Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cancer and Pregnancy Loss Didn't Deter this Mama!

by Megan White, Guest blogger

Isn’t it strange how one moment in your life changes it forever?

This is my journey. It starts out heartbreaking, but like all good stories, it has a happy ending.
When I was 21, I received the scariest news of my short life so far: I had cancer. I was a young mom, and I had cancer. Just the word strikes fear in those that have been touched by it—and most of us have in one way or another. I had a baby that needed me and I didn’t know if I would be around for all those wonderful moments all moms live to see. I held her a little longer, I kissed her a little harder, and I watched her a little closer. She was my reason to fight. I was told I would probably never have another baby. She was my one and only, and I was determined to be the best mom I could be, to cherish every moment I had with here, small or big.

Through treatments, I soon found myself in remission! I had a healthy, happy little girl and a wonderful, supportive husband. I was the happiest I could be, but that desire to have another baby never went away. I tried to push the longing as far back in my mind as I could. I had my girl! It was selfish of me to ask for more—but I did. Quicker than a blink of an eye, six years had passed. We were a family of 3 and we thought that was how it was always going to be. Then, on a rainy February morning, I did something I never thought I would do, I took a pregnancy test. Through shaking hands and a tear filled eyes, I saw the two pink lines show up. I was pregnant! Our family was overjoyed. My daughter was beside herself with excitement. After years of being told another baby was near impossible, we were going have a baby!

Then on May 22nd, 2014 we went to a normal wellness check and heard news that shattered our little world into a thousand indiscernible pieces. We lost the baby. My heart was broken, and I didn’t think I would even be able to walk out of the doctor’s office. The hardest part of it all was knowing we’d have to tell our little girl that the baby was gone. How do you do that? How do you explain to a six-year-old that her brother or sister was no longer in mommy’s tummy? I still don’t know if we explained it right.
We all did our best to push forward, but I know I dropped the ball. I let my grief consume me, and the one that suffered the most was my daughter. I will always feel guilt over that. I pushed myself to do better, to be better. I dusted myself off and was determined to be the mommy that she needed—the one that she was used to.

Then, in mid-September, I had my annual check-up to see if I was still doing well. I was told that I was perfectly healthy. In fact, I was a perfectly health, 8-weeks-pregnant. ‘How is this possible?’ I thought to myself. How is it possible that after 6 years of trying that not only did I become pregnant once, but twice. I was terrified. I didn’t have that overwhelming joy that I felt the first time we were told that we were to have another baby. I couldn’t ; I wouldn’t let myself. I went to my appointments and heard the heartbeat every time, but I wasn’t going to let my hopes rise just to have them fall again. We didn’t tell our daughter about the pregnancy until it was getting obvious that mommy was getting bigger. We didn’t announce the pregnancy to anyone until I was 20 weeks. By then, we had a sex. We were having a boy!

There was no way that I could keep myself from feeling. We were going to have another baby! With every week that passed, I looked up if something were to happen, if the baby would have to be born early, would he survive. Those fears were squashed when I hit 37 weeks, then 38, 39 and then at 40 weeks, one day, our beautiful, healthy baby boy was born! There was only one way that I wanted to nourish him, and that was to nurse. There was not one moment, one experience that I wanted to miss out on. We had a few bumps in the road; we had to learn each other after all! But we have made it! At 8 weeks, our little boy is in the 75th percentile on height, and the 95th on weight! Not only have we made it this far, but I knew that if I was able, I wanted to donate my milk to another fanily that needed it. With an oversupply and an over-active let-down, I have been able not only to feed my son, but donate to 2 other babies! I cannot even begin to explain the honor I feel being a part of someone else’s breastfeeding journey as well as my own.

