Six Months of Breast Milk for Baby Tessa!

1625507_10153800612230594_258512967_n
Tessa turned six months old this last Tuesday, and I have absolutely NO IDEA where the time went! I’m convinced babies are little supernatural creatures that somehow manage to bend time and space as we know it. Time goes faster and somehow the tiniest little human becomes the biggest thing in your universe. WITCHCRAFT I SAY!! Hehe..
I am so so SO happy to report that in the past six months, Tessa has been 100% exclusively on breast milk. She has not had a single drop of formula. I don’t think you guys realize.. my wildest hopes were to have Tessa on breast milk for at least two months. Looking at the sheer volume of ounces that would require, I thought this was unachievable!
It simply amazes me that I had looked at this whole breast milk “problem” as one that was “unrealistic”. Amazing mommies who have reached out to us, and an amazing God that has provided for us and answered our prayers has shown us otherwise! We are beyond blessed.

My Journey In Finding My Daughter Breast Milk

I am in the mood for a “flashback episode” style blog post, so brace yourselves for a recapping of our donor breast milk journey so far!

1924858_10153899524065594_227098141_n

Summer of 2002- I lost my breast tissue and knew I was going to rely on donor milk to feed a future child.

I was born with a congenital abnormality called tuberous breasts hypoplasia. The condition alone affects the ability of women to breastfeed because the milk glands usually do not develop enough to produce breast milk. After finding various (thankfully noncancerous) lumps in my breasts as a teenager, my doctor decided to remove them, and in the process perform reconstructive plastic surgery. Due to the hypoplasia in my breasts, I had excess fibrosis connective tissue, and so as the lumps were being removed via free nipple graft, they had to take far more tissue than at first anticipated. I ended up receiving a partial mastectomy, which removed my milk glands and damaged the nerves around my areola – sealing the deal that I would never be able to produce breast milk and breastfeed in the future.
I had always been a firm supporter of breast feeding. I knew how important breast milk is to a growing baby. And so I’d always known that I would do my absolute best to procure this invaluable source of nutrition for my future baby. But it was always something I didn’t have to think about. It was in the elusive future.

dsc_4692

May 2013 – We started looking for our very first breast milk donations when I was in my second trimester.

Suddenly, my “tiny problem” of finding my unborn daughter breast milk seemed enormous.
I did not know how to go about broaching the subject to people who might be able to help. “Hey there, I see you have some pretty luscious titties. They got any spare boobie juice I might have?” And I certainly did not anticipate how painful inadvertent questions, suggestions or inquiries would be on the topic of breastfeeding. “Are you planning to breastfeed?” “You really should consider breastfeeding, it’s so important for a baby.” “How long do you plan to breastfeed?” “Have you produced any milk yet?” I would get ashamed, embarrassed and defensive all at once and would brush the subject off so quickly that any potential segue into asking for help or resources would be lost.
But luckily for me, a friend put me in touch with a local milk donor, and I began building my very first “milk stash” for my baby girl! I was so floored by the kindness shown my daughter, I was literally moved to tears! (Read more here!)

Early September 2013 – The freezer gets unplugged, and my entire breast milk stash is ruined, just days before Tessa’s birth.

Just days before Tessa was born, my friends freezer that contained my entire stash of donor breast milk was somehow unplugged and all of the milk was spoiled. You moms out there can imagine the third trimester hysterical tears I was crying that day. I was devastated. I had NO MILK for my daughter! None! And I had just moved to a new state with my husband in the military. I knew absolutely no one in the area to help me.
Frantic and defeated, I sent out a plea for help on the internet, asking for breast milk donations for my baby girl. (Read the original plea for donations here.)

dsc_5194

Mid-September 2013 – A community of mommies shower us with support, love and breast milk donations!

Wow, what a sap I am! I’m choking up just remembering all of this and writing it down. After I sent out my plea, it went VIRAL. I received an AMAZING flood of responses from mommies literally worldwide offering love, support, prayers and resources! My blog post asking for donations got over 17,000 views in just 24 hours!
Friends and family back home in California worked hard gathering milk and raising money to send me a shipment of milk. My story brought me to a number of local Pensacola mommies offering milk donations and networking options to ensure that I got a firm donor base and steady flow of milk for Tessa. Within days my freezer was filled to brimming with breast milk for my unborn daughter.. who was born just TWO DAYS after our first milk pick up!

dsc_9276

Late September 2013 – Nursing Tessa with donor milk and the Lact-Aid Nurser.

Tessa nurses like a champ! I started her on the Lact-Aid Nurser, so that in the hospital and coming home I was able to nurse my daughter at the breast with donor breast milk, sharing a special bond and knowing that I am giving her what nature intended. I got to see the realization of all of my prayers and hopes: Tessa does not have to have less than the best because of my deficiencies!
My inability to produce breast milk is not affecting my precious baby girl in the least, because there are amazing women out there whose hearts are big enough not only for their own children, but for others as well. That not only blesses me, but it blesses and directly benefits my child. How amazing! I am still in awe. (Read more about my early nursing experiences here.) 

twomonths

November 2013 – Two months of breast milk for baby Tessa!

