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Dovelyn's BreastMilk Donation Story
My daughter was born in the hospital, January 27th, 2013. I had labored at home with her, talking to her the entire time, letting her know we were okay and that mommy loved her. I stayed at home until about 6cms.
I had researched like a mad woman my entire pregnancy to make sure I would have as easy a natural labor as was possible for me. I was lucky and had no complications during my pregnancy at all, I was so thankful.
The labor and delivery room were crazy cold, but I was able too focused on birthing my child. The birth was amazing. Other than the annoying monitors, I loved it all. We had no IV, no medical pain relievers, no complications of any kind. Just a perfect little baby girl that stared up into my eyes from where she gently cooed at me on my tummy.
I wrote the full story of our labor and delivery in a previous post as well. You can read it all by clicking HERE.
My midwife quickly placed her on my breast after helping me birth my placenta. She placed my nipple into Dovelyn's mouth and I just semi-sat/laid there staring at my baby in awe. She was beautiful. The feeding stung, but I ignored it at that point assuming it was just my breasts getting use to suckling.
Once in the hospital stay room, I was switching her back and forth between breasts for even feedings. My breasts swelled from the milk coming in by about the second day or so. They hurt from being engorged as well as Dovelyn's feeding. I knew that if she was nursing correctly it shouldn't hurt, sometimes it did and sometimes it didn't, then sometimes it would hurt simply because of the previous painful feedings. I constantly had to adjust her, and ask the nurse to help with adjusting. I began to pump to relieve the engorgement.
It helped immensely, and I had hopes that maybe I could pump enough to donate. Later that night however, Dove began to cry. I brought her to my breasts as per usual, but this time she would only suckle for a few seconds then unlatch. Then she'd try again and unlatch once more. The crying overwhelmed me, I began to tear up. I didn't know how to calm my baby who was obviously hungry and I begged the nurses to stop trying to get her to latch, it obviously wasn't working right now because she was freaking out, just get her a bottle of my milk!!
They, of course, obliged. I was relieved to give her the bottle of my colostrum. I was relieved to have stopped her fear and distress, to have her falling back to sleep in my arms. However I began to cry small tears because, even though it was just one happenstance, I felt I had failed somehow at feeding her.
After that I would go back and forth with pumping and feeding Dove. I'd feed her and then pump whatever my breasts had left. The Lactation consultant saw us the next day. Look at my breasts with red sores and said they'd be fine. I would just need a nipple shield and to take some lanolin. I asked for a recommendation for a pump from my insurance, which she obliged.
Upon arriving home, I slept with Dovelyn in my bed. I attempted trying to sleep with her in her pack'n'play or rock'n'play next to me, but even that seemed too far away at times. In the dead of my sleep, I'd have to scramble about the bed trying to find the nipple shield to feed her.
On the occasion that we went out, and in those early weeks they were plenty to show others my beautiful daughter, we lost the nipple shield more than once. The small, see through shield was exhausting to constantly keep near and an eye on. If I left the room and forgot it there, I'd come all the way down from the third floor to get it.
I was excited to hopefully do without it one day. So every once and again, I would attempt to feed her without the shield and she would make it through what seemed like a full feeding. However, that did not last. She would end up searching for the smoother feel of the shield, thus requiring it again.
In addition, I was dealing with sudden bouts of depression and anxiety at every feed. I knew before pregnancy that nipple stimulation would regularly overwhelm me and I had fear that breastfeeding would do the same, and slowly it was truly beginning to do so.
As an exhausted new mother, dealing with feelings of inadequacies as well as rushes of anxiety while feeding, when offered by family members to have the baby fed a bottle of milk, I nodded and crawled into bed to cry and then nap.
This experience was not only physically exhausting, but emotionally and mentally exhausting. I constantly threw myself back into the mix of researching, feeling that I could not get out of the house because of the dependency on the nipple shield, which I feared loosing, and because of the practically crippling feeling of anxiety I would get during feeding.
I'd connect well otherwise with my child, but I constantly feared the flush of anxiety I would get while holding her during feedings. Friends had offered help with the latching, going as far as mailing me an SNS from Canada to help with getting her more milk while nursing, as well as with, what I thought at the time to be, PPD. However, I continued to feel as if I was being too much of a burden. Maybe I was just being lazy and that's why I didn't know the answer? Maybe it was just me subconsciously looking for an excuse to be a bad mom? How those thoughts take over one's mind so easily!!
However, I was over the anxiety. I couldn't stand that, while other mothers cooed about the beauty of holding their newborn, watching them feed with happiness and love, I sat miserable, anxious to run out of my house and into the street. At one point I became confident enough in my ability to pump that I simply switched completely over to exclusively pumping. This helped with dissociating the anxiety away from my child.
