Nearly 20 months ago, an amazing person came into my life; my little man was born. I never imagined that I would be providing breastmilk to him for this long. My goal was to breastfeed for at least one year and just go from there but he was born tongue-tied, just like his brother and just like his father.
His father and brother don’t have any real issues with their tongue-ties but my little man does. If you want to know more about tongue-ties, click here. I am not going to go into all the details that come with this condition. Because of his tongue-tie though, I wasn’t able to breastfeed him for very long.
With his brother, I made it to six weeks and then we switched to exclusively pumping. It was a hard choice and I grieved the loss of my breastfeeding relationship but I felt good that I would be able to provide him breastmilk. I never knew if we would ever have another child but I felt strongly that I would breastfeed that child for as long as we could if the time came.
When my little one came, I was excited when he latched on just 45 minutes after he was born. I felt confident that we wouldn’t struggle at breastfeeding. Even when he was nursing constantly on day two, I didn’t think we would have any problems. There were a few indications that things weren’t going well such as the lipstick shape of my nipple when he was finished nursing and the clicking in his jaw.
It wasn’t until he bit my nipple and ripped it off that I decided I needed to stop nursing him. There is a procedure that can be done to release a tongue-tie but my husband did not want to put him through the surgery. There was no guarantee that it would help his condition. Not only did our little one have a tongue-tie, he also had an upper lip-tie which contributed to his problems.
This though, began my journey of exclusively pumping. With my first son, I was an overproducer. I had heard of donating milk but at the time, thought it was disgusting and didn’t believe anyone would really use human breastmilk. It wasn’t until I was faced with dumping my milk that I began to research human donor milk and applied to be a donor.
Once I learned all that the milk goes through, I knew how safe it was and I loved that I was helping premature and sick babies get through difficult times. I donated over 16.5 gallons to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Denver. I volunteered for them and processed labels to be sent to hospitals all over the metro area.
At the time, human milk wasn’t an option in the hospital and was only dispensed from the milk bank. Their goal was to have some donor milk on hand from the moment a baby was born and needed it. Their work paid off and human donor milk is now available at local hospitals.
While loved how rewarding donating to the milk bank felt, I also longed for a more personal relationship with the recipients. I mentioned this longing to the director and talked about milk donation pins as well as possible an “adopt a baby” program but due to patient privacy, this was not an option.
When I became an over producer this time, I applied as a donor again but sought private donation as well. With the private donation, I was able to meet babies that were receiving my milk. I did not take any payment for my milk although some women do. I gave my milk in exchange for milk storage bags (for the most part) and also donated to the milk bank.
Last April though, I met a wonderful family. Their daughter was 10 weeks old and mom couldn’t provide all the milk her daughter needed due to a medical condition. It is a rare condition and despite her diagnosis, she tried hard to breastfeed her daughter and pump extra for her when she could.
I rarely had people pick up milk from my home but I felt called to welcome them to my home and they came. I was able to hold her and witness her nursing with her mother. I usually just donated one time and never saw the recipient again, but I felt different with them and knew there would be more donations.
As months passed on, I donated more and more to them. Every time, this mother brought her daughter. Even when I was being a hermit and didn’t want company, she encouraged me to hold her daughter or at the very least, peek in while she was sleeping in the car. I don’t think there was a time where she picked up milk without her daughter. There were times when I met the rest of her children and her husband.
I had several other mothers that I donated to more than once but no one as often or as long as I donated to this family. They prayed for me and provided so much for me that I never could have imagined. They funded a beautiful keepsake of preserved breastmilk for me as well.
In fact, I had given this family my very early milk that I had pumped which was full of beautiful colostrum. It was pumped just a few days after my son was born and I had a hard time giving it to them. When I decided to make a keepsake with my milk, I asked the mother if I could have some of my early milk back. I had told her I had been crying about the fact that I gave it to her even though I was happy that her daughter would benefit from it.
That’s when she said that she too, had cried over this milk. She was crying for me because she knew how special the milk was. She gave me the earliest milk back and paid for a keepsake. I will cherish it forever. It was created by Baby Bee Hummingbirds in Australia; although I cannot support her work any longer as she has decided to preserve embryos. Embryos are human babies and are not jewelry.
In October, I had planned on “weaning.” I shared this with the family and explained I wasn’t sure how much more milk I would be able to provide, but October came and went and I was still pumping. I couldn’t seem to stop. I knew my son needed the milk. Even after cranio-sacral therapy, chiropractic work, and now food therapy, he still wasn’t eating solids well enough for me to give it up.
And here I am, at nearly 20 months, still pumping for him. But, my private donation to this family has come to an end. Last weekend, the entire family came to pick up the final donation. I didn’t know this would be the final donation but I knew it was coming. I felt that her daughter was approaching her first birthday and asked her when they arrived.
That’s when it happened. That’s when I got sad and the tears started to flow. I didn’t realize how special this was until this particular relationship was coming to an end. While I had an oversupply of milk, I had no idea how important it was for families who were receiving it. I had no idea how thankful a family could be. I had no idea that someone like me could provide something life saving to another family. I didn’t think I was anything to anyone and they showed me I was so much to them.
I hope we continue to be friends. I am sure we will in some capacity and I am so blessed to know them and to have been this baby’s milk mama. I am so honored to have been led to them and provide nourishment in a way that is so rare only few experience it. Women Marines are rare and I was one. This experience, was even more rare.
Here I am, with my milk baby. She is beautiful. She is so big now and I can’t wait to see her grow even more. Thank you for sharing her with me and allowing me to help you reach your goal!
You connected me in a way I have never been connected to someone. You are why I chose private breastmilk donation. Thank you for everything! I love you both.
– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
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