I would love to say that the moment my little baby came to the breast for the first time he sucked and immediately we had a breastfeeding relationship. But for many of us, it just wasn’t the case. My son, Rowan, would suck on his upper lip and therefore receive no milk. Then he got struck down with jaundice and was in the NICU for two days being fed bottles. When I finally brought him home he had no idea how to breastfeed and would scream every time I put him to my breast. We went to a lactation consultant and she introduced me to the breast shields. I’m never going to forget the moment Rowan latched on to my breast and began to nurse. I started crying. I was so happy to be able to nurse my baby. However, the breast shield comes with a price. Not only do you always have to have a clean one ready, but since babies get 50% less milk through the shield you have to pump to get your milk supply up and supplement with bottles. So this was my first 2 1/2 months with my newborn baby. Every 2 hours I would nurse him with the shield, heat up a bottle, put him back to bed, go back and pump, wash all the attachments (rinse and boil) and the shield, and re-set up the pump station. By the time I was done with everything it was time to start the process all over again. Everyday I would have a meltdown and everyday someone would tell me to quit. But this is what I wanted for my baby and for me. I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to give him the best nutrition that was specifically designed for him. I told him everyday that I wouldn’t give up on him. We were going to get through this. I continued to do this until he was able to nurse without the shield. It was a struggle to get him to do it but by offering the breast without the shield at every feeding he finally did it. By 3 months we had the breastfeeding relationship I had been dreaming about. I’m very happy to say that we are still breastfeeding and going strong. My son is 17 months old and when I look back I still can’t believe we did it.
With all the milk I had been pumping my supply was far more than what my baby needed. I was able to pump 6 ounces of milk after he was done feeding. I told my doctor that I had 200 ounces in the freezer and I knew Rowan would not consume all of it, especially as I wanted to breastfeed and not bottle feed. He told me I could donate the milk and put me in touch with the Mother’s Milk Bank of San Jose. There you go through blood tests and a few questions and then you donate your milk in the comfort of your own home. I would pump and freeze my milk and once a month a nurse would come by and pick it up. So I became a ongoing donor and would pump at 3am to make sure I could get a good 6 ounces out and it wouldn’t affect my baby’s feeding in the morning. I had to stop donating when Rowan turned nine months because he began getting sick all the time and was nursing around the clock. I’ve been thinking about donating again. It’s such an easy gift to give. I was told that the milk goes to very sick and premature babies who’s immune system isn’t strong enough to handle formula. So if you are thinking about donating milk – Do it! They need the milk. They showed me their freezer where they store the milk and it was almost empty. It was so sad to think that so many babies won’t receive milk.