Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Donor Milk

I just donated 580 ounces of breastmilk to a family in need.

Stored milk

I had pumped my heart out for Poppy while she was in the NICU. Even after she came home, I continued to pump to fill up bottles for her since she wasn't nursing well. Our neighbor gave us a deep freezer (for free!) that he had gotten from his grandmother but wasn't using. I started to fill it up. When we realized in early July that Poppy had a dairy sensitivity and I needed to give up milk, cheese, and butter.... that large collection of pumped breastmilk was suddenly a waste of space: we couldn't give it to her. So it sat. Every month a bit of dairy would accidentally find its way into my mouth, and every month we were reaffirmed that no, she still can't handle dairy. The milk continued to sit. She's five months old now, the milk is getting closer and closer to expiring, and who knows when she'll be able to drink it, if ever. I reached out to the community.

I first contacted the National Milk Bank on the recommendation from a friend. It's really interesting what they do. Instead of taking your frozen bags of milk and redistributing them as is, they combine milk from multiple donors and process it into a human milk product. This concentrated milk product is then sent to NICU's to be used for premature and seriously ill infants. That sounded great to me, but unfortunately, they would not take my milk due to my insulin shots. Because the milk is intended for such fragile babies, they can't risk any medication finding its way into the babies' mouths.

So I kept looking. A woman from Poppy's online birth group recommended Human Milk 4 Human Babies, or HM4HB. The website redirects you to their local facebook pages, where you join and write on the wall if you have milk to share or are looking for milk. Here is what I wrote,

"I live in Belleville in the STL Metro East. I have 580 ounces of frozen breast milk pumped between 5/14 and 7/6 that I cannot feed to my baby because she has a dairy sensitivity, and that milk was all pumped while I was consuming dairy. I take insulin and Synthroid for type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism. The National Milk Bank will not accept the milk due to the above medications. My baby was born premature on 5/10 at 33 weeks, so this milk from the first two months of her life is very fatty and nutritious."

I joined both the Illinois and Missouri pages, but only wrote my offer on the Illinois page. I didn't want anyone as far as Kansas City, say, to get their hopes up, but still, even on the Illinois page, I received quite a few messages from interested moms up in Chicago. The first decided it was too great a distance, which I completely agree, and the second was a doula for a couple from Sycamore. She gave my information to the mom, B, and I asked that B contact me before the end of two days or else I would move on to the next interested party. B did call me on the night of the second day and asked about my health issues. The doula had not given her all of the details from my post, only that I had a lot of milk to offer. She took down the name of my medications, not sounding sure of anything until she asked how much milk exactly was available. I told her 580 ounces to which she immediately replied, "I want it." Her voice was filled with conviction, "I want it." Then came the issue of how she would get it. She asked if I would meet her halfway, say in Springfield, and I said no. Here's where I became a meanie, but really, there were other people interested in the milk, and I get stressed out just driving the girls 20 minutes to STL! She sounded disappointed and then hung up. A little while later I got another call from her, and she said her husband worked it out with his job to drive the 5 hours down here today.

I had just put Rosemary up in her room for naptime and snuggled Poppy into the mamaRoo when B's husband, S, knocked on the door. He was a genuinely sweet man who was so in love with his daughter. He showed me a picture of her and just beamed with pride. He said he and his wife have been married for 17 years and this is their first child, now 3 months old. His wife is doing everything including taking medication to try to breastfeed the baby, but she isn't making enough milk. He brought some coolers inside and we loaded them up. The stash plus extra ice completely filled one large cooler and another medium sized one. I also gave him a list I had compiled of the dates, times, and amounts of each bag of milk, cause I'm organized like that.

When he was about to leave he pulled his wallet out and said he wanted to compensate me. I thanked him but turned him down. I didn't do it for money. I pumped all of that milk for my own baby, and when she couldn't have it, I'm glad to have found another (maybe even a better) use for it.

Logging Milk



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