14,000 Ounces.

Fiona was adopted from birth.

When I found out we were getting her, I decided (very naively) that I wanted her to get breast milk until she was a year old. Every book, every class, every mom I had ever learned from said that “breast is best” and so feeding her breast milk made sense.

I researched milk banks, and that didn’t work.  Not only was I not the mother of a preemie baby, quite frankly, I couldn’t afford their rates and our insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Personally, I thought that was messed up considering how milk banks get their milk, but such is life so I kept looking.

Through our required parenting class at The Gathering Place, I learned about milk sharing.  They referred me to La Leche League for information, but they also told me about milk sharing sites such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Milk on Feets.

I made it my business to learn.

A year ago today I received my first donation from Dallas, a woman I met through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. It was 40 ounces. I was stoked. I thought that would last forever!

Fiona was born December 18th and came home with us December 20th. Very quickly it became apparent that 40 ounces weren’t going to take us very far and that getting donor milk was going to be a challenge…

I started scrambling and hustling and made getting her donor milk my number one priority in life after her well being. I joined mommy groups, posted on milk sharing sites, and put myself out there for the world to know what I was trying to do.

It was hard.

But the more I looked for reasons to quit and just give Fiona formula, the more I learned how important it was that I kept trying to get her donor milk. I did the research, I saw the studies, and I know that many people will argue with me about my conviction regarding breast milk, but I learned that breast really is best.

And we got lucky and the milk started coming…

Different women all over Florida (and some who were visiting) heard my pleas and stepped up to donate. Some donations were small, and some were huge.

I drove to places I’d never been. It was like a forced tour of Florida I never wanted. But each time I came home with milk for my baby, and each day I considered myself lucky that I had milk for my daughter.

With Fiona turning 1 in 2 weeks, today I received the last donation I will probably accept.

All in all, in the past year we have received from 42 different women a total of 14,000 ounces of breast milk donations.

Our daughter will make it to a year exclusively on breast milk.

My heart is about to explode from so much gratitude and love for these 42 amazing women who didn’t know us but stepped up to help us asking for nothing in return. And every single one, from Dallas, our first donor, to Waruska, the last one, even if I don’t see them again, will be my friend forever.

It really does take a village. ♡♡♡

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It Really Takes a Village…

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

Before Fiona was born I decided that unless there was a really good reason why Fiona couldn’t, that I would do everything in my power to make sure she was fed exclusively breast milk until she is at least 1 year old.  I had a back up plan (I still have a stash of Holle milk to prove it), but the reality was that having read the research, recommendations, and a lot of the information available to new mothers, I really hoped that I could do this for my daughter.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like an ambitious project to most people; however, Fiona is adopted.

As much as I would have liked to have a nursing relationship with my daughter, and had I been able to, I most certainly would have breastfed her exclusively until she weaned herself. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for us so I had to think outside of the box.

Years back I saw a picture of Salma Hayek breastfeeding an African child.  I remember looking at that picture and thinking to myself what an amazing woman she was for sharing her baby’s food with one who wasn’t as fortunate.   That image has always stayed with me.

I had heard about the existence of milk banks but upon further research, I found them to be cost prohibitive in the long term. Not to mention that in most cases we didn’t qualify due to the fact that Fiona was neither in the NICU nor had any kind of special need.  Hell, she wasn’t even born when I was making these inquiries!  But like they say, when God closes a door he always opens a window because it was during this time that I first heard of community breast milk sharing.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”- African Proverb

11061228_10155997276185061_6396593316691245215_nEvery passing day that saying becomes more and more true for our family. Thanks to some amazingly generous mothers I’ve connected with through Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets, Fiona has been fed exclusively breast milk all 8 months and 1 week of her life and is well on her way to make it to the goal of 1 year I had originally set for us.

Yay!

Now, I’m not judging those who don’t place as much importance on breastfeeding as I have.  Still, i think the option of milk sharing should be included in the conversation for moms who do feel breastfeeding is important and who, like me, can’t breastfeed their children, and those who produce far more milk than their children can consume.  This can make a world of difference in the life of a child.