Around May 2008 my husband and I decided to try and start a family. Like so many others, we encountered problems. We saw our regular doctor who referred us to a fertility specialist. We tried month after month with assisted reproductive therapies to get pregnant but with no luck. I have to say, those 18 months of trying to conceive were the hardest time emotionally and mentally that I (and our marriage) have ever endured. I’d like to think I came out as a stronger person because of it, and our marriage is stronger too.
Our October 2009 IVF proved to be successful, and our son, Liam, was born July 2010. Breastfeeding at first was challenging. I had to use a nipple shield to help him latch, he was tongue tied and had to have it clipped, and he had a bad case of jaundice which caused him to be lethargic and not want to eat (which is necessary to get rid of the jaundice). We just thought we had a tan baby who rocked a laid back attitude – we couldn’t have been more naive!
I was instructed to pump around the clock in addition Liam nursing to help bring in my milk. So I pumped, and I pumped, and I pumped. Then my milk came in. Whoa baby, did it come in! It was like someone opened up the somewhat painful, flood gates! I felt like a cow – literally! When Liam wasn’t eating, it seemed that I was always pumping. His jaundice subsided and we battled through reflux before breastfeeding finally started to go more smoothly.
I started storing all the milk Liam didn’t eat. When I returned to work, I continued pumping to keep my supply up so I could nurse him until he weaned on his own. After a few months, I ran out of freezer space. I pumped enough to feed Liam fresh milk all the time. I actually bought an upright deep freezer to accommodate all the frozen breast milk I didn’t know what to do with!
People kept telling me I should donate it. But to whom? So after some research, I found Human Milk for Human Babies via Facebook; a place where people in need of breast milk can connect up with people willing to donate breast milk. I posted that I had extra milk if anyone wanted it and waited for a response.
Becky sent me a message. She told me about her blog which allowed me to “get to know” and understand her and her family. We planned a meeting for her to pick up the milk. Everything went great. Looking back, she probably thought I was crazy because I was in a hurry and sort of raced in, dumped the milk, and raced off! Plus, I already knew everything about her from her blog, right?! J On some level, I felt good helping her on her breastfeeding journey. As time went on, I met Becky a few more times to give her milk. Each time it felt like seeing an old friend. It was almost comforting to know that I was personally making a difference in her and her family’s lives.
Around October 2011, my husband and I decided to try and expand our family. Liam was still breastfeeding so fertility medications were out of the question. We had overcome so many obstacles (overactive let-down, biting, and several nursing strikes in additional to all the early issues). To me, weaning Liam would mean ruining this amazing bond we shared. Not to mention that with fertility treatment, there is never a guarantee of pregnancy. So I could potentially end up weaning Liam and still be left without a baby!
We forged ahead with an unmedicated IUI cycle, which our fertility specialist informed us would likely be unsuccessful. I knew I had to at least try it because the only alternative was to wean Liam and proceed with medications. This plan allowed Liam to wean himself when he was ready. Shock doesn’t describe how we felt on Halloween 2011 to find out we were pregnant!
Liam and I continued on our breastfeeding journey but it gradually slowed down and eventually stopped around Easter 2012 because my milk dried up due to pregnancy. I was devastated to end our breastfeeding journey. Liam was, too, and did not give up easily on nursing. He did eventually surrender to a bottle with cow’s milk.
There’s something unexplainable, almost impossible to put into words, about the amazing bond a mother and baby share through breastfeeding. I always tell people who ask that breastfeeding is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also been the most rewarding.
We now have a beautiful 3 month old little girl. Our breastfeeding journey is just starting. We haven’t had too many obstacles thus far (fingers crossed that we don’t). But we have been lucky enough to be blessed with a plentiful supply of milk again which we have already started donating.
There are a lot of things I do wrong as a parent, but one thing I’m good at is pumping, storing, and donating breast milk! So I plan to continue. To me, donating breast milk is sort of the affirmation that I was able to overcome obstacles for the benefit of my child(ren). I’m elated to have the ability to help other parents overcome their own obstacles, even if only in a very small way. Because we, as parents, can use all the help we can get!
Today's Lesson: I think Lauren's last line says it all - We, as parents, can use all the help we can get! I so agree with her. And have yet to find the words to adequately explain to her how much we appreciate the thounds and thousands of ounces of help she has given us.