My little baby girl Thyme is turning one year old on March 11th. Like, wait, what?! A whole year has gone by?? That little belly bump is now walking, giggling, saying Mama, Dada, Bye and Stop (she especially likes that last word!)… at the risk of sounding like every other mother of a child turning one: Where has the time gone?!
While I have so much to reflect on, and be thankful and grateful for over this past year – a healthy daughter with no major illnesses over the past year, family on both sides that are actively involved in her life and a beautiful friendship blossoming between Thyme and her older sister Tessa – there is another blessing that I had breathlessly hoped for, one that my older daughter enjoyed, and one that I feared my younger daughter might miss out on…
The blessing of ONE WHOLE YEAR of breast milk, 100% provided by generous donors!
When dozens of moms stepped up to feed Tessa for one whole year, I was floored by the kindness and generosity. But then a deep, dark fear started brewing in my heart. When I was growing little Thyme in my tummy, I found myself spending my pregnancy induced insomniac nights worrying and fretting – what if Thyme does not get the same blessing that Tessa did?
What if I can’t find the donors to feed her this superior nutrition? What if my second child misses out on this foundational food that my first child was so blessed to receive?
But despite my worries over the last year, God has provided for us and answered our prayers, and several amazing mommies have reached out to us once again to feed my daughter when I was unable to do so myself.
My Journey In Finding My Daughters Breast Milk
Super flashback recap! (Bear with me!)
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.
May 2013 – We started looking for our very first breast milk donations when I was in my second trimester with my daughter Tessa.
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!)
September 2013 to September 2014 – A community of mommies shower us with support, love and breast milk donations!
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! ONE FULL YEAR OF BREAST MILK FOR TESSA! My inability to produce breast milk did not affect my precious baby girl in the least, because many amazing women out there whose hearts are big enough not only for their own children, but for others as well, decided to step up and meet our need.
July 2014 – Found out I am pregnant with baby number two, and the fears and doubts creep in
I am told that every mom who starts work on baby number two goes through some normal feelings of fear and guilt. Will I be as good a mommy to TWO babies as one? Will my baby get as much love and attention with TWO kids in the family? Well, I had those fears, plus the nagging doubt that one daughter may not have the same opportunity nutritionally as the other. If I can’t get this baby to one year with breast milk, will I be a bad mom? Will I be able to find another group of caring moms willing to support and feed my new baby?
March 2015 to March 2016 – Generous milk donors step up once again to feed Thyme for ONE WHOLE YEAR
Here we are today! My “unrealistic” dream of getting two babies through one full year with REAL breast milk is achieved! A completely new batch of amazing, dedicated and passionate local mommies pledged to provide milk for Thyme, lifting the stress of searching and scrambling for more milk off of our shoulders, and slaying my fears that Thyme would go without the blessing Tessa enjoyed.
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.
Both of my daughters have enjoyed a degree of health that they 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 given to both of my little girls?!
I am a mother that cannot produce a drop of milk, with two daughters that have made it to one year old as breast fed babies. How unreal is that?!
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 MILK and yet my baby girls have 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.
The gift of breast milk for a newborn that would otherwise have none, is a gift that positively effects a child for life. Breastmilk 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.