It did not take long for someone to speak up to me and tell me about "DMER," Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. The sense of relief I had upon researching this was gigantic!! The weights lifted plenty once I knew what I was dealing with. I knew it was not my child, I knew it was not me being a "bad mom." Now at pump sessions I could prepare for the anxiety flushes!!
"AHA! Now I have put a name to the beast and may conquer it!" I thought.
Pump and Pump and Pump and...
So, I pumped. I pumped every 2.5-3hrs. I pumped for about 30 minutes. I pumped through out the day. I pumped in the dead of night. I pumped while I swayed left and right and nodded my head from desperate want to be back to sleep.
I pumped through tears. I pumped through the strange feeling of my scalp turning cold. I pumped past the thoughts of, "Just jump out the window." I pumped past the thoughts of, "Run away."
I pumped for days. I pumped for weeks. I pumped at home. I pumped at family gatherings. I pumped at work. I pumped in the big, cold, lonely conference room with only the sounds of the suction and milk spilling into the bottle to fill my ears.
I pumped for months.
I pumped and I reminded myself the entire time, it's only for a little while. Just one year. I pumped while I calculated how much milk I had in the freezer. I pumped and thought about how much milk she might need to get her through to a year if I could freeze that much so I'd never have to pump again.
And at first it was worth it. I was able to donate twice to a beautiful family. I was able to pat myself on the back and say, "See, you are feeding your child the best. You are helping someone else feed their child the best. You are doing your best for your child."
Then my supply began to level out.
The Beauty of Donated Breast Milk.
As time went on I began to push back my pumping sessions to avoid the anxiety. I'd wait just ten more minutes. Then, "Just one more episode." Then I'd be an hour late every now and then, and then I'd desperately be pumping to raise my supply up again. I would pump and I'd pump every hour to bring back my supply.
I had to ask for milk donations to supplement what I did not have. When we lacked availability to breast milk, Dovelyn would cry and cry and cry, and would simply NOT give in to drinking formula. We tried Earth's Best organic formula, and even just the smell of it was insulting to the senses, like some kind of chemical waste. By the way that Dovelyn would slap the bottle away, it was obvious she didn't like it any better than we did. We tried enfamil, we trade the goats milk route, we tried just about anything that people told us to try to get our daughter to eat, but she refused.
Whenever I didn't have enough breast milk in our freezer, I'd freak out, I'd hate myself for not being a better mother and getting on the pump on time.
I'd take supplements of all kinds and up my demand to my breasts. I learned that fenugreek gave my baby gas troubles and she'd have trouble sleeping, so I had to stop using it too much. So, I donated boxes of mother's milk tea to those who needed it since I could not use it.
As my supply continued to fall, my friend offered to help me search for donors. I was entirely thankful for this. People gave plenty and plenty of milk. So much so that I felt, maybe, just maybe, I could finally rest and stop having to put myself through the mental crucible of endlessly pumping.
On the day my daughter turned 7 months, I rejoiced and exclaimed to my closest friends just how excited and relieved I was. They understood as they had had to endure my weekly wallowing. I was more than ecstatic, I was extremely grateful to every woman who had had enough heart to help me keep my baby fed. It was the most beautiful out pouring of love for a child that I had experienced in my life towards my family.
At this time, we're left with the only option of feeding her organic cows milk.
She only loved what nature intended for her to digest, breastmilk. Oh, yes, she'll drink the bottle of cows, but cows milk lacks the nutrients her sweet little body needs to grow healthy and strong. Currently we have to convince her to take supplements. One for the vitamins, another for iron, and another for DHA. All of this along with trying to sneak in a quarter of a scoop of "Nature's Only" soy formula to boost the cow's milk nutrients just to try and keep my baby healthy while we pray that supplementing her with baby foods is enough as well.
Cows milk is meant for cows, the research in soy shows that it raises estrogen levels, nutrients are shown to be best absorbed when they are from whole foods (such as breastmilk) not synthetically created in labs... All of it is just frustrating to have to feed to my child when I know she deserves better.
I know the beauty of milk donations, I have seen both sides of the beautiful show of humanity and maternal instinct. I know that it is widely said that it takes a village to raise a child, and this our family asking with open hearts, if you have milk to share, that you help us keep Dovelyn on what's healthiest for her, the milk she loves, breast milk.
Thank you so much,
- Dovelyn's Natural Labor & Delivery
The story of my natural labor and delivery with my first born daughter, Dovelyn. It has information that other women can hopefully find of use for their own labor and delivery. Please Enjoy, -Glare
- Le Leche League
Le Leche League (LLL) has TONS of information as well as resources to help women be successful at breastfeeding! Find your local meet up for face-to-face help!
- Human Milk 4 Human Babies
HM4HB helps connects thousands of families together for milk sharing. Those who want to give milk as well as need to receive are free to use this site as well as their facebook pages to look for others.