If you followed this blog in June, you might recall the post about me pumping and the large quantity of milk I was collecting and storing. I didn't note it at the time, but that photo was of our 2nd refrigerator in our garage. Our kitchen freezer was also stocked with milk. A few weeks later we bought a deep freezer, which turns out to have been too small.
I was beginning to feel completely overwhelmed with breastmilk. While Veronica was still in the NICU, I was told we would go through the milk quickly when Veronica came home, the theory being she would drink the older milk, and I would pump fresh milk to be frozen and used at a later time. So that was our initial plan but I wasn't expecting Veronica to begin nursing exclusively as soon as she did. If she was able to nurse, then I would no longer need to pump (to this day I still thank God for this....it has made life sooooooo much easier). But then the question became, what were we going to do with all of the milk, which at one point was probably well over 1000 ounces. Someone at some point suggested that I donate. Initially I didn't even consider this option. I feared that there might come a time when Veronica would need all of that milk. What if something happened to me, or what if my milk dried up? Evenutally I came to the conclusion that donating would be the best option. I wish I could say that this decision was out of the goodness of my heart. But the reality is that it was the sheer volume of milk that pushed me to look into donating. But whatever the reason, I am so thankful to have found Milkin' Mamas.
Milkin' Mamas works with Prolacta Bioscience, the creator of the only Human Milk Fortifier (HMF) made from human milk. HMF is a fortifier added to the breastmilk of mothers who have extremely premature babies in NICUs. HMF provides additional protein and nutrients that micro preemies need, which believe it or not, are not found in breastmilk. For a long time, HMF was made only from cow's milk.
I contacted Milkin' Mamas about a month ago to begin the donation process which included collecting a DNA sample and giving a blood sample, all from the comfort of my own home. Milkin Mamas contacted my OB/GYN and Veronica's pediatrician to ensure that there weren't any reasons I shouldn't donate my milk. They also sent me a thermometer to check the temperature of my freezers. The entire process was quite fascinating and surprising simple. Once I was cleared to go, Milkin' Mamas sent me two coolers to pack up my milk and ship it to Prolacta in California. (You can see Liesl leaning on the box containing one of the coolers. And there is cute Baby Veronica to her left.)
A few days later, I packed up over 200 ounces of breastmilk. Unfortunately, much of my milk I couldn't donate because of medications I had taken at the time I had pumped it. So basically our freezers are still packed with bottles. Oh well....
After the milk was packed in the coolers, FedEx came to my home, picked them up, and less than 24 hours later, the milk was delivered to Prolacta in California. From there it will undergo additional testing, pasteurization, etc. Eventually it will be made into Human Milk Fortifier, delivered to NICUs around the country, and given to extremely premature infants. Amazing!!
For the past six months, we have benefited from the generosity and prayers of so many people. And we feel so very fortunate and incredibly blessed that Veronica is continuing to do well. It may sound strange, but I feel good knowing that from this entire traumatic premature birth and NICU experience, I am finally able to give something back by donating milk to help other babies. It's the very least I can do....