You Are Gold — A Letter To My Son’s Milk Donor

Dear Allison,

Thank you for giving my son life.

ThrivingOnDonorMilk

My unlikely squishy baby.

I don’t want to get crazy on you here, but let me be totally transparent: I can’t imagine what my family would look like without that liquid gold.  Your gold.  Your life-force alchemy.

Thank you.

I know what it’s like to hook yourself up to a pump every day, mulitple times a day, for months on end.  Extracting that milk, creating extra steps, extra dishes, extra work while engaging in the most extra energy exerting time of your life with a newborn clutched to one breast as the pump cranks on the other.  You never even hinted at the burden I knew it was for you. You handled it with an elegant grace I unreservedly admire.

Last year, I found myself stuck in a nightmare with my eight month old son. My sweet baby had severe food allergies (here’s what I want you to know about FPIES), and needed more milk than I could produce.  My breasts, the ones that were meant to feed him, began to fail us both.  Even after all of the nutrition and support and finally pharmaceutical medication, I could not raise my milk supply to keep up with his demand.  Exclusive pumping, unimaginable stress, sick baby, hormone shifts, whatever.  You name it, it contributed to the decrease in my milk.

Formula was a risky option for my son, even the expensive elemental ones that work for 99.9% of infants with food allergies.  We had no guarantee my son’s compromised system could tolerate the pre-digested proteins, as many other babies with his syndrome are unable to. I prayed. I researched. I lit candles and called formula companies and looked into every conceivable way to feed my son that did not require actual food.

LastDonorBottle

My son’s last bottle of Allison’s donor milk from Texas.

And then my phone rang and you were on the line, understanding with your medical knowledge and feeling it all with your tender heart, and asked if you could give my son your milk.

I cried.  With my back literally against the wall, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, muffling my relieved sobs, I accepted your gift with the undeniable knowledge there was no way I could ever pay this gift forward, much less pay you back. With a newborn baby who needed your milk and a toddler who needed your attention, a full-time job and active community involvement, you offered to close the gap for us.  You added one more thing to your very full plate and you did it with grace and strength and love.

Every few weeks, a box would arrive, overnighted from Texas to Oregon, dry ice all but disintegrated in a custom styrofoam cooler. (One of many coolers you recruited your friends to save for you to ship your milk to us.)  You pumped your milk, froze it, picked up the cooler from your friend, loaded it all into your car, bought dry ice, carefully constructed the layers of dry ice and newspaper and milk inside the cooler, put that cooler in a box and took it to the shipping place with a hope and a prayer that all your hard work and irreplaceable milk would travel 2,000 miles and still be frozen when it arrived.  You, who had a million and one things to do, found time and capacity to do one more (hard) thing.  And you never complained.

I followed a strict elimination diet, and at one point I could only safely eat 11 foods without causing my son’s gut to bleed and his weight to drop.  You altered your diet, too.  You ate the same tiny list of foods because you loved my son that much.  You restricted your menu and dilligently read every label and questioned every ingredient before eating a single bite in order to keep my son safe. You were full of encouraging words and creatively figured out what to eat when you couldn’t really eat anything and shared your food hacks with me.

Last summer, after seven months of pumping and freezing and shipping, you called me in tears.  Your milk was almost gone, drying up to barely a trickle.  I cried, too. I offered to send back what milk I had left in my freezer for your daughter.  The milk belonged to her. YOU are HER mama.  That milk was made for her. I was adamant.

You said no.

Unbeknownst to me, you had already tried other supplemental options and she responded well. “My baby is healthy. We can still nurse. And two more weeks of freezer milk will buy you time to find another way.”  And you were right.  We found another way.  Another donor, (your sister). And another donor after that, (my best friend). And eventually, another supplementation my son’s body accepted.

You gave my son seven months of milk.  Seven months to heal and thrive without taxing his little body even more.  Seven months of weight gain. Seven months of knowing he had all the milk he needed and more.  You gave me seven months of relief knowing my son would not just live, but he would thrive. Seven months of a little more sleep, a little less stress. Seven months of hope.
Donors

Three of my closest friends, years before we had babies, on the night before my wedding. Each of them gave their milk to my son. Allison, the woman in green, was our main donor.

