Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Gift of Milk

Those of you who know me also know that I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding.  Both of our girls nursed until about 13-14 months and received nothing but breastmilk for the first six months of their lives. It's important to me for a lot of reasons, but primarily because there is no doubt in my mind that it is the best nourishment for a baby to receive.  (Let me also say this so that I don't offend or get attacked, I understand that there are legitimate reasons that some women are not physically able to breastfeed or why they may only be able to do so for a short time.  This is why formula exists and that's fine.)

After I had Tori, I was blessed with the ability to have a ridiculous abundance of milk.  By that, I mean we were able to donate several hundred ounces to the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank (more on them below) and Chris still ended up having to throw away about 400-500 ounces because it was too old to donate (I have no idea exactly how much he threw out because I didn't want to see it and made him promise not to tell me...since then, I've realized that I probably should have just made a private donation to a momma somewhere.)  With Abby, I always had plenty for her but since I wasn't working at the time, I didn't end up with quite so much left over and ended up donating about 100oz to mom in my hometown (for the record, it was not a positive experience and I urge caution if you do choose private donation).

This time around, my body has no way of knowing that Baby Aurora isn't likely to need my milk.  One of the cruel realities of mothers that lose an infant at or shortly after birth is that our bodies don't get the memo and will go right on with the original plan of producing milk for the baby that should need it. That often leaves us mommas facing the physical discomfort of a chest full of milk on top of the grief that we already feel.

Instead of wasting such a beautiful gift, my plan is to pump and donate milk for as long as my body will cooperate.  I know that the odds of being able to maintain a milk supply long-term aren't terribly high, but I do know that there will be milk.  And I know that there are babies in NICUs who need that milk.  That's where the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank comes in.  "IMMB provides pasteurized donor human milk by prescription or physician order to hospitals and outpatients throughout Indiana and the Midwest.  Premature and ill infants in hospital neonatal care units are our highest priority." (  They make donation incredibly easy and do great work in getting that milk to where it needs to be.

Unfortunately, the bags needed to donate milk can become expensive very quickly so when I first decided that this would be my plan, I contacted the Honeysuckle Company ( to see if they would be willing to help us.  I had received a sample of their bags with Abby and was very impressed with their quality and customer service; I was not disappointed this time around.  I immediately got a response from the president of the company who said that they would be more than willing to send us a packet of bags to get started and to simply let her know if we needed more in the future.  I have been so touched not just by her generosity, but in her sincerity in offering her prayers and kind words to us in the weeks that have followed my request. (As a side note, they also have baby food bags available for storing homemade baby food!)

Even in the face of something so painful, it is incredible to see the blessings that can be found if you just take the time to look for them.  There is obviously the blessing that will come to the babies who will eventually receive the milk.  But there is also the blessing that we have received in being able to share our story, which reached a whole new audience when our story was shared on Honeysuckle's Facebook page, and the blessing we have received in feeling the love and generosity of strangers who want to help us along in our journey.

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