“My cup runneth over!” Or my breasts runneth over and filled my freezer. Something like that. So, I stand holding my 7 month and and stare into my packed freezer of perfectly frozen and “bricked” rows on rows of breast milk, and I count in my head as I place another precisely measured and sealed bag nice and flat to freeze, “everything the freezer light touch is your kingdom little one...” oh wait different kind of story. But, nevertheless there we stood, me feeling proud, her feeling robbed that the noisy machine she made every attempt to unplug stole her milk in the end.
First time around in this EBF rodeo I never made it passed 100 ounces in the fridge at once. 100 though? Good job right? Meh, it’s ok if I’m being honest but babies eat a lot of milk in a day, a lot. My girls in particular never went more than 3 hours without nursing, typical two hours, yes even still at 8 months. So three ounces every two hours for the twelve hours she is awake, 18 oz give or take because when she is taking it from the tapper we don’t really know how much she’s getting exactly. 18oz a day out of 100oz, ain’t gonna last very long. But the intent of the stash was never to deplete it, just to tide her over if I didn’t pump enough for the day during my morning session, or worked late, or a bottle got spilled or went back. But, the best laid plans right? I started rushing home with full breasts begging my husband not to thaw another bag, adding a night pump session that was just drips in hopes of restoring my gold mine, to no avail by the end of the year, I was down to my last bag and ready to take my pump to burning man. I told myself, never again.
New baby new plan. With my second I started pumping earlier and more often and very, very diligently. My body adjusted, my routine were established, my stash grew. Now, I have just over 4 months left and an abundance of breastmilk that risks not being consumed. I reached out to my tribe “how can I help another momma?” They offered up suggestions, and personal testimonials as donors and recipients and my momma heart smiled! I could do this I could bring this joy to another momma!
I sheepishly post my first offer of 100 ounces of the good stuff in a Human Milk 4 Human Babies Page on Facebook. Then I waited, then I panicked “what if no one wants my milk?” “How will I chose who gets my milk?” “Is this even a good offer, is it enough milk?” “Will it really help someone or am I just trying to make myself feel better?” The messages started rolling in and as I chatted with moms I realize I had a criteria that I didn’t know existed. But, oh boy did it exist. Ideal ages, stories, connection, location, just a feeling deep down I needed to feel. What’s the big deal Shauna you want to give it to someone how about the first taker she needs it right? I know right!? I have spent almost 8 months of my life, pumping, measuring, flattening, freezing, labeling, counting, cleaning, time, money, sweat, tears, and LOVE. This is a piece of me literally, I didn’t think I would feel this way I am so not a sap. But, there I was giving mommas the third degree and waiting for the spark like I’m speed dating.
Then there she slide into my DMs. She explained that her 9 month old was eating just more than she produced in a day while she was away. She also explained that she has plenty for a while so don’t feel bad if I don’t choose her, and thanked me for donating. I didn’t cry right then but, I did want to. A few mommas were pushy and some and just weren’t forth coming and I just didn’t feel a connection or relatable to some at all. But THIS momma, shared that with her first she produced enough and was fortunate enough to donate and knows how it feels the first time and that this donation would be enough for her to provide for him until he turned one. My heart swelled and I chose her.
I KNEW that stress of making just not quite enough and watching your stash
slowly deplete just as you think you are about to get ahead. I wanted to take that stress off of her shoulders and help her meet her goal. So I did, she came with her cooler and baby, and I exchanged my full bags of milk for fresh new empty ones from her. I told her baby boy to enjoy the milk and felt the weight lift off of her shoulders, or maybe the old me felt it.
I never really knew anything about donor milk or milk banks or any of it, until now. I honestly don’t know if I would take donor milk if the shoe was on the other foot but maybe, maybe the me who knotted her stomach and counted every last drip as a I pumped sitting on a floor pumping, hunched over my lunch, swiping through pictures and videos of my baby on my phone because that’s supposed to help right. Maybe? But, this time I don’t have to wonder and I am just so filled with joy knowing I could help someone else. ❤️
Lets start at the beginning. First things first. The worst thing about breastfeeding is pumping. It's not latch or chapped nipples or waking up at night to feed. It the damn pump. Attached to you, draining every drop of gold, just for you to spill it on the counter because the baby is crying and you are rushing to transfer it into a bag to store. I HATE pumping, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that found their roll as Bessy enjoyable. But, alas, we are not here today to dream about the moment we can finally set fire to are milk expression machinery. We are here to talk about the holy shit moment when I thought I had been wasting my life pumping and storing over 500 oz for my impending return to work all for...my baby to refuse a bottle. ALL THAT FROZEN MILK Y'ALL. Ready for the thawing. Waiting to nourish my sweet babe while I returned to the world of the living from Mombie land. Don't let this happen to you, don't be like Shauna.