My “unrealistic” dream of two months of breast milk for Tessa is achieved! At the two month mark, our freezer had a comfortable supply of milk and we had a number of local mommies pledging to provide milk for our baby girl, lifting the stress of searching and scrambling for more milk off of our shoulders.
I did not anticipate this level of compassion from others. I tear up just thinking about it! We are really, truly, completely and thoroughly thankful to everyone who has given of themselves.. often pumping in the wee hours of the night. Every single bag I pull out of my deep freezer, I note the date and the time, and my heart swells with joy for the mother that had the strength and the forethought to not only feed her little one, but to prepare a bag for a mommy that can’t make her own.

1898177_10153904731470594_1503084750_n

March 2014 – Six months of breast milk for baby Tessa!!

Flash forward to TODAY. Tessa is still 100% breast milk fed! OH. MY. GOD!!! I never, never, NEVER imagined this would or could happen. This momma’s heart swells with joy at the women who have helped this to happen, and continue to help me give my daughter the best! I have made so many friends along the way, many of whom I hope I have the pleasure of knowing for life.
To date Tessa has not been sick ONCE! Sure, we’ve had a couple sniffles and she had a tiny cough that lasted about half a day. But her breast milk boosted immune system has kept my little princess happy and healthy and fit. She is not under or overweight. She sleeps on a regular schedule. Her bowel movements are normal and regular. She is enjoying a degree of health that she would never be able to reach on formula alone, not to mention the countless subtle and long lasting health benefits that breast milk provides. Can I even begin to express how truly thankful and grateful I am.. for every single drop?!

My Hopes (and Worries!) For The Future

Throughout the past couple of months we have gotten pretty low on milk. It’s gotten pretty nerve wracking at times. But every time I start seriously researching formula, wonderful mommies have stepped up and provided enough milk to get us through another week.
Now, with our upcoming cross country move with the military, I’m starting to worry about finding new donors in a new place. Local moms have filled my freezer with enough milk to get us through the move.. and this is awesome, because now I don’t have to worry about searching for donors while trying to find a house / pull things in and out of storage / and do the thousand other things that come with a military move.
But once we’re settled, I’m uncertain and a little nervous about finding new donors. I’d like to see Tessa on breast milk until she weans herself (we’re doing baby led weaning), and who knows how long that will be? At the moment, organic avocado is just something fun to squish and smash and smear all over daddy.
So am I still wondering where the next few months of milk will come from? Sure I am. Is it hard at times? Sure. But am I as worried or stressed or hopeless as I once was? NO WAY! I am putting it all in God’s hands and taking it one day at a time! He has provided thus far, I have no reason to doubt Him now!
I’ve never been the “If I can do it, so can you!” type, but now I find myself talking to so many mothers that tell me, “I can’t produce enough milk for my kids, so we switched to formula, it makes me feel awful, but what can I do?” And I don’t hesitate to encourage them towards breast milk donations. If I can’t produce ANY and yet my baby girl has enjoyed the best, then YOU CAN TOO! Just give it to God, reach out, and try!
With groups like Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets, there is a whole world of moms out there with a desire to care for and protect and share the love that they are blessed with. Breast milk really is “liquid love”! Every single child deserves the essential health benefits of human milk.
To quote an earlier blog post of mine: The gift of breast milk for a newborn that would otherwise have none, is a gift that positively effects a child for life. Breast milk fed babies are proven to experience:
– Lower incidence of certain viruses
– Lower incidence of respiratory illness
– Reduction in ear infections, meningitis
– A 20 percent lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and 1 year
– A natural buildup of protections against many forms of illness
– Potential protection from developing allergies
– An increase in cognitive development (greater intelligence)
– A lower incidence of obesity as a teen or adult
Breast milk donation truly is one of the most beautiful, pure, and selfless acts a mother could do for another.

To all mothers who have taken the selfless act of sharing good health and life-giving nutrition to a child other than your own, and relieved a fellow mother of the self-esteem destroying burden of being unable to produce milk for her child – you are amazing. THANK YOU for six months (or more!) of breast milk for my baby girl! God Bless!!

Gingi Freeman on sabfacebookGingi Freeman on sabinstagramGingi Freeman on sabpinterestGingi Freeman on sabtwitter
Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
at
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

20 thoughts on “Six Months of Breast Milk for Baby Tessa!

  • 13 March, 2014 at 9:46 pm
    Permalink

    What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing.I love to hear about mommies helping other mommies and doing it with such love. Your baby is adorable.

    Reply
    • 17 March, 2014 at 4:50 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you so much! I think she’s rather precious myself! 😉 And yes, I had no idea moms could be such a unified source of awesomeness! Being a mommy is eye opening and amazing!!

      Reply
  • 14 March, 2014 at 1:37 am
    Permalink

    Amazing how God has weaved Himself through this story and brought our families together. Mind blowing really.

