The other day, while I was pumping, it really hit me that my daughter is over three months old. It has been three months since she has come into our lives, three months since she has made our family more beautiful and more full of love, and three months since I started breastfeeding, pumping, and building a small freezer stash.
Then it hit me.
Three months is the half-way point to some of the milk I have in the freezer approaching its bad date.
This got me thinking, I knew that we were not going to use all of the milk I have in the freezer over the next three months. Especially since every morning I have to pump (okay not HAVE to but I like to have a small stash in the freezer and that one pump per day gives me that peace of mind) and if I do not give that to my son, it goes into the freezer. My daughter does not like bottles and I do not feel the need to force the matter right now, I am thankful to be a stay at home mom for that reason, so the stash just keeps building. I wondered what I could do with the milk, since I absolutely refuse to let it go bad in the freezer and have to go to the dreaded place where other spoiled food goes (I am not even going to say the word).
I have heard of people baking with their breastmilk, using it in place of the milk that would normally go in the recipe, using it for milk baths, in lotions and more. While I was very interested in all of those things, they did not strike me as THE thing I wanted to do with something so precious to me. My breastmilk represents so much; it epitomizes my fight, my struggle, my determination and ultimately, my success and I wanted it to do something awesome.
A friend of mine, with a very giving soul, has posted before about breastmilk donation. She has done amazing things and helped so many moms who wanted their child to have breastmilk but could not breastfeed. I watched her send off tremendous amounts of breastmilk to families. I revered how she worked tirelessly to rebuild her stash just to send it off again.
I knew this is what I wanted to do with my milk.
I wish I had known about milk donation when my son was a baby and our breastfeeding journey unfortunately ended. Having now entered the donation community, I am absolutely amazed at the resilience these moms show; how they diligently work to make sure their babies always have breastmilk. I felt a strong need to be a part of this, to contribute to something I admire so greatly.
As I contacted my first mom, I had no idea what this journey had in store for me. Our locations were the first thing to consider, I am close by another donor of hers, which made the trip worthwhile for the amount of milk I had available to donate. The next step was a battery of questions to make sure our lifestyles were comparable and that my milk was right for their family. The questions absolutely blew me away, not in the sense that they were really surprising, but more that I was surprised that I had not considered that there would be lifestyle questions. Of course there would be! This is something they are putting in their child’s body, this is what is providing their child with everything they need to survive, something they are giving to the most precious thing in their lives.
The questions were personal, ranging from my medical history (contact with any blood born pathogens, HIV or hepatitis, etc) to my basic lifestyle choices (recreational drug or alcohol use and diet) and of course questions about the care and handling of the milk itself. After answering the thirty-two questions, the parents decided that we were a match, my milk would be right for their family. My milk was good enough for their child. I was surprised at how important that was to me. Not only was my milk good enough for my baby, it was good enough for someone else’s.
I pictured letting go of my milk being difficult, but it wasn’t.
As I watched it go, I knew that it was going to be loved, that it was needed, that it was going to the best possible place it could go. I felt the upmost pride and happiness in knowing that my milk would be used to help another child grow and thrive, that a mom was able to breastfeed her baby in her own way, because of us. That is the greatest gift I could have received.
Milk donation is amazing
Not only to the family receiving it but for the family donating it as well. I cannot wait until I build up enough milk to donate again. I would love to hear about other experiences with milk donation, donors and receivers alike!
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