Let’s backtrack nearly 7 years ago. When Miss H was born I knew nothing about breastfeeding other then it was natural and it was obviously what I was going to do. I did not put any more thought or research into it.
Let’s say I was blissfully unaware. Extremely ignorant. And I turned out to be very, very lucky despite all our hurdles like terrible thrush, tongue tie, terrible latch, bloody nipples, mastitis so bad that I had my milk duct cut open and drained; she was still able to breastfeed until she was nearly 4 years old.
When she was born I had a plethora of milk. It was overflowing. But I didn’t know much about oversupply, so I pumped for relief. And then I pumped for more than a relief. I pumped until my breasts were empty. I accumulated hundreds and hundreds of ounces of milk. Milk my baby would not take from a bottle. Because, being as unknowledgeable as I was, I didn’t know that there were different types of bottles and different babies had different preferences. All I knew was the bottle that we had purchased and tried on a limb, she did not care for. So we tossed it aside and never tried again.
And all that milk? Oh yes. That liquid gold all went down the drain. Because again, there was so much I did not know yet.
I didn’t know about milk banks. I didn’t know you could donate milk directly to another momma. I had no idea that was a thing, and so that milk went unused.
When I think about all the milk that I poured down the drain back then, I want to cry. So much waste.
When Mr. B came along, I didn’t have the oversupply issue because I had a voracious toddler who was more than happy to help drink all that extra milk.
And then, years later, finally, Sweet M came to be.
I knew more then. I knew so much. I was also more confident, more laid-back, and had less of a desire to try and prove anything to myself.
So when he was two days old with a terrible tongue and lip tie, my nipples bloody, I didn’t hesitate when I texted a close friend and asked her is she had any pumped milk I could have. In the middle of the night, J drove over to her house to collect the frozen liquid gold.
By the grace of God we had a bottle that a friend had given us with some other baby things. J thawed the milk and put it in the bottle. I sat on our bed in the middle of the night and gave my newborn a bottle of another momma’s milk.
I thought I’d feel grief. Overwhelming sadness. Failure.
But I did not.
I felt sweet relief. I felt eternal gratitude.
Sweet M is a year old and he is still an avid breastfeeder. He will nurse until he chooses to selfwean. I am comfortable with that.
After his tongue and lip tie was corrected, our breastfeeding relationship became beautiful and easy.
I pumped nearly 2000 ounces in the first 6 months of his life. Some Sweet M consumed in a bottle. Most was donated directly to other babies. My milk has nourished twins, a baby with a dairy intolerance (I was completely dairy freeat that time), a friend’s baby whose momma was not able to breastfeed, and a few others. It’s really pretty cool to know that I helped so many other babies thrive.
And when I got pregnant with our little Jelly Bean and my milk supply began to plummet, something I did not experience when I had gotten pregnant with Mr. B while breastfeeding Miss H, I reached out to my community for breast milk to supplement with while I worked hard to increase my supply again, and there was an overwhelming amount of support and milk. Mommas filled up my freezer, and my baby’s belly, with their own precious liquid gold.
Y’all, there are no words. Having other mommas care about my babe enough to spare that goodness for him, some being mommas who don’t even know him: that’s amazing. It really does take a village.
I always thought I’d be uncomfortable giving my baby a bottle. I never imagined giving him any milk other than my own. But I am so incredibly grateful to have my sweet boy nourished with other mommas’ milk.
What an amazing gift.