I know our friendship is life-long and this donor bond goes deeper than words can express.  But I also know you.  You with your elegant grace, generous heart, deep well of love, creative time and resource management, and desire to change the world in your strong, quietly fierce way.  I know you.
And I know you would have done this for anyone.
You, my alchemist soul sister, are pure gold.
With love and gratitude,
C
P.S. ~ My son received milk from a total of six different women over the course of 14 months, all of whom I want to acknowledge and thank from the depths of my mama soul:
  • Two friends in Texas (including his main donor, Allison)
  • One visiting friend from England (and sister to Allison)
  • My BFF who supplied milk for several months after our main donor could not continue.
  • My midwife who learned she was pregnant about an hour before my son was born and donated her baby’s colostrum.
  • A friend of a friend I met only once, but for whom I feel much gratitude.
 _________________________________________________________________________If you like this post, check out How Jimmy Fallon Saved My Morning Milk and I Am A Sh*tty Friend over on our sister site, Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
 
Share

Pump Like a Pro – Add a Session

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

 

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

 

If you’re looking to boost your supply, consider hitting the ground running (so to speak) first thing in the morning.  Lots of moms find that a little early morning pumping can have a BIG impact on supply.  It’ll take your body a bit of time to get used to the increased demand, but you’ll be seeing the benefits before you know it. 

Of course, as any sleep-deprived mama can tell you, swapping precious minutes of shut-eye to sneak in an extra pumping session doesn’t always sound like the best deal.  The good news is that you just might find that starting your day off pumping puts you in a much happier and well-balanced frame of mind than the typical morning routine. 

Want to do yourself one better?  Turn that early-a.m. pumping routine into a personal ritual that just might become one of the peaceful highlights of your day.  Take your pumping time and turn it into something more…think morning beverage and maybe a little quiet reading time or web scrolling.  We hope you enjoy your new morning routine!

(And keep in mind that PumpEase is one way to get even more out of any pumping session.  Take your bliss to another level by pumping hands free!)

Add a Session
To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase

 

Breast pump
Share

Pump Like a Pro – Bring on the Dirty Clothes

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

 

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

 

There’s nothing quite like that indescribable mini-rush you get from catching a deep whiff of baby smell.  Well it turns out that unlike the stuff they spray inside of new cars, new baby smell has a serious purpose — a biological one!

Picking up on your baby’s unique smell can actually help you let down and get that mama milk flowing.  It’s all part of the biological response mechanisms that have been ingrained in us to help make this whole breastfeeding thing work.  But what happens when it’s time to fire up the pump but your little one isn’t close by?

Trick yourself!  (Or at least trick your boobs.)

Take a deep whiff of some recently-worn baby clothing for a similar letdown response to the one you get from soaking in your baby directly.  You may also notice an accompanying feeling of general peace and relaxation, which isn’t too shabby in the middle of a long day either.

Toss a gently worn onsie or other article of baby’s clothing in with your pump supplies and always have it handy.  Rotate the item from time to time to keep that new baby smell nice and fresh!

baby smell, baby clothes, breastmilk pumping, breast pump,
To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase

 

Breast pump
Share

Pump Like a Pro – Double Your Parts

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

 

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

 

You’ll be amazed at how much stress you can eliminate from your pumping routine just by making sure you have all those various supplies and accessories in order. Investing in a full set of extra pump parts — tubes, flanges, bottle, valves — can make all the difference as you work pumping into your day.

Two sets mean that when one is dirty, the other is ready to go. It also means that if you pump in more than one location (like maybe at home and at the office) you can leave one set in each spot and just transport the pump itself back and forth.

It’s amazing how small favors like having an extra set of pumping gear on hand right where you need it can turn a frustrating escapade into a piece of cake. (Just ask any mom who’s been up the creek without her pump flanges and had to miss a session!)

We love our Snugabell wet bags for keeping all your bits and pieces organized because they’re functional, stylish and a piece of cake to toss in the wash when you need to. We also recommend bringing an extra PumpEase into the mix as well. Give it a try and we’re sure you’ll agree!

 pumping-pro-tip6

To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase

 

Breast pump
Share

Pump Like a Pro – Double Up

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

 

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

 

Have you heard moms complain that they just don’t let down for the pump? Or they do, but they don’t get as much milk as they think they should?

These are pretty common complaints! Never fear, we’ve got you covered.

First, if your instinct tells you that there’s something bigger at play, connect with someone trained in breastfeeding support. (This starts at the grassroots with organizations like Breastfeeding USA and La Leche League, which offer trained volunteer peer counselors, then escalates to moderately trained pros like CLCs, CLEs, etc-, and the very best, top-notch support you can get comes from an IBCLC. Asking your OB, midwife, or any other provider may leave you with dated or incorrect info, so try and connect with someone who’s got breastfeeding-specific training.)

