Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Two Months of Breast Milk for Baby Tessa!

5 Nov

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Baby Tessa is two months old today! She weighed in at 10.5 pounds and is 22 inches long. (She was 7.3 and 20 inches at birth!) Where is the time going?! She is growing up so fast!! Tell me time will slow down… it will slow down again right? Right?!

I am so so SO happy to report that in the past two months, Tessa has been 100% exclusively on breast milk. She has not had a drop of formula. At the moment our deep freezer is filled to the brim with donor milk, and amazing mommies keep reaching out to us offering more, so it looks like my “unrealistic” goal of having Tessa breast fed till she is weaned may not be so unrealistic after all! God is so good!

As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot produce ANY breast milk (I had all of my breast tissue removed as a teenager from a condition called tuberous breast hypoplasia) and I grew up knowing that I would one day turn to the kindness of strangers to provide the healthy milk that my daughter needed. Breast truly is best, and I never, ever wanted my shortcomings to impact my daughter in any way. For over a decade before becoming a mommy I planned on turning to donors for milk, but I doubted that I would find someone (let alone many someones) that would meet this need.

Boy was I wrong! Through every step of my journey into motherhood, I have not walked alone when it comes to providing food for my daughter. From my first regular donor, to the many moms that came to my rescue when the freezer storing my milk blew out, to all of the amazing donors that are currently blessing my little girl with nutritious food, good health, and motherly love!

And this milk is undeniably making a difference! Tessa started to get the beginnings of a cold last week. She was getting slightly congested at night, and two mornings in a row I suctioned out huge bright to dark green boogers from her tiny little nostrils. (In infants I’m told, green usually means infection. How such big boogers can come from such a tiny nose, I’ll never know.) Right when I started to worry over her impending cold, it just went away on it’s own. Before it reached a stage of interfering with her sleep, or dehydrating her, or causing fever, it just vanished. At her two month check-up, my pediatrician commented, “It’s most likely because she’s breast fed. Breast fed babies usually resolve colds on their own.”

Just one drop of breast milk contains around one million white blood cells. And these cells, (called macrophages) kill harmful germs and bacteria that cause illness in infants. Breast milk is also power packed with immunoglobulin A (IgA), which coats the lining of babies immature intestines, preventing germs from leaking through. This results in less illness overall, and mild, short-lived colds when they do strike. And that’s not even touching on the protections against allergens and asthma, the perfectly balanced nutrition and so on and so on and so on.

So when I say I am grateful for EVERY SINGLE DROP of milk gifted to my daughter – I mean that literally!

I am really, truly, completely and thoroughly thankful to everyone who has given of themselves… often pumping in the wee hours of the night. Every single bag I pull out of my deep freezer, I note the date and the time, and my heart swells with joy for the mother that had the strength and the forethought to not only feed her little one, but to prepare a bag for a mommy that can’t make her own.

I know I’m only two months into motherhood, but in this short time I’ve come to realize – Being a mother is THE HIGHEST CALLING. There is no greater single thing a woman can do in her lifetime than provide for, love and protect the little lives entrusted to her care. So to the mothers who have provided for their own, and then reached out to extend love to other children in need…. You are truly amazing. And you are making a difference in the life of my little girl.

I cannot thank you enough. God bless!

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A five day old Tessa drinking donor colostrum through the Lact-Aid Nurser.

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Breast Milk Donations for Baby Tessa!!

5 Sep

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I just updated my last blog post with this little blurb, but this warrants a whole new blog post / praise report:

I have received an AMAZING flood of responses from mommies literally worldwide offering love, support, prayers and resources in my quest for breast milk for Tessa! My blog post asking for donations got over 17,000 views in just 24 hours!!!! Friends and family back home in California are hard at work gathering / sending me a shipment of milk and I’ve also had a huge number of local Pensacola mommies offering milk donations and networking options to get me the milk I need for Tessa.

I picked up my first little batch of milk today from a sweet gal on the Navy base. And I was able to attend a Pensacola Le Leche League meeting this morning and met a ton of sweet moms who reached out to me on Wednesday during my frantic milk search. I’ve gone from feeling alone and friendless in a new place, to feeling welcomed with open am by an amazing community of breast feeding and crunchy moms that are treating me like family. It’s overwhelming! I don’t even know what to say!

