By: Kristi Autrey, Mom of 4 Wonderful Boys
I am a mom who suffers from IGT (insufficient glandular tissue), and have been able to nurse 4 babies to the best of my ability. Most moms in my shoes would have given up and gone to the bottle but I was determined to give my baby everything I could. As long as I made a drop of milk, I was going to give it to my baby! I went through a lot giving my baby the best I could: lots of doctors appointments for weight checks, lots of mouth from other people telling me to give up, that I was starving my baby to death. At times, I would think they were right. And then I would get up, latch my baby to my breast with the at-breast supplementer, and smile, for I was giving my baby the best.
I can only make about 15 ounces/day, maximum, so I have had to give formula in the past because I thought there was no other option. I have never had any one around me nurse. They all went straight to bottles, so the thought of getting milk from another mom was never a reality for me until I had my fourth son. He was 7 months old when I found milksharing. It has changed my life and the way I feel and think about formula feeding and why any mother would go straight to formula and not even try to nurse her baby. It is sad we live in a society that pushes formula as the mainstream way to feed a baby. They always say “breast is best,” but shove formula in your face. Why could they not say, “There are donors who make too much milk for their babies and who are willing to give milk to yours if you can find one.” I think if they would, there would be more people breastfeeding their babies and the formula bottle generation would fade into the background. Then women at the store giving their babies a bottle would be the odd ones, not me, the woman with the nursing shawl and a baby attached to the breast while grocery shopping.
My son was having serious issues with the formulas I thought I had to give him. He started on supplementary formula at 5 days old and from week 2 of his life went from pooping a lot to none at all. He would only poop once a week and when he did it was hard and black or dark forest green at times, but mostly solid black. He would throw up every time he had his bottle and it was not a little, it was half or more of what he ate. I was always covered in puke. His weight was very slow to gain and the doctor was constantly saying if he didn’t gain we were going to have to put him in the hospital. I had already been through this with 2 of my sons and history was repeating itself, but this time I had a computer and internet. When he was 5 months old we got it. Through talking to other breastfeeding moms who are like me and can only give their babies part of what they need, I got some support I badly needed. My husband and my mom were my only sources before and though they never gave up on me breastfeeding and I would not have made it without them, at times they would make me feel as if they were leaning towards the other side of giving up. Through these mom forums I found out about Eats on Feets, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and Milkshare.
As soon as I found out milksharing was an option I went straight to the sites and posted my need on all of them. It took me a couple of weeks to find a mom who could donate to me so when I got my first shipment in the mail it was like getting brand new diamond earrings. That box was pure gold in my eyes. I took it in the house and opened it as fast as I could, worried that the milk had thawed in transit. Oh, the relief when I opened the box and took the lid off the cooler: frozen solid. Yes! It made it to me! I thawed 20 ounces that day and started on my journey of providing donor milk for my son. Within 3 days of starting the donor breastmilk he stopped throwing up. After a week he started pooping every other day, at first, but he was pooping and it was not hard. It did not hurt my baby. No more bleeding; just to do the most natural thing: poop.
The difference in my son is nothing short of a miracle. The women who have provided milk for my son are angels. They will be blessed for the gift they have given me and my son. I could never repay them for this. He is doing great! I learned after taking my son off the formula that he was allergic to it and that all the intestinal problems and throwing up was because of that. My doctor said they did not tell me that because there was no other option for me besides formula, so they just kept switching him to different formulas and giving me medicines to counteract the problems the formula caused. My son is 10 months old now and has been on donor milk for about 10 weeks. His tummy is healing great and he is a brand-new baby thanks to all the moms who have donated to my little man. I cannot thank them enough for their love and generosity. I wish I would have known about milksharing from the first day I had to give any of my babies formula. I am glad it is there when needed but there should be doctors and LC’s telling mothers that are having problems with formula that there is another option and that milksharing is the best option. Their hands are tied and cannot tell us, so I am trying to get the word out about milksharing, so no mom has to dump her milk because it went bad, and no baby in need has to suffer because of formula intolerance!! I am thankful for milksharing and all the sites that provide the place for us moms to connect to each other.
World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/
Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB): http://www.hm4hb.net/