I'm hand-washing the pieces to the girls' lunch kits.
Just last night, Hubby broke some bad news to me. The little bottle has a crack. "We'll have to get something else," he said. I honestly couldn't think too much about it. "Just leave it there for now," I told him. "We'll figure it out."
In truth, I wanted to make a picture of the little bottle that's been by my side through my girls' childhood to date. We've long since discarded the bottles and the sippy cups; the miniature forks and spoons are no more. This marks the end of another era.