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS REACHED OUT!!! I knew it before, but it’s undeniable now… breastfeeding mommies ROCK! As I’ve said in a previous post, it just floors me that this unborn baby that means the world to me, has other mommies out there who are caring for and looking out for her too! I’m beginning to realize what it means when people say that “things feel different once you’re a mother”. All these e-mails, calls, texts, messages and donations are not just an act of generosity to me, they are an act of kindness toward my DAUGHTER. I don’t know how to begin to thank all of you!

I haven’t been able to respond to too many people on my phone (my service has been so sketchy!) but I am finally back to the local Starbucks for Internet access (these guys must love me) so I will be getting to work responding to the messages I’ve received. THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE!! YOU HAVE BLESSED ME MORE THAN WORDS CAN EXPRESS!!!!

Le Leche League Meetings and the Lact-Aid Nursing Trainer

13 Jul

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I attended my first Le Leche League meeting this past Tuesday in Hanford, California. I was a little hesitant to go, because I was pretty sure I’d be the only mom there with non-operable boobs. But I was determined to attend and break through my discomfort because in just two months there’s going to be a tiny human being trying to get nourishment from me, and I need to know how to go about getting milk into her. Any and all support I can get in this venture is greatly appreciated. So I dragged my mom along to the meeting and made sure my friend Bree would be attending – as a breastfeeding mom of four, she has been to a meeting or two!

When I arrived, I was surprised to see a number of gals from the Natural Parenting for Non-Hippies and the Visalia Birth Network groups. It looks like the people reaching out to other mommas in the Central Valley tend to run in the same circles. I was able to introduce myself and share my story, and then I sat through a very informal, informative and largely irrelevant (to me) meeting on the intricacies of breastfeeding. The meeting was more of a “Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you” and less of a getting all of my questions answered, but I feel a little bit more comfortable coming to the next meeting and asking specific questions.

Since I am unable to produce milk and will be feeding Tessa solely on donor milk, I am left with few feeding options. Option 1: All bottles all the way. Option 2: Nursing aids / at the breast supplementers. I’m trying to opt for number 2, with number 1 being reserved for special daddy and baby bonding / feeding times.

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Because I was dragging my feet on researching the best feeding methods for Tessa, and whether I should opt for the SNS or the Lact-Aid, my mom made up my mind for me a couple weeks ago and bought me a Lact-Aid Nursing Trainer System that I’m going to try to use for the bulk of Tessa’s feeding times. From what everyone tells me, this was the best choice to make. For the sake of expediency, here are the facts on the Lact-Aid from their website:

“Lact-Aid Nursing Trainer System is a tube feeding system created to aid breastfeeding by supplementing Baby at the breast while nursing. Basically, it consists of a container to hold supplemental liquid. A nursing tube reaches from the container to the nipple of the breast. Baby suckles the breast nipple and tube together.

It assures adequate nutrition & helps maintain or re-establish the special bond of breastfeeding!

It trains & stimulates baby’s nutritive suckling reflexes…for improved coordination & skill.

It avoids overtiring Baby & is often prescribed for oral physical therapy!”

I’ve been so woefully underprepared for this whole “being a parent” thing, that I didn’t crack open the Lact-Aid kit till I was AT the Le Leche League meeting. But all this talk of booby milk and suckling and whatnot has got me in the mood to get my act together and finalize my research on the topic of nursing and bottle feeding my baby girl. I have two months left! It’s crunch time!

Since I’m stuck reading instructions and staring at strange objects in a box, I can’t personally comment on the Lact-Aid just yet. But for those of you interested in the topic, here is a fantastically thorough blog post with personal opinions, experiences, and a video tutorial on the Lact-Aid at Doul-la-la: Lact-Aid Demo: In which I take one for the team and bare it all for the greater good.

And here is another really great blog post with a breakdown of how to use the Lact-Aid, along with various tips and tricks for use, storage, cleaning and so on from Padded Tush Stats: Using a Lact-Aid System for Low Milk Supply.

If you have used the Lact-Aid System, I would love to hear from you! I have yet to start out on my breastfeeding journey, and I am aching for personal stories, tips and advice!

