I had moved halfway across the world from India to the US just 6 weeks before I delivered, to start a new job. Things were fine until the last few appointments when the doctor flagged that they were concerned about our baby’s growth. We kept a close watch and at 35 weeks, on a routine visit, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and rushed to the delivery room. I had a natural delivery after a long labour and our baby girl came out really tiny but so feisty. She was all of 3 lbs 8 oz. and as soon as she was born she was whisked away to the NICU.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt the range of emotions that I did when our baby girl was born. From inexplicable joy and relief to crippling anxiety and fear. Being separated from the baby and unable to hold her close was soul crushing. To add to it, Covid had gotten bad and there were increasing restrictions around visiting the NICU that added to my anxiety.
I felt so helpless that I was unable to care for her fully and the wonderful doctors and nurses were doing all the hard work. She never latched well and in order to keep up supply my doctors encouraged me to pump and bottle feed. I felt grateful that over the first two weeks I was able to pump and produce breast milk that I could take to her in the NICU.
There were so many babies in the NICU and without saying a word, I felt such a deep connection and empathy with all the parents. All of them were facing their own struggles – some mothers with their recovery, some with feeding, some with other health conditions of their babies. I felt like I wanted to support their journeys somehow but at the time I didn’t know what I could do.
Our baby was discharged two weeks later and I continued pumping more than what she needed and gradually built up a stash. This is when my husband thought of looking up milk banks where we could donate our breast milk. We found Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes and read about the experience of other donors and recipients and immediately decided to go ahead with the donation. We knew this was a real way for us to meaningfully give back to so many mothers and babies like Jayati.
The team at Milk Bank WGL was so wonderful to work with. They were incredibly helpful and supportive. They guided us through the donor application process – they educated us on the guidelines for donation, helped us get our testing done and facilitated a smooth donation experience. It felt so gratifying when we completed our donation.
I never imagined that my pregnancy and delivery would turn out the way that it did. I also never thought that my baby would not breastfeed. I never thought I would need to pump and didn’t know the first thing about pumping before. But all these experiences gave me and my husband so much humility and empathy for the struggle that so many other parents and babies go through. If all had gone smoothly, we would never have been able to appreciate it.
Now, we’re big champions of donating breast milk and encourage all our friends and family to consider it. We strongly recommend working with Milk Bank WGL – they are doing God’s work and you can play a part in it too.