Gather ‘round the teat babes it’s story time.
As you all know I took my stroller for it’s inaugural outing to the zoo.
Things were going pretty smoothly and it was time for the baby to eat so we rolled up into the giraffe house. I felt oddly comfortable nursing coverless among the beasts.
Big girl ran around and shouted things to her bff as they pointed at the giraffes.
My sweet friend thankfully wrangled them both while I nursed.
I packed myself away and got the baby strapped back in, started getting the big one back in the front of the stroller and it happened...
@kamajalundh and her sweet babe exited the building and I thought we would be right behind...but...my toddler decided this was an opportune time to turn her body into linguini.
Linguini can not be strapped into a stroller.
Cue the poor old man who didn’t know what was about to hit him.
“Ma’am do you need some help what can I do should I hold the stroller for you?”
Guys I didn’t mean to but, I was sweating, milk covered, in a heightened state of anxiety in public with two kids.
“No, no I’m fine.”
Would you believe he persisted!? So, I HAD TO, I let him have it.
“SIR I DO NOT NEED HELP THE STROLLER IS LOCKED WE ARE FINE!”
Yes I am well aware I am a mom-ster. But, at that point I had to commit and do it alone. Eventually I got my little Italian carb dish into the stroller. And off we went to the dairy facility (how perfect right?). I started to feel bad for the old man. But, when I got outside and told the story to my girlfriend she said
“What the heck? What does he think you do when he isn’t around?”
I almost pissed my pants. How fucking true is that? Old man how would I get through life without your help? Now, don’t get me wrong yes, sometimes I wish someone would save me when I’m drowning in children. Unfortunately, for that fine gentlemen, on this particular day, I was on a mission with a point to prove and this lady didn’t need no help! Not from him! Maybe from my friend, but not from that strange man judging a hot mess momma.
He didn’t know this was no where close to worst case scenario. I consider that little episode an successful, even easy day. A win for momma. Barely a scene that raised a need for a life vest. It’s ok to not take help too. You know what you can handle, and I knew my girl would be there in a heartbeat with a preserver if the tides rose! But, some people don’t know a monsoon from a sprinkle, everyone’s perception is different.
I hope that poor old man still offers to help someone whose drowning. Just not me. Ha!
So much baby gear so little time! I have researched and researched and asked for advice and bought and sold and switched out baby gear. Here are the five things that I would say helped me through this first 2 months with two under 3! If you would have asked me last time around I know for a fact I would have had different answers I just don't think I every got around to writing that blog! Ok, here we go. Five faves from a second time momma.
I have had a love affair with this pump since my first time nursing. It is powerful, portable (enough), and super simple to use. There are tons of accessories you can get for it to make your life even easier. I has a pretty standard price point for a pump I would say in the $200 range. But, you may be able to get it covered by your insurance, see my blog about that here. I even used it to pump on a road trip with the battery adaptor when we thought it was a good idea to take a 9 month old on a 18 hour car trip. That I do not recommend.
Double the poops double the stink. I had pretty much given up on my diaper genie before my second was born because I was so freakin sick of buying those special bags. How freakin’ annoying! Then I discovered this adapter which is amazing, you can use their 7 layer bags, or ANY bag, yes any bag!!! No more of pressing that last diaper in just to have the bag go flying into the bottom of the pail! Because we’re friends you can use the code SHAUNA30 for 30% off of your order. Boom!
We rotated through all of the brands of swaddles that we had on hand in the first few nights being home with the new baby. This one did the trick and it's super easy to use, no snaps or zippers, you can practically do it with your eyes closed in the middle of the night...
This has been the preferred seat for relaxing and napping for both of my girls. I think that it is at just the right angle and snuggly enough to comfort them, it also has a vibration option. Super simple, easy to clean, light weight to take from room to room. It is also important that it keeps the baby high enough off of the ground so that the dog can't reach her.
I can not say enough about this sling! I am just really wishing I would have used a ring sling the first time around. I have no idea how I would have survived these first two months without it, I think I probably would have never left the house at all! With my oldest I was a little intimidated by baby carriers to be honest I am so glad that I got over that fear, I think you kind of have to wear your second to survive.
I hope this is helpful for you mommas! Of course I could go on and on about baby gear, just feel free to ask!
Shauna Hyler, mommy of two beautiful girls! Working, blogging, and adventuring with the hubby and my sweet girls.