A friend asked me yesterday what my most popular, or most viewed post was. I shared with her THIS POST. It was written about a little under 2 years ago during a very challenging time. I re-read it and was in tears. Every emotion came back to me and I remembered every terrible detail of that period in my life.
I’ve shared with you all that I lost my younger sister 2 years ago to suicide. My son was a newborn at the time, well, he was 2 months old, and I was breastfeeding him. He actually was so easy to breastfeed compared to my daughter. I had horrible issues with my daughter, including her completely taking a chunk of my nipple off. And, yes, stubborn me, I nursed right through it all. I was super-mama. I could nurse with a missing nipple…even though I, secretly, despised every whimper or cry my daughter made to nurse when she was hungry.
My son was a completely different story. I was so happy that we had such a good nursing relationship from the start. I guess this is how it usually is with your second child. However, the day my sister died, my supply immediately tanked. I talk about my experience more in depth in THIS POST. But, I remember sitting on the curb outside my sister’s house 15 minutes after we discovered that she had taken her own life. My son was hungry and I had to feed him. I had to give life in the midst of death….and I couldn’t. I couldn’t.
I will never judge another mom who I see give formula to their baby. I was so ashamed. I felt so guilty. I felt so inadequate as a mother. I drove myself crazy trying to get some milk out of my deflated breasts. I pumped while I was grieving. I took herbal supplements while eating care-meals that were delivered to us. I wore an Supplemental Nursing System in the middle of my sister’s funeral. I tried and I tried and I tried…and I failed. My body was telling me I needed the rest. My body was telling me to focus on myself…on my grief…on my loss. But I could not just let it go. Here I am trying to care for my 2 year old and my newborn baby …but my body was not able to keep up with the high demand that I was giving it.
Embarrassed by what I had to do…I shamefully, purchased baby formula in secret. I put that formula in my Medela bottles so people would think that it was pumped breastmilk. I even wore a nursing cover while feeding my son out of a bottle UNDER THE BLANKET. I was so ashamed.
This is what 125 gallons of donated breastmilk looks like…
Two years later my son is a brilliant, strong, and healthy little boy. I made it. I got through the toughest season of my life. For a short while, I thought he was my curse. How could something so tragic happen when I had a newborn? I was so mad at God for giving me this “burden”. I loved my son so much, but, why? How? How could I celebrate this new life given to me while grieving the death of my sister? We think miracles are flying angels, or healings, or someone someone walking out of a wheelchair. But, I’ve come to realize they aren’t always like that.
Miracles come in the form of plastic baggies and styrofoam coolers and little notes saying that 10 ounces is all I could pump. They come in the form of a stranger handing you a cooler of pumped breast milk and giving you a hug. They come in the form of friends pumping while nursing their babies then giving you their milk. They come in the form a UPS man handing you a regular package, but inside you know that there is 2 months worth of milk for your baby that you weren’t able to produce.
Two years later I have a new appreciation for the community of mothers. They pump and they nurse and they drive 50 miles to give you something that you so desperately need. They don’t ask questions and they don’t ask for anything in return and when you give them flowers to say thank you, they say that they didn’t think twice about it.
My son is thriving today, 2 years later, because of those mothers. You are the reason I got through this. You are the reason I have hope in mankind again. You give birth to your own babies and then you nurse them and pump for mine. Who does that?
This is what 125 gallons of breastmilk looks like…
This is because of you. Thank you for donating. Thank you to all the mothers who have ever donated to ANYONE. You are amazing. You are the angels that walk this earth. Thank you.