Next…if you feel like you’re doing ok with breastfeeding in general, but you’re just not getting along with your pump, you’ve got options! Check out our other tips – there are LOTS of ways to get into a good pumpin’ groove. One of the BEST ways to help your body let-down for the pump and (sometimes!) yield a little more milk is to pump on one side while your baby nurses on the other. Your baby will work that sweet suckling magic that gets your letdown going, which will carry over to the pump side. Tandem pumping and nursing is a great time to do a visualization (like we described here), so that you can repeat the same visualization and experience those same cues when your baby isn’t present and you’re pumping on both sides.

You’ve got all the benefits of the baby at the breast, AND your body is learning to get along with your pump. Win-win!

 

Pumping Pro Tip 5

To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase

 

Breast pump
Share

Pump Like a Pro- Get Hands On

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

 

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

 

Getting hands ON (even with a hands-free pumping bra)

Okay, Pumpin’ Mamas. You know better than most just how valuable every last drop of your milk really is. Sure…maybe when your baby nurses at the breast that little bundle of joy thinks no drop is being left behind, but nobody knows better than a mom eyeballing a pump bottle just how much is making it to daylight.

We all know what it’s like to watch that milk level rise and try to rally those last few splashes of the good stuff before calling it a session. But did you know that you can lend yourself a hand and score a bit more of that precious milk?

One of the many bonuses of pumping hands free is that you can easily and effectively do simple breast compressions to help you eke out just a bit more each session. You’ll find that it’s much easier to do when you aren’t simultaneously holding flanges in place (but of course it’s entirely possible to do compressions with or without a hands-free bra).

Give it a try and see for yourself just how far a few extra squeezes can go!

This video gives an excellent demonstration.

PMPT4_Get_Hands_On

To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase
Breast pump
Share

Pump Like a Pro- Visualize

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

Have you heard of elite sports teams using visualizations in their training? They will gather together, but instead of actually doing a workout or physically training, they will sit together and visualize their event: they think of the venue, their opponent, and they move through each and every step of the event, from prep to (hopefully) winning.

Pumpin’ mamas can take a tip from this training tactic. It’s used in elite training for a reason: it works! If you’re having a hard time letting down for the pump, it’s time to settle down and look inward. Count backwards from 20 and center yourself. As you count, continually focus more on the numbers and forget the physical space you’re in; forget the pump; forget the bottles. Just breathe in and out and get to zero.

When you get to zero, think of your sweet baby. Think of a nursing session that went particularly well – a specific session. Remember the details and walk yourself through it. Mentally settle yourself wherever you were. Think of holding your baby, getting comfortable in your seat, and positioning the baby to latch. Remember the details of the latch: how was baby positioned? Were her eyes open? Was she cooing? Remember those first quick, shallow sucks and the seemingly magical way your baby knew exactly what to do for your milk to let down. Remember how it felt when your milk let down and those quick sucks turned to long, deep suckles and periodic swallows. Remember how you and your baby both relaxed through the rest of the feeding. Think of the scent of your baby and the way he feels snuggled up with you, cozy to your body.

When  you’re done “nursing” your baby through this visualization, then you can look down and see what the bottles have collected. You may be surprised at how much milk came out while you were mentally with your babe!

PMPT3_Visualize
To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase
Breast pump

_________________

 

Share

The Dairy Fairy Arden and Rose Nursing/Pumping Bras for Curvy Moms!

 We’re so pleased to share with you the exciting news that The Dairy Fairy has now added a full figured nursing and handsfree pumping Rose and Arden bras! You can see The Leaky Boob reviews of The Dairy Fairy and you can enter to win one of your own. Designed to support the ever-changing lactating breast and securely accommodate handsfree pumping, The Dairy Fairy bras and tanks are well made, comfortable, and stylish. Using high quality materials, their bras provide surprisingly comfortable support and adjustability to meet each woman’s unique needs with a customizable fit. We love The Dairy Fairy and we’re confident you will too!

TDF011314_postcard-6inx6in-front

_________________

The Dairy Fairy is giving away two hands-free pumping bras for curvy moms to 2 lucky Leakies (one bra per winner).

Now full figured mamas can pump in style too. Thanks to these two styles, sexy support that helps pump efficiently is available up to size 44J. And since there is no under-wire, the support is similar to that of a sports bra.

Arden is a beautiful all-in-one bra that lets you nurse, double hands-free pump, or simultaneously nurse and pump. (Retail Value $68)

Rose is a beautiful and feminine bra so you can quickly and efficiently pump, and maybe even have a second to check emails. (Retail Value $34)

Total Retail Value: $102

Visit www.thedairyfairy.com for more information

_________________

Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from June 25, 2015 through July 1, 2015.  A big thanks to The Dairy Fairy for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Emily on their Facebook page for their show of support! You can also follow The Dairy Fairy on Twitter and Instagram: username @the_dairyfairy

This giveaway is open to participants in the USA and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share

Pump Like a Pro- Look At Your Baby

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page  for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell. Be sure to check out their special at the end of this article.