    Reply
    • 17 March, 2014 at 4:50 pm
      Permalink

      So blessed to know you, momma! And I’ll be seeing you SOON! ^_^

      Reply
  • 14 March, 2014 at 2:10 am
    Permalink

    She is such a blessed little baby!!! I miss her so much!

    Reply
    • 17 March, 2014 at 4:51 pm
      Permalink

      She misses her auntie too!

      Reply
  • 14 March, 2014 at 3:54 am
    Permalink

    Half a year!? My beautiful little Grandbaby is growing so fast…healthy and happy thanks to the generosity of moms. I would like to thank all the selfless women who’ve contributed to the daily needs of Tessa. What a blessing you all have been. I didn’t want Gingi to miss out on the joy of breast feeding, even though I knew she was going to have to ‘supplement’ as I did (only I used formula back in the ’80s). When the doctor said she “should” be able to nurse future kids, I was relieved and held onto that hope. I prayed that she’d be able to have that bonding experience. After the first surgery, (that took literally TWICE as long as planned), the doctor told us he’d had to remove much more tissue than he’d thought he’d be taking. He’d stopped when he removed just under the amount that qualifies as a “mastectomy”, because we’d not given permission for that, making it a “modified mastectomy”. But then, during the second surgery some months later, he went back in and removed more. I still prayed for a miracle, I imagined Gingi someday suckling her baby at her breast. But the third surgery pretty much sealed the deal…she had nice breasts now, but barring a miracle, she’d never lactate.
    Jump ahead 10 years…and all the blessings that have come along, when, through a “mommy grapevine” all these people came together to feed one newborn! Oh, and I DID get my miracle (yes, I’m a greedy mom, I want my kids to have it all!), thanks to info from a friend of my girls, I learned about & ordered the Lact-Aid Nurser. Then, while waiting for news of the birth of my first grandchild, I got to see images of Tessa latching onto the breast of her mommy, my little girl…thanks to this modern day miracle! Sometimes God gives us the desires of our hearts in a way that we can’t even imagine!

    Reply
  • 14 March, 2014 at 7:28 am
    Permalink

    We’ve made it 18 months on donor milk mama. I lost my milk when my first was 6 weeks old. If we can do it, you can, too! 18 MONTHS! Can you even imagine!? I couldn’t a year and a half ago!

    Reply
    • 17 March, 2014 at 4:52 pm
      Permalink

      18 months?!?! WOW!!! That is so awesome!!! You give me hope!!! And good for you, that is so amazing.. what a great mommy you are!

      Reply
  • 14 March, 2014 at 10:47 pm
    Permalink

    God is so good!! It’s such a blessing that Tessa has had six months of breast!!! <3

    Reply
    • 17 March, 2014 at 3:44 pm
      Permalink

      Yes He is! All the time! We are beyond blessed!

      Reply
  • 19 March, 2014 at 7:11 pm
    Permalink

    This story is very inspiring. I was wondering if I could share some of this story in a zine I am doing, called Lets Talk: Human Breast Milk for Human Babes. I am doing my first issue about donating and receiving human from milk bank, eats on feets or human milk for human babies. I am doing it because for one I am in a course Breastfeeding for Healthcare providers, two I am an aspiring midwife, three none of my friends have heard of milk banks or community milk shares before so I think it is important to get out there. I totally understand if not, but if yes, I can send you a copy of the zine when it is finished. Cheers, Raven Fawkes, email faux real@live.ca

    Reply
  • 20 March, 2014 at 4:56 am
    Permalink

    I just read this post again… it absolutely warns my heart! <3 <3 <3
    I remember reading your original plea and sharing it. I prayed and was anxious for you! I'm so happy Tessa had the milk she needs!

    Reply
    • 20 March, 2014 at 2:25 pm
      Permalink

      Ahhhh, it’s crazy to think I’ve had such awesome friends with me every step of the way! Can’t wait to hang out with you girl! *BIG HUGS*

      Reply
  • 28 May, 2014 at 7:53 pm
    Permalink

    I am so glad you were able to find help for Tessa. My baby is now a month old and exclusively on formula and I hate it. She was born at 36 weeks and had to spend a week in the NICU at Sacred Heart. My constant pumping efforts were all in vain — My OB’s nurse prescribed me something that dried my milk up basically overnight. Do you have any leads on Pensacola-area mommies that could possibly help with donor milk? I would be so grateful if this were the case <3

    –Jackie

    Reply
    • 29 May, 2014 at 3:11 pm
      Permalink

      Jackie, can you send me an e-mail at gingifreeman@gmail.com and let me know a little more about where you’re located? I’d love to introduce you to some of my old donors!!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HEY THERE! Are YOU a Domestic Geek?

Subscribe to Domestic Geek Girl's Weekly Newsletter and don't miss a post!! Receive weekly blog post summaries *** Be the first to know about giveaways *** Enjoy exclusive offers, discounts, specials and MORE!