One Year of Breast Milk for Baby Tessa!!

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So I’m not gonna lie.. I used to see all my friends posting their “My baby is one year old today, how has time flown, boo hoo hoo” posts, and the childless me always thought, “It’s just a birthday! Come on! Like, you really didn’t see this coming? Is one year really all that emotional?”
Well YEAH. Turns out, it very much is. Because brace yourselves.. MY LITTLE GIRL IS ONE YEAR OLD!!! How has time flown?!?! No, really. One whole year. One WHOLE year?! I’m not sure if the time flying is cause for celebration or mourning, because the thought that I only have 17 more of these lightning fast, Weeping Angel don’t blink years before my tiny baby is a legal adult is just downright frightening!!
While I have so much to reflect on, and be thankful and grateful for over this past year – an extremely healthy daughter with no serious (or even mild!) illnesses over the past year, family on both sides that are actively involved in her life, and the rare blessing of relatively peaceful nights with ample sleep – there is one particular blessing I had hoped and dreamed of, but had never seriously dared to expect..

I am so so SO happy to report that for one whole year, from birth to first birthday, Tessa has been 100% exclusively on breast milk provided by generous donors!

She has not had a single drop of formula. NOT ONE.
My wildest hopes were to have Tessa on breast milk for at least two months. Then I began looking wistfully at six months. After that, I just finally put it all in God’s hands, (where it was all along, really) and started taking the milk donor hunt one day at a time. And here we are one year later!!
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 know I have recapped our journey “flashback episode” style before, but I am going to do it again, so bear with me! Hehe.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.

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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.)

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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!

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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.)

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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.

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

Tessa is still 100% breast milk fed! OH. MY. GOD!!! I had never, never, NEVER imagined this would or could happen. This momma’s heart swells with joy at the women who got us to this point, and who made it possible for me to give my daughter the best! At this point, it became abundantly clear that the many friends I made along the way are some I will have the pleasure of knowing for life.
By six months, Tessa had not been sick ONCE! Sure, we had a couple sniffles and she had a tiny cough that lasted about half a day. But her breast milk boosted immune system kept my little princess happy and healthy and fit. She was 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?!

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September 2014 – ONE WHOLE YEAR OF BREAST MILK FOR BABY TESSA!!

Now here we are today! I am a mother that cannot produce a drop of milk, with a one year old, exclusively breast fed baby. How unreal is that?!
Throughout the year we have gotten pretty low on milk. I’ve spent my share of frustrated evenings trolling Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats on Feets and local Le Leche League Facebook groups. And as Tessa got older, it got harder and harder to find people willing to donate to “an older baby”. It’s gotten pretty nerve wracking at times. But every time I started seriously researching formula, wonderful mommies have stepped up and provided enough milk to get us through another week.
As I’ve said in previous blog posts, 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.

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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 one whole year of breast milk for my baby girl! God Bless!!

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Gingi Freeman
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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

12 thoughts on “One Year of Breast Milk for Baby Tessa!!

  • 12 September, 2014 at 4:13 am
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    What a miracle! God is so good. Now that she’s a year old, are you going to introduce goat milk or raw cow’s milk? I’m so proud of you.

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    • 12 September, 2014 at 4:03 pm
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      Yeah, I’m going to finish off what we have in the deep freezer (since it won’t save for baby #2) and then start stocking the freezer for this little one and switching Tessa to organic goat milk / solid foods..

      Reply
        • 16 September, 2014 at 4:25 pm
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          You know, I had heard that, but then I had some very concerned mommas state emphatically that the expiration is somewhere between 6-12 months. My little one goes through milk so fast it really hasn’t been an issue, but now when I consider saving milk for my new little one, I would really like to get to the bottom of the “does frozen milk expire” question.. lol! Thanks for the resources!!

          Reply
  • 12 September, 2014 at 1:52 pm
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    Thank you for such great posts! I am a seasoned Mom. 56 4 grown children and almost 5 grands! But I remember my breast feeding days and you are certainly doing the best thing ever for your beautiful Tessa! So yes, if there are any New Moms thinking about breast feeding! Think no more do it!!!!! Even if you are a working Mom and only get a certain amount of Maternity leave! Do it! Thank you again, Tessa’s Mom for your dilgence and honesty in all your posts! You are great!

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    • 12 September, 2014 at 4:02 pm
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      Awww, thank you for your encouraging words Melody! You are a delight!

      Reply
  • 14 September, 2014 at 12:29 am
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    Aw, I love love love this post! It is amazing how quickly they grow. We blink and they are all grown up! My little guy turned 2 in July and I was like “what?! how?!”
    We were able to breastfeed until 24 months, when my milk dried up at 9 weeks pregnant. The weaning process was so gentle and slow, it made my heart warm to know it was an easy transition! Random mornings he will still ask to nurse, to which I offer and remind him there is no milk. He latches for .1 second and then says he’s all done, LOL.

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    • 16 September, 2014 at 4:26 pm
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      Yeah, I seriously cannot believe how quickly Tessa is growing.. it just boggles my brain! Does time speed up with children or what?! That is SO AWESOME how long you were able to breast feed.. I am now wistfully hoping to keep Tessa on milk till 18 months, but it really depends on how much milk I can save / store for this new baby.. But GOOD JOB you awesome momma for giving your child the best!!

      Reply
  • 15 September, 2014 at 7:08 pm
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    How I wish I would have known about donors. I would have given my right arm for it. Good job on reaching a year! Also, keep up the wonderful work of educating others on you website. 🙂

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    • 16 September, 2014 at 4:28 pm
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      Yeah, I try to get the word out on donors because so many people just don’t know!! It’s one of the more amazing things I’ve encountered in my short year of parenting.. hehe..

      Reply
  • 15 January, 2015 at 6:36 pm
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    This is an incredible story to read! I am almost in tears. I donated milk to a friend in need a few months back. That felt so so good. I’ve wanted to donate to others and haven’t been sure how to go about it or maybe I just didn’t put enough effort into it before. I’m not overproduced like I once was as Baby Boy eats more and more food at nearly 2, but I might really have to put this on my list for our next child – donate more milk.

    I’m so incredibly happy to hear that you feed your daughter for an entire year strictly on donated milk. It moves me! 🙂

    Reply
    • 15 January, 2015 at 7:09 pm
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      Yes, you should donate if you feel called to! There are SOOOOO many women in need! You can donate through groups like Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats on Feet.. you can find them on Facebook! That is so nice that you donated without knowing of the networking sites.. that is amazing!! God bless you! <3

      Reply

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