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

Have you ever heard a newborn cry as you walked through the grocery store alone…and suddenly felt your milk let-down? Your body doesn’t care if the cries come from your own baby or someone else’s, it’s got milk and it hears a baby in need. Lac-tivate the milk ducts! Nevermind that the baby you heard is three aisles over and now your shirt has two distinct wet spots front-and-center. (It gets better with time, but even moms who’ve been nursing for years report the occasional “HAVE MILK, WILL FEED BABY” response to baby cries overheard in public.)
Those baby cries are pretty powerful. Baby coos, too! That’s why bringing a photo (or better yet, video) with you when you pump is a great plan. Sweet little videos of your baby smiling, cooing, or nursing will help set your mood and mindset for pumping (and pull the same biological strings that the baby in aisle three). Sit down, take a deep breath, and think of your sweet little bundle. Get out that pic or video and think of the delicious baby scent as you relax and watch. Your body will be primed to let-down and give up the liquid gold goods! Close your eyes and mentally walk through breastfeeding: think of holding your baby and the wave of peace when cries are replaced with suckling that transitions to milk-drunk, sleepy satisfaction.That video may seem like a handy tool as you pump today, but it’s so much more. Having a few pics of your baby at the breast or a video of a nursing session will be priceless once this phase ends and the next begins. For now, though, hit those horns (pump horns, that is) with all you’ve got: relax, do some guided imagery, and use a photo or a video to reconnect with your baby as you pump. It might just help get the milk flowing, and it certainly never hurts to take a minute to bask in your little bundle.

Hands-free-pumping bra breastmilk breastfeeding

To celebrate their SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Snugabell is sending PumpEase customers one of their fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details hereThe PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms. Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase
Breast pump

_________________

 

Share

Pump Like a Pro – Washing Pump Parts

by Wendy Bell, CLE
Editor’s note: Be sure to check out the free wet bag special Snugabell has going on and you don’t want to miss the giveaway for Leakies at the end!

Breast pumping tips Snugabell PumpEase

Ask a Pumpin’ Mama and she’ll probably tell you how much space it takes up when you lay out a whole array of pump parts — bottles, lids and flanges — on the kitchen counter.  We all want to make sure everything stays clean and safe for our babies, but how much cleaning is enough? Let Snugabell help you pump like a pro!

Save the suds for the end of the day.  Especially if you’re at work all day or pumping multiple times, washing up after every use can turn into a drag pretty quickly.  Lucky for us, a quick rinse before storing in the fridge in between sessions is more than enough to keep everything clean and ready to go.  A good wash with hot, soapy water at the end of the day is all you need.

Don’t fret about sterilizing everything.  Unless your baby is brand new or has compromised immunity, a thorough washing with hot, soapy water should be all your pump parts require.  In fact, more severe cleaning — like boiling, for example — can even compromise and damage the plastic.  No need!

Pump like a pro with Snugabell PumpEase breast pumping tip for breastfeeding moms

Use a wet bag.  Whether you’re pumping at work during the day or just need a place to drop your wet pump parts between sessions at home, it’s hugely helpful to have a waterproof washable bag to get everything from point A to point B.  You won’t want those rogue milk droplets accumulating on the sofa cushion any more than you want them soaking into the nooks and crannies of your pump bag.  Solve the problem with a couple of handy, machine-washable wet bags to catch all your gear.

Speaking of wet bags, Snugabell is giving away a whole bunch of them right now!  To celebrate our SUPER exciting collaboration with Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, we’re sending PumpEase customers one of our fabulous Wet Bag absolutely FREE.  Details here!

Breast pump

_________________

Snugabell is giving away two PumpEase hands-free pumping bras with matching wet bags to 2 lucky Leakies.

Total Retail Value: $106

The PumpEase design will securely hold your pump in place and is guaranteed to accommodate any breast pump on the market. The PumpEase bra like the one shown above makes multi-tasking a breeze for busy moms.

Visit www.snugabell.com for more information about PumpEase

_________________

Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from June 5, 2015 through June 12, 2015.  A big thanks to Snugabell for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank Snugabell on their Facebook page for their show of support! You can also follow Snugabell on Twitter and Instagram: username @snugabell

This giveaway is open to participants in the USA and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share