Tag Archives: breastmilk

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!!!!

Looking For Breast Milk Donations For My Daughter

4 Sep

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EDIT! I have received an AMAZING flood of responses from mommies literally worldwide offering love, support, prayers and resources! 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. 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!!!!

This is somewhat urgent. My friends freezer that contained my entire stash of donor breast milk was somehow unplugged and all of the milk has been spoiled. I am currently looking for breast milk donations for my daughter Tessa, who is due sometime in the next week or two.

I was born with tuberous breasts hypoplasia. The condition 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.

As many of you know, this is my first child. I always planned to provide breast milk for my daughter via donors. With my history of asthma and allergies I knew breast would most certainly be best for Tessa. I planned to procure breast milk and feed her with the Lact-Aid nurser. Around the second trimester I began seeking breast milk donors and was lucky enough to find a sweet gal who donated on a weekly basis for MONTHS… even including the first weeks colostrum heavy milk from her newborn son. I moved to Pensacola, Florida from Hanford, California a few weeks ago to join my husband as he attends A School in the Navy.

The plan was to have my friend (who was storing the milk in her deep freezer) overnight the milk to me. I just learned today that the freezer somehow unplugged and that all of the milk is completely spoiled. I currently have no breast milk for my daughter. I’m devastated. And I am back to looking for donors.

I’m a bit frantic. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been crying like a baby all day long. Since we still don’t have internet in the new apartment I’m writing this from a Starbucks and crying at my laptop in public like a freak. I hate feeling so helpless, so inadequate, so unable to provide food for my baby. Knowing how important the nutrients breast milk provides is, I feel sick that I cannot produce this for my daughter, myself.

And I hate asking people for donations. As I said in a previous blog post – I don’t know how to go about broaching the subject to people who might be able to help. And I certainly didn’t 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 get ashamed, embarrassed and defensive all at once and then feel awkward and bumbling when it comes to asking for help or resources.

Anyway. I’m looking for donations. If anyone can help, please let me know. You can e-mail me at gingifreeman@gmail.com

I’m about to make the rounds online, trying to locate generous moms in the area that might be able to feed my little girl. Please keep me and Tessa in your prayers?

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!!