How can we be all those things? Well, we believe that breastfeeding our babies is an incredible gift, but that sometimes it simply doesn't happen the way we planned.
We are not here to encourage or discourage any particular choice parents make on how to nourish their babies. We are here to support the ones who struggled or are struggling to breastfeed and are facing the guilt that often comes along with deciding to stop breastfeeding. We have both experienced this personally, and have gone through all the guilt alone, so we wanted to start this tumblr to post encouragement and to answer your questions and concerns as you make this sometimes difficult and traumatic transition.
We want you to bottle-feed without fear of judgement, and without guilt. You are doing the best that you can do for your baby given your particular circumstances. Be assured that the love and care you take in making this sometimes agonizing decision shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that love can come in bottles, too.
So, if you’ve read my story, you’ll know that I was unable to continue breastfeeding/pumping after around 6.5 weeks, and around 7 weeks, I began to give my son Lucas (born 15 September 2011) around 8-10 ounces of breastmilk at night and organic formula during the day. A couple people have asked me about donor breastmilk- wondering how to donate as well as receive.
First of all, Lucas has two donor moms- let’s call them “A” and “B” (oddly enough, those are their first initials!). I met them on the donor milk programmes’ Facebook pages “Human Milk 4 Human Babies” (“HM4HB”) and “Eats on Feets.”
“B” was the first mom I met, and she had around 300 ounces of pumped breastmilk in the freezer to give me. She had her son just a few days before I had mine! Her son had so many allergies to nearly everything she ate (if she had cut out every food he was allergic to, she might as well have starved!) that she finally decided to make the difficult decision to put him on special hypoallergenic formula.
Shortly after that, I met “A”, whose beautiful daughter was coincidentally born exactly 25 years after I was; she will turn 1 year old on 22 April 2012, as I turn 26 years old! “A” had about 60 ounces in the freezer, which she had pumped in hopes that her daughter may take a bottle or cup one day. She had saved it for a “rainy day” occasion- for example, if “A” had to be in the hospital and couldn’t breastfeed her daughter. However, her daughter wouldn’t take either, and “A” didn’t want the milk to go to waste.
When I first started talking to “B,” I could tell she was upset about having to give her son formula and struggled with this decision like I did. Because neither “Eats on Feets” or “HM4HB” are screened donor milk bank programmes, you shouldn’t have to pay for the milk you receive from donors (and nor should you expect anything in return if you are a donor). However, “B” and I started talking through messages on Facebook, and she asked if I would be okay with a trade- I would buy her hypoallergenic formula, and she would provide the same amount of breastmilk. So basically, for every ounce of formula I bought her, she would provide me with the same amount of breastmilk. Now, I don’t think this is very typical, but I didn’t have a problem with it. “B” was very wary the first time we met, although I had “added” her as a “friend” on Facebook (so she could see that I am really a mom like I say I am)! We met in a parking lot of a store- I brought a large cooler tote with ice in it, and she loaded me up with what she had been able to bring. The second and last time we met, she was okay with meeting me at her home (about 10 minutes away). I think I bought her 4 large cans of hypoallergenic formula in total- about 120$. Pretty expensive, but I felt it was worth it. We haven’t talked much since then, but I figure that is pretty typical of the donor experience. I asked if she was going to continue pumping, but she immediately said no, so I didn’t want to push or ask if she would for Lucas.
“A” is a totally different story- she and I are now friends, and from the first time we talked on Facebook, I felt a connection. She immediately volunteered that she doesn’t drink or smoke or take any medications, but does drink a cup of coffee everyday (which didn’t bother me)- this is so that I would know if there was anything in the breastmilk, and if you are nervous about donor milk, you should feel free to ask any questions. She invited me to come over to her house to pick up the 60 ounces, and I excitedly drove the 20-25 minutes to get to the other side of town. I brought my tote cooler with ice in it. While there, we started talking and I told her briefly about why I had been unable to breastfeed or pump longer. She was very kind and I didn’t hesitate to give her a big hug for blessing Lucas with her milk. Before I left, she offered to pump every so often for Lucas! I was over the moon! I tried asking if I could do anything for her or bring her anything, but she said that wasn’t necessary! (However, I personally believe that if a donor is giving up her “liquid gold” for you by pumping on a regular basis, you should try to do nice things for them. Obviously, you can’t give your donor money, but for example, I buy the breastmilk storage bags, have brought her Starbucks, gave her a 20$ Starbucks giftcard for Christmas… and even those things cannot compare to the gift Lucas is receiving from her!) Now, more recently because her daughter is trying solid foods, she has started pumping for Lucas twice on a daily basis! I go and pick up milk pretty much every week, and it is an awesome blessing. (Oh shoot, it’s making me tear up just writing about it!) And not only that, I am glad to have found a friend in “A,” because I probably wouldn’t have met her if it wasn’t for her responding to my post asking for donor milk. :)
At any rate, if you have any questions for me about receiving or donating breast milk to these two programmes, let me know. I could even pass on questions to “A” if you are confused about something on the donor’s end! These are really great programmes, and I personally don’t think we, as a society, should feel weird about receiving donor breastmilk. As long as you are safe about it, it could end up being a real blessing for both your baby and you!
EDIT: Since writing this at the beginning of February, things have really started looking up! Lucas has been entirely donor milk fed since he was 24 weeks old (he is 32 weeks when I’m writing this update). We have met several new donor moms who have truly blessed my son with their milk. A couple of these mommas are long-distance, meaning we drove 4 hours total to pick up milk from them! Amazingly, Lucas’ donor momma “A” is still pumping once a day for him (about 6 ounces), and her daughter is now a year old! I am so grateful for these awesome women who are not only feeding their children what is natural for babies, but helping me feed my son, as well!