By the time I was age twenty-five, my husband and I had degrees in hand and college done. I had already been a birthing partner for friends and taken so many classes for my major that covered birth. I felt super confident when we decided that year to start our family. We felt very happy when I got pregnant the first month we started. But our joy was cut short when I lost the baby the following month. It was one of those things that I was told was common and we were healthy so we could resume in three months. We felt the loss and a million questions ran through our minds of why it happened and would we have issues next time.
God had other plans for us. Three months later I was pregnant again. But we were anxious the whole time. When the 20 week ultrasound came they said the baby had a hole in its heart. We were crushed and preparing for me to deliver a baby that wouldn’t live long. We had to have other doctors look at our baby and get second opinions. One of the doctors was confident that it was a shadow of the ultrasound since the baby sounded healthy. As the weeks went by and they checked on the baby again and again it seemed more and more like the baby was normal.
By the time I was 8 months along everything seemed normal and we were beyond thankful. We felt tremendously blessed and I was looking for a way to pay that forward. I was always taught to exercise Christian charity, so one should give thanks by giving to others.
I had toured my fifth hospital and decided on where I wanted to deliver. During the tour the nurse mentioned they were the only hospital in the area with donor milk. That blew my mind. I didn’t realize you could donate breast milk. I had been donating hair for cancer patients since I was fourteen. So I was very interested in donating milk. I took a lactation class at my hospital and was determined to donate even if I never had an oversupply. Even 100 ounces minimum was enough for me. I prayed a lot about it. And I felt very called by God to make this commitment for other moms and babies out there.
Well our sweet boy came and he was very healthy. He was a very hungry baby and good nurser, and the milk came in six hours after labor. He was such a good nurser in fact that oversupply was instantaneous. I started saving milk right away. No one I knew had done this so even though I had the information it was a bit of a learning curve. That first year was a lot of learning how to balance baby and expressing milk. But my family was very supportive of me donating milk. I learned a lot and worked very closely with my lactation consultants.
By the time baby two arrived I felt like a pro and donated even more because I knew what to do. Each baby the gallons and gallons just increased by the grace of God. I’ve had to make more and more milk depot drop offs because output increases with each baby. I’ve never had to keep track of the amount donated because the coolers I use to transport are overflowing. It makes me so happy and humbled every time I give milk. Milk donation has become so much a part of our daily lives that my older two children will sit and play with our baby as I express and smile at me telling me “that’s milk for all the hungry babies”. My kids have come with me for milk depot drop offs since the beginning. The only thing left to do is buy a second deep freezer for more breast milk. And my biggest hope is that the parents of needy babies out there can rest well at night knowing their baby is getting the milk they need.
Through all this experience I’ve been able to be a long distance lactation guide for moms on increasing supply, how to balance oversupply, and how to build a routine for milk donation. So many women like me never knew you could donate milk and are eager to bless others for how God has blessed them. Now on baby number three and a donor for the third time, I pray I can keep doing this as long as God will give me children. We all know someone who has had a preemie baby or needed donor milk. The non-profit milk banks around the country need our help ladies. I’m very thankful to God and my three little ones who have made it possible for me to give to these families and babies in need.