by Lilyon July 27,2012 in BreastfeedingHealth and WellnessNatural Parenting StyleUncategorized

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would breastfeed. My mother had breastfed me, and my husband’s mother breastfed him. I knew of the benefits, and more importantly, I knew it was the natural choice. I was all for natural “attachment parenting”- I wanted to give birth all naturally, cloth diaper, babywear, leave my son intact, and generally give my son the best start in life. I didn’t buy bottles, and since I was going to be a stay-at-home mom, I laughed at the idea of dropping $200 on a breast pump. Of course, parenting is not as simple as we anticipate. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball, as I found out. Although I was able to give birth to my son Lucas all-naturally on September 15, 2011 with the help of my amazing doula, I immediately began struggling with breastfeeding. After 3 weeks of nursing exclusively (through bloodied nipples and nonstop tears/meltdowns), another 3.5 weeks of pumping exclusively (still painful), and countless tries to remedy the pain I was feeling, my doula and I came to the conclusion that I had Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipples. Even though I had dealt with this condition in my hands and feet for all my life, I was still shocked that it could affect my breastfeeding relationship. And on top of all this, I was struggling with severe postpartum depression. My son was 7 weeks old when he got his first bottle of organic formula- and I mourned the loss of the nursing relationship I so longed for. Although I was still giving my son 6-12 ounces of breast milk per day from my own frozen stash, I knew that wouldn’t last for very long. The nearest breastmilk bank was 4.5 hours away, required a prescription from an OB/pediatrician, gave precedence to severely ill/premature babies, and costs $3 an ounce (not including shipping). So on my doula’s urging, I decided to check out two informal milk-sharing sites called Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) and Eats on Feets (EoF). I nervously contacted two mothers in my city who were offering up their extra breastmilk, completely free, out of the goodness of their hearts. My own heart bruised from my own feelings of regret, I prayed they would not judge my inability to continue nursing/pumping. Not only that, but many people I had talked to about donor breast milk seemed very wary of the idea- how do you know that this milk is safe, that the mothers aren’t sick or doing drugs? Instead of judgment, I found kindness from these donor milk moms who were just trying to help out, who had the same belief as me- breast milk is the normal, natural, perfect food for our babies. In fact, one of these first two moms is now a very close friend, and despite her daughter being over a year old, she continues to nurse her and pump about 6 ounces a day for my son! (I also told her about the Boba 3G, and she’s now a regular babywearing momma!) Since the end of October/early November, my son has had 10 donors, and at 24 weeks old, he stopped needing any supplementary formula. I got to know these women, saw them pumping and/or feeding their children, and many of them offered up copies of their blood work and medical history. One of them was an elementary school friend of mine, another went to school with my husband since they were just kids, and a third was my sister-in-law’s high school buddy. All of them did it out of generosity, not for profit (which both HM4HB and EoF strictly prohibit). Through their donations, I have made many amazing momma friends from all over California, and even two from Oregon and Colorado. I learned that it is possible to practice “attachment parenting” while bottle-feeding. I hold my son in my arms as I feed him (instead of propping his bottle or making him hold it on his own) and try to emulate the nursing relationship. Whenever we are out, I avoid using our stroller and instead opt to carry him close in the Boba 3G. I respond to his cries and avoid rigid feeding/sleeping schedules. I never thought, in a million years, that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed my son. However, I am so thankful that I have made friends with so many selfless women. Every new donor momma that I meet, I take a photo of them with my son. One day I hope to share these photos and the story of his milky mommas with my son.
5 comments
Lisa from Bottle Babies
Lisa from Bottle Babies

Thankyou for sharing your story with us over at Bottle Babies.  Attachment parenting is so much more about the love that is put into each feed than how a baby is fed.   Congratulations to you and all who have supported you in your journey.

heartforliberia
heartforliberia

Rock on, Lily!  You're a great mom....your son is blessed to have you for his mommy!  I have a friend who's unable to breastfeed, and my admiration of her is through the roof.  Attachment parenting is about so much more than breastfeeding...and the dedication mamas like you and she show to their little ones astounds me.

mamagrannan
mamagrannan

Wow Lily. This post hit right to home for me. I literally could've been reading my story (except the whole natural birth part...you go girl!). I have struggled every. single. day. with the fact that I can no longer breastfeed. I've felt judged and ashamed. I had an overabundance of milk, and didn't know that I could've just taken a Claritin or something to help decrease my supply. I also have Ehlers-Danlos with Raynaud's, and now I'm wondering if that was part of the problem as well. I teared up reading this and how painful it was for you, because I remember. Oh boy do I remember. I'm so happy you were able to find donor milk. If I have the same struggles next time, I'll also now know about HM4MB and EoF. I am proud to babywear and cloth diaper, at least! :) Thank you so much for sharing your story, and a million thanks to the milk mamas out there. Keep up the good work.

amy_willa
amy_willa

LOVE this! It's this type of dedication, sensitivity, and cooperation and support that Natural Parenting is all about! Right, @dionna ?  Way to go, mama, and kudos to your milk donors who have helped you provide natural and normal nutrition for your baby boy in not-so-normal and frustrating conditions! What a wonderful and inspiring story!

amy_willa
amy_willa

LOVE this! It's this type of dedication, sensitivity, and cooperation and support that Natural Parenting is all about! Right, @dionna ?  Way to go, mama, and kudos to your milk donors who have helped you provide natural and normal nutrition for your baby boy in not-so-normal and frustrating conditions! What a wonderful and inspiring story!