after a late pumping session on a day I’d forgotten some pump parts…oops

Just before Thanksgiving I read this post, the first I heard about Jackson and Reverie.  The post showed up in my blog feed, linked from one of the blogs I read regularly. As with anytime I hear of a baby loss, and now in this case the loss of a mother, I hugged Simon a little tighter, lingered a little longer while nursing (one of the few times he’s still and cuddly) and said a little prayer for the family. Because of my own C-section and the fear and trauma that accompanied it, I don’t think I mentioned this story to Rob.

A few days later I saw an email in my neighborhood mom’s group asking for breast milk donations for the twins. I took note of the request, but as I don’t actually know the family or the mother making the request, I passed not knowing if they would want a milk from a stranger.

A few months later I saw a second call out asking for donors.  Some of the original donors had weaned their nurslings, or were no longer able to pump enough for their own baby and have extra.  I had 70+ ounces sitting in my freezer. Simon was not taking a bottle well (choosing to make up his deficit by nursing extra at night and increasing my supply even more) and I knew that I was going to end up throwing out a milk as it expired. Breastmilk is only good frozen for about 3 months.

So I answered the email. I included basic medical details about myself and Simon, and linked to my blog – as I figure this is the best way for a stranger to get a glimpse of who I am. I had 50 ounces ready to go. And thus began my journey as a milk donor; something I never thought I’d do.

I didn’t know how I would feel about nursing while I was pregnant.  I knew I wanted to, and I was lucky to have a very good support system in place. Going to a Le Leche League meeting before Simon was born and reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding are two of the best things I did to prepare for a baby.  I never had supply issues. And once I learned how to help Simon latch properly on day 2 in the hospital I never had any pain or problems.

I didn’t immediately love it, it was a way to feed him, it was easy, cost nothing and good for us both. Simon is a snacker, in the beginning nursing 12-15 times a day, but for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time. I think at almost 9 months we are down to an average of 8 times a day. And I really don’t want to think about what my attachment would have been like had I not been nursing. Today we have a good nursing relationship. He smiles at me and laughs because he enjoys it so much.  I’d kind of like to cut down on the pinching and clawing of my face and the distractablility when we are in public, but I’ll take it.

Breastfeeding is the one thing that’s always been easy. I am grateful for this and know we are lucky. The bottle however has been a struggle. I pump plenty and have a love / hate relationship with my pump, but Simon doesn’t like the bottle. Up until 6 months it was rare for him to ever take more than 5 ounces in a 12 hour stretch when I was gone.  Since starting daycare we are up to about 8. But I’m still pumping 12-15 each day, so lots of extra.  The build-up led to the donation.  I am working on a small stash for when we travel this spring, but other than that it was going to go to waste.

I’d heard of breast milk donation, but didn’t really get it.  It wasn’t something I’d ever considered for Simon and being a donor didn’t cross my mind until the great surplus.  The last two weeks Simon has suddenly upped his bottle in take, so I don’t know how much longer I will have extra.  But I’m willing to donate as long as I do and someone wants it.

I’ve helped coordinate two drops for Western Queens now with other mother’s dropping off of me picking up donations and scheduling a delivery to one of the family’s nannies. The first drop was a Styrofoam cooler full with 187 ounces; for the second drop I took a large freezer bag with 256.  The story has continued to spread.  I was interviewed, though not quoted for this Wall Street Journal article. I really can’t imagine what Jay and his family are going through, but the twins are thriving, and it feels really good knowing I’m doing something to help.

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3 thoughts on “Milk

  1. I remember that family. It was so heartbreaking I never mentioned them ti anyone else. It's incredible that you're able to help them in some way!

    Side note: Logan skipped the bottle / sippy cup and will only take milk from a straw cup. Something to try?

  2. It’s so wonderful that you were (are still?) able to do this. It’s a really good feeling to help out with such a basic need. I also ended up with a surplus and signed up to donate regularly to the milk bank at one of the local hospitals. They gave me a tour of the NICU to show me what I’d be helping and I was almost moved to tears. I had to stop when I stopped pumping at work at around a year, but I hope to be able to repeat whenever I am lucky enough to have another baby! 🙂

    1. I stopped pumping at a year. But the formal drive also stopped around that time when the twins hit 6 months and started solids. If I have a surplus with another baby I hope I can find a way to donate again.

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