The Gift of Breast Milk For A Mommy That Can’t Make Her Own

21 May

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I was so excited to take photos of supermom Mikaela and her beautiful family in downtown Lemoore on Sunday. The breastfeeding photos on this post are all Mikaela and her newborn son. I love taking breastfeeding photos! And I especially loved taking these ones because Mikaela is not just a new friend, but a lifesaver to me in my journey into motherhood. Let me give some history:

I was born with a congenital abnormality called tuberous breasts hypoplasia. The condition alone affects the ability of women to breastfeed because the milk glands usually do not develop enough to produce breast milk. After finding various (thankfully noncancerous) lumps in my breasts as a teenager, my doctor decided to remove them, and in the process perform reconstructive plastic surgery. Due to the hypoplasia in my breasts, I had excess fibrosis connective tissue, and so as the lumps were being removed via free nipple graft, they had to take far more tissue than at first anticipated. I ended up receiving a partial mastectomy, which removed my milk glands and damaged the nerves around my areola – sealing the deal that I would never be able to produce breast milk and breastfeed in the future.

I am, and always have been, a firm supporter of breast feeding. I know how important breast milk is to a growing baby. And so I’ve always known that I would do my absolute best to procure this invaluable source of nutrition for my future baby. But it was always something I didn’t have to think about. It was in the elusive future. It didn’t seem like that big of a hurdle to overcome.

Now, I’m pregnant. My child needs boobie foods. And I have mere months to figure out how to procure some. Suddenly, this “tiny problem” seems enormous.

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I did not know how to go about broaching the subject to people who might be able to help. “Hey there, I see you have some pretty luscious titties. They got any spare boobie juice I might have?” And I certainly did not anticipate how painful inadvertent questions, suggestions or inquiries would be on the topic of breastfeeding. “Are you planning to breastfeed?” “You really should consider breastfeeding, it’s so important for a baby.” “How long do you plan to breastfeed?” “Have you produced any milk yet?” I would get ashamed, embarrassed and defensive all at once and would brush the subject off so quickly that any potential segue into asking for help or resources would be lost.

I didn’t expect to feel so helpless, frustrated and inadequate. What kind of mother am I if I can’t even feed my baby? I basically had two options when it came to finding food for my Tessa.

1)      Informal milk donation, mother to mother. This is when a mother donates her excess breast milk directly to a mother that will be feeding her baby with it.

2)      Purchasing milk, from a mother or a milk bank. Milk bank purchases require a prescription, the milk is usually pasteurized (which strips it of valuable nutrients) and costs roughly $3.50 an ounce. Purchasing milk from a mother is also pretty costly, running around the $2-3 per ounce mark.

While we’re willing to pay what we must to give our baby the best, the burden of $3+ an ounce is one that’s, quite frankly, out of our price range as new parents undergoing major life changes career and location-wise. Maybe for the first month, but for the first year? The cost is staggering, overwhelming. And then I’m back to feeling like an incompetent mother who can’t provide, before Tessa has even been born.

So my only option was to find a donor. And while I know some women like to donate to cancer patients or those with full mastectomies, I didn’t think I had a compelling enough story.

While discussing this issue with Emily of Joyful Abode – another amazing supermom I am blessed to know – she offered to keep her eyes open in her network of super mommies for a donor for me. I thought it was a sweet gesture, but in an uncharacteristic bout of pessimism I just smiled and nodded, thinking I’d end up spending a small fortune for a fraction of my baby’s essential newborn nutrition.

The very next day, I received a text from Mikaela. Mikaela is a Navy mom of two beautiful boys, who was looking for a mother to donate her breast milk to, and Emily had referred her to me. She asked if I’d like to have her milk, including the colostrum heavy first week milk she saved from her sons birth.

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And just like that, my sweet, precious, princess Tessa has her breast milk. This unborn baby that means the world to me, has other mommies out there who are caring for and looking out for her too! When I first met Mikaela at a local Starbucks for the first milk pickup, I had to stop myself from crying and fawning all over her in appreciation. I think this was one of my first moments of realization that “things feel different once you’re a mother”. This wasn’t just an act of generosity to me, it was an act of kindness toward my DAUGHTER.

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The gift of breast milk for a newborn that would otherwise have none, is a gift that positively effects a child for life. Breast milk fed babies are proven to experience:

– Lower incidence of certain viruses

– Lower incidence of respiratory illness

– Reduction in ear infections, meningitis

– A 20 percent lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and 1 year

– A natural buildup of protections against many forms of illness

– Potential protection from developing allergies

– An increase in cognitive development (greater intelligence)

– A lower incidence of obesity as a teen or adult

Breast milk donation truly is one of the most beautiful, pure, and selfless acts a mother could do for another.

To all mothers who have taken the selfless act of sharing good health and life-giving nutrition to a child other than your own, and relieved a fellow mother of the self-esteem destroying burden of being unable to produce milk for her child – you are amazing. THANK YOU and God Bless!!