“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. ❤️
Shauna Hyler, mommy of two beautiful girls! Working, blogging, and adventuring with the hubby and my sweet girls.