This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.
This was published in a recent issue of Life & Style magazine.
When Joey was born 9 weeks early, he was not able to breast feed right away. I didn’t even see him until he was 12 hours old, and didn’t take him out of the isolette until he was 6 days old. Due to the trauma of his delivery, his body basically shut down his digestive system in an effort to re-route all oxygen to his brain and heart. He got his first drops of breast milk through his feeding tube around the 6 day mark, I believe. This meant if I wanted to breast feed him eventually, if I wanted him to have breast milk, I had to start pumping. I knew all through my pregnancy (and actually long before I got pregnant) that I intended to breast feed. I knew those nutrients and antibodies are like none other when it comes to nourishing a growing baby. But then I had a preemie and it became even more important. Studies have been done on preemie milk and it has been found to he higher calorie, and vital in providing antibodies he didn’t store up on in the third trimester. Pumping was HARD work. It was not easy to be awake enough to pump every 2 hours, especially when recovering from a c-section. Sitting straight up was one of the most painful things those first few days, but I pressed on. I don’t think pumping ever got a ton easier – it was painful, draining (in more ways than one!), time-consuming, exhausting – but all that work was paving the way for us eventually being able to breast feed.
By the time Joey came home almost 6 weeks later I had around 1000 ounces of breast milk in our freezer. About halfway through his NICU stay we had to purchase a deep freezer because both our regular freezer at home and his space in the NICU freezer were overflowing.
The first couple weeks home, I continued to pump. By being consistent with my pumping, I had trained my body to make a LOT of milk, about 3 times what he was eating. I gave him a few bottles off and on as we worked on breast feeding, and after a couple weeks he was exclusively nursing.
This left me with a ton of milk we simply wouldn’t use. I worked HARD for that milk. I wanted to use it for something good. There is a hospital near here that does take donations, after you go through a process of becoming a donor. They then sell it to families for (from what I’ve heard) $2.50 per ounce.
Enter Human Milk 4 Human Babies. This organization strives to connect donor moms with babies in need. Each state has a page on Facebook where you can connect with families. Since my milk was from a preemie, I wanted to be able to bless another preemie family in need with it. I got connected to a mom with an adopted former preemie who has medical needs that leave him completely dependent on breast milk. Because he is adopted, his mom can’t produce breast milk for him, so he’s reliant on donations. When I told her I had around 1000 ounces for her, she told me it brought tear to her eyes. I was able to empty my freezer and hand deliver the milk. I loved the personal connection of it all! He has a story, he has a name, I have a picture – it means something to me.
She thanked me so many times and I told her it was me who should be saying thank you, too. Without pumping all that milk, I never would have had a milk supply to exclusively nurse Joey 6 weeks in. And the fact that I was able to pump enough to feed him AND provide for over a months worth of milk for another boy in need blessed MY life! All that time and effort wasn’t for nothing. I provided life-giving nutrition for two very special preemie boys. That’s something to be proud of and I definitely am.
So, yes Life & Style magazine, it is 2013. A time when we know human milk is best for human babies. And a time when we have the technology an resources to connect families in need with the amazing gift of breast milk through donations from moms like me.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 5 with all the carnival links.)
- An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment — Kyle (of JEDI Momster and) writing at Natural Parents Network, exclusively breastfed three healthy babies. So when she was pregnant with her fourth, she assumed she would have no breastfeeding troubles she could not overcome. Turns out, her fourth baby had his own ideas. Kyle shares her heartfelt thoughts on how she came to terms with the conclusion of her breastfeeding journey.
- It Take a Village: Cross Nursing — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares how cross-nursing helped her baby in their time of need, and how that experience inspired her to create a community of cross-nursing and milk-sharing women.
- Random little influences and Large scale support communities lead to knowing better and doing better — amy at random mom shares how her ideas and successes involved with breastfeeding evolved with each of her children, how her first milk sharing experience completely floored her, and how small personal experiences combined with huge communities of online support were responsible for leading and educating her from point A to point D, and hopefully beyond.
- Mikko’s weaning story — After five years of breastfeeding, Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how the nursing relationship with her firstborn came to a gentle end.
- My Milk is Your Milk — Lola at What the Beep am I Doing? discusses her use of donor milk and hhow she paid the gift back to other families.
- World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Celebrating Each Mother’s Journey — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy lists her experiences and journey as a breastfeeding mother.
- Working Mom Nursing Twins — Sadia at How Do You Do It? breastfed her twin daughters breastfed for 7 months. They made it through premature birth and NICU stays, her return to full-time work, her husband’s deployment to Iraq, and Baby J’s nursing strike.
- So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each.
- Milk Siblings: One Mama’s Milk Sharing Story (and Resources)Amber, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, shares how her views on milk sharing were influenced by her daughter receiving donor milk from a bank during a NICU stay, and how that inspired her to give her stash to a friend.
- Humans Feeding Humans — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares ideas on how we can celebrate all the different ways modern mommies feed their babies. While we are comfortable with the breastmilk-formula paradigm, she proposes that we expand our horizons and embrace all the different ways mamas feed their infants.
- When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned — MandyE of Twin Trials and Triumphs shares the challenges she faced in feeding her premature twins. She’s still learning to cope with things not having gone exactly as she’d always hoped.
- Taking Back My Life By Giving Away My Milk — When Amanda Rose Adams‘s first child was born, he was tube fed, airlifted, ventilated, and nearly died twice. In the chaos of her son’s survival, pumping breast milk was physically and mentally soothing for Amanda. Before long her freezer was literally overflowing with milk – then she started giving it away.
- The Tortoise and the Hare — Nona’s Nipples at The Touch of Life discusses why we care about breast milk and formula with everything inbetween.
- Finding My Tribe of Women Through Milk Sharing — Mj, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center shares her journey breastfeeding with low milk supply and supplementing with donor milk using an at the breast supplemental nursing system. She shares the impact milk sharing has had on her life, her family, and how it saved her breastfeeding relationship.
- Human Milk for Human Babies — Sam at Nelson’s Nest shares her perspective on milk-sharing after an unexpected premature delivery left her pumping in the hopes of breastfeeding her son one day. Sam’s milk was an amazing gift to the other preemie who received it, but the connection was a blessing in the donor mom’s life too!
- Sister, I Honor You — A mother feeding her baby is a triumph and should be honored, not criticized. Before you judge or propagate your own cause, go find your sister. A post by Racher: Mama, CSW, at The Touch of Life.
- Every Breastfeeding Journey Is Different, Every One Is Special — No two stories are alike, evidenced by That Mama Gretchen’s collaboration of a few dear mama’s reflections on their breastfeeding highs, lows and in betweens.
- A Pumping Mom’s Journey — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares about her journey pumping for her son, who was born at 29 weeks.