In our educated and socially connected society, us moms can be overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge and opinions from just about everyone (including cousin IT). Sometimes I wish that I would just be better at ignoring all the disjointed opinions, especially over hot button topics, but sometimes they just stick to you a little more than others. Breastfeeding is one of those hot button topics, so before I go any further, I want to make it 100% clear that I am TEAM FEED BABY whichever which way you choose.
My breastfeeding journey began on July 3, 2013, at 12:05 pm when my oldest son was born. My son came out hungry……famished hungry. I had hyperemesis gravidarum with him, so we both were slowly starving because I could not keep any food down. He had been sucking his finger so hard in the womb that it was RAW. I had pictured what the first time breastfeeding would look like. I thought I would be all put back together and sitting rocking in a chair. I felt that it would be a private and intimate event that only my husband and I would witness.
BOY, was I WRONG!!!
Seriously, I was so very wrong. It was super awkward. I mean I am still delivering the placenta, so there is a doctor near what I am sure looked like a bloody massacre. There is a baby nurse that is wiping my child down with towels while on my chest. My husband had just cut the umbilical cord. Who knows if I pooped while delivering our precious son. Then there is my labor and delivery nurse, Andrea. With being a first-time mom, I was actually quite clueless about breastfeeding. Andrea knew that my son was HUNGRY. He was rooting around on my chest immediately. She didn’t miss a step. She grabbed my son’s head in one hand and my breast in the other. In one Olympic gold medal-worthy synchronized movement, she united the two in perfect harmony. SO there I was breastfeeding with blood, probably poop, vomit, and a ton of people. Private and intimate did not exist.
My milk changed from colostrum to milk with a few hours. Everyone seemed very surprised. I was delighted because I knew that I could produce milk and feed my baby. In our educated and highly connected society, I had heard about all the ways to increase milk production or ways to help increase with low supply. I had never heard of OVERPRODUCTION. Within 12 hours, Andrea called for a lactation consult. I was trying to feed our newborn son and was quite literally drowning him in milk. Milk was spraying everywhere, and he was violently throwing up and gagging. That consult came with the knowledge of overproduction. The lactation consultant brought in a pump for me to use to “get some relief.” She also suggested (with a wink) that my husband could always help with the problem. I was instructed in how to use a pump, how to safely store pumped milk, how to pump for relief not to empty, and then most importantly, how to donate extra milk. I was also informed that my body would likely self-regulate within a few weeks.
She was WRONG!
By the time my son was 10 weeks old, I had well over 1,000 ounces of frozen breast milk supply. I fed my son throughout the night, pumped in the middle of the night, and still woke up soaking wet from breast milk. I would wake up before my son’s first morning feeding and pump out over 10 ounces. I needed to relieve pressure before feeding him. Then I would feed him, and after feeding him, I would go back and pump out an additional 20-40 ounces. I produced enough in just the morning session of pumping to feed him all day, or as one doctor said, I should have had triplets. I tried all the tricks to actually dry up some of my milk supply to no avail. I was stuck with chronic overproduction. Most days, I would be able to freeze 50 ounces of breast milk without batting an eye. I embraced my new super ability.
I became SUPER MILKER!!!!!
I knew that I was very blessed to be able to produce in such abundance, so I gave out of my abundance. I did donate some of my milk through the Milk Bank. I did not donate all of it because I took an antidepressant for severe postpartum depression (that will be a different post). The Milk Bank gives milk to NICU babies, so the milk that is donated cannot have any chance that medicine was passed through it. Through some mom’s groups on Facebook, I was connected with other local moms that needed milk to feed their babies. I fed not only my child but other children. One mom that I donated to had a daughter after she had defeated breast cancer with a double mastectomy. I considered that one an absolute privilege. That woman wanted nothing more than to provide breast milk to her child, but cancer sucks and steals so much. This was a way that both she and I got to say F*** cancer!!!.
Seriously, if milk donating or sharing would enable another mother to say F*** you, cancer, would you not want to help?
SUPER MILKER made two additional appearances in October 2014 and March 2016. To my knowledge, I have donated or shared more than three thousand ounces of breast milk, which is roughly 24 GALLONS of milk. My super milker ability would disappear when I got my period back (around six months of age), so I would have enough for my own children to make it to a year and give everything else away. I considered it a blessing to be able to help those women that needed more breastmilk.
Could milk sharing (Human Milk for Human babies) or donating through the local Milk Bank be in your future? I promise you that it is worth it. It is so worth it.