This week, we have Nicole from three31. Nicole is sharing her experiences with service, both through mission work and now through breastmilk donation. I love that this is is the first post in this series because it is something I am also passionate about. My boys received donor breastmilk their second day in the NICU and so it is clearly a cause that is important to me. I also had oversupply with the twins and was able to donate milk myself. I have so much respect for Nicole and the amazing work she is doing!
Nine months ago, I could have never imagined the adventure waiting for me in regards to breastfeeding, pumping exclusively, and donating to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. I prayed our son would latch onto my breast and discover the sustenance my body so beautifully and naturally created for him. My intent was to breast feed as long as possible, with a long-term goal of six months. Today, Kamden is nine months and I am still exclusively pumping. I am also a registered human milk donor and, to date, have donated more than 2,400 ounces. That’s more than 19 gallons of breast milk!
Before Kamden was born (his birth story), I planned to breastfeed as long as my body produced the precious “liquid gold.” Amazingly, just moments after he arrived, and we had skin-to-skin contact, he began sucking. Kamden’s latch was textbook perfect and so began our breastfeeding journey. The thing about Kamden, however, is he’s just like his mommy and daddy: he LOVES to sleep! By the time Kamden was a month old, he was the poster-child for cluster feedings. He would nurse, sleep, and repeat. It was also around this time that I began experimenting with my Medela breast pump to build a frozen milk supply to use after I had surgery to tie my tubes and remove my gallbladder. Once I got the hang of the breast pump and realized my abundant supply and fast let-down, it was just a matter of time before Husband and I introduced a bottle to Kamden. It was messy at first, of course, but he did really well. Something else happened with the bottle … Kamden began sleeping longer between feedings and was less fussy because he was both satisfied and well-rested. It was a win-win for all of us! Now that we know better, Husband and I attribute Kamden’s fussiness to being hungry because he fell asleep at the breast before he was full. With the bottle, we know exactly how much Kamden eats at each feeding and he’s slept through the night (7+ hours) since before he was two months old! Don’t worry, Mommy doesn’t sleep that much because she gets up at least once in the middle of the night to pump!
As chunky as our monkey is, Kamden does not consume every ounce of milk I produce. In reality, I could easily sustain twins since I produce as much as 60 ounces of breast milk in a 24-hour period. With production like this, it’s no wonder Kamden has so many rolls and our deep freezer is full!
Last March, I had the opportunity to donate my wedding dress to the Angel Gowns program, part of the NICU Helping Hands organization. In doing this, I met Natalie, the program’s coordinator and a former NICU mother herself. We talked about her twin babies who were born prematurely and she explained how they received breast milk from donors at the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. I was genuinely interested so as soon as I dropped off my dress, I drove a few blocks to the milk bank to get more information. Less than a week later, after completing a few forms about my general health and eating habits, and a routine blood test, I was approved as a milk donor.
Becoming a milk donor has been one of the most gratifying and rewarding decisions I’ve made. Nine months ago, I didn’t know human milk banks even existed, much less one conveniently located near our home! Even though my contributions are helping critical babies in need, I feel as if I am the one who is more blessed by donating excess milk. One day, I would love to be able to meet a mother or father whose baby received my breast milk during his/her NICU stay. I also look at donating milk as a continuation of my commitment to do mission work for God’s kingdom and representing The United Methodist Church. In 2010, I participated in my first mission trip. In the last four years, I’ve completed projects and service work in Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, and Appalachia Kentucky. My passion and heart, however, is in international mission work, specifically Haiti. I’ve been to Haiti twice (2011 and 2012) to aide in clean-up efforts and the construction of a Methodist school in Port-au-Prince, near the 2010 earthquake epicenter, and the rebuilding of a Methodist church in Leveque, a coastal community along the North-South highway. I was scheduled to return to Haiti for my third mission trip in as many years, but I had to cancel due to being pregnant with Kamden. When life gives you lemons, in the form of a cancelled trip, you make lemonade, or see the silver lining in your situation! Until I am able to resume international mission work again, my call to service is closer to home. In a way, my mission in 2014, besides raising our healthy baby boy, is to provide as much milk as possible to the milk bank. As of September 30, I have donated more than 2,400 ounces. That’s more than 19 gallons of milk!
As an exclusive pumper and milk donor, I know firsthand the importance of a positive support network. I talk to mothers every day who are dealing with supply issues, pain associated with baby’s latch or the breast pump, or lack the support at home from family or medical professionals. I am fortunate to have an amazing group of people around me. I truly believe it takes a village to successfully breastfeed or pump. My support system includes Husband and Kamden, our family and friends, my obstetrician and Kamden’s pediatrician, several lactation consultants, and the entire staff at the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. I could not be as successful without each and every one of these folks, especially Simone (the milk bank's outreach director) who's smitten with Kamden!
When this journey began, I made a long-term goal to breastfeed (or pump) Kamden until he was six months old. Now that he is nine months, I have reset my goal to one year with plans to donate as much milk as I possibly can. Since Kamden is (and will always be) an only child, I want to make the most of this experience as a new mom, exclusive pumper, and human milk donor … and I think it’s going exceptionally well!
Thank you so much Nocole! I am so impressed that she has already donated over 19 gallons and I still going! Don't forget to click through to Nicole's blog to read more about her adventures as mom to Kamden and join in her weekly linkup series, Finish This.
Next week, y'all will be hearing from a fellow twin mom who is passionate about running and fitness. I wish I could say I share her passion. I want to be a person who enjoys exercise (and who is capable of losing the baby weight). Maybe the post will inspire me!
Do you have something you are passionate about? A hobby? A cause? A topic? Crazy Cass Life is now accepting submissions and would love to hear from you email@example.com
P.S. The Say "Ah" Kinsa Smart Thermometer Giveaway is closed. Don't forget to check back tomorrow and find out if you won!