The pain of our loss will never go away, but we get better at moving forward. You take it day by day, and if you can’t manage that, take it minute by minute. Healing takes time, and my healing has been helped by my two beautiful children. Our journey isn’t over, not by a long shot, and I look forward to every second ahead of us.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Give Them Wings and WatchThem Fly

Nicholas came to the airport to see Uncle John off.
By Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Today I said good-bye to my 16 year old son as he headed off on the adventure of a lifetime to spend his junior year of high school in Cali, Colombia, at the Colegio Americano. As I was driving home from the airport I couldn't hold back the tears, and the thought occurred to me that the very act of becoming a mother means that you will never again be the same, no matter how old your children get. A tiny piece of your heart will always be with each of your children wherever  they go. You will rejoice when you see them make wise decisions, but if those decisions mean that they leave you for a time, that little piece of heart will go with them...and it will hurt for a while.

When John Carl (Juan Carlos to his Colombian and Peruvian friends) told his coaches at Westminster Christian Academy about his decision to go to Cali, one of his coaches asked him to write up something explaining why he was doing this. The incredible support he has had from faculty, administration, coaches and friends at WCA has been phenomenal. We are so blessed to have been part of such an incredible community of faith for the last 11 years.

I want to share with you what my son wrote because I am so proud of his willingness to listen to God's call. We have tried to raise him to be obedient, and now it's time for us to watch in amazement as he does just that!

Juan Carlos in his uniform

John Carl's Testimony

This summer I took a trip to Colombia for the 185th Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly which was held at the Colegio Americano. The Colegio Americano is a private school that was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1925; it consists of kindergarten to high school. They have around 120 kids in the high school level grades, so not much bigger than Westminster. However in Colombia, graduation is after grade 11 unlike the United States where it’s after 12th grade.

When I first arrived at the Colegio Americano, I was astounded by the campus grounds, the teachers, and all the students helping out for the General Assembly. That Saturday I had a wild thought that coming here to do schooling would be amazing. When I told that thought to my mom, she didn’t know what to think. She thought maybe coming down again next summer for a couple weeks would be good for me after school here had finished up just to see what school is like in Colombia. I knew in my heart that I truly wanted to attend the Colegio Americano for the entire year and graduate from there.

I have always wondered what God’s calling feels like because I have never been spoken to physically by God, and so I wondered how to know exactly what the Lord wants. The next three days we had services in which God directly showed me the way He wants me to take. We had a sermon on how to listen to God’s call and to go and make disciples of all nations. On Sunday there was a special missionary service where missionaries throughout the world were recognized.

My family used to be in the mission field first in Costa Rica and then in Peru. I was born in Lima, Peru, into a missionary family and would live there for the next 5 years. I remember parts of Peru but not all of it; however, I do remember the heartbreak it brought my entire family, including me, when we were forced to leave the country where I was born. One interesting note is that my trip to Colombia was the first time I had been back to South America since we left Peru. I didn’t realize how much of a longing I had to be back and experience South America again. I have dreamt of going back to Peru and perhaps someday I may live there again, but Colombia feels like the place I want to be, the place I need to be.

The Colegio Americano has a beautiful campus!
That Monday night a Colombian preacher spoke about letting go and being willing to accept God’s will. He had urged his child to finish law school before going into seminary even though God was calling his son into the ministry. In order to please his father, the son finished law school and then became a pastor. That night the preacher apologized to his son for not allowing him to follow God’s calling immediately at that point in his life. This sermon was very powerful to both my parents and me. Afterwards I found my mother and sobbed because we both knew this was exactly what God wanted for me, no questions asked.

I still do not know what all God has planned for me as I go to attend the Colegio Americano this next year, but I do know that if I follow His will and his guidance I will be okay. I also know that people may worry about the safety of a gringo in Colombia. First off, if I am following what God wants me to do I am worried by nothing. Secondly, the city of Cali is a very safe city, and while I was at the General Assembly I never felt danger at all, only the loving kindness of all the Colombians. Someday I pray that I will be able to go to many countries in order to serve and proclaim the name of Jesus to those who are in the darkness, looking for light.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Breastfeeding from a Dad's Point of View

Jason and Madelyn
Today's blog is very special. I really appreciate the time that this dad took to write it. I hope it reaches as many dads as possible!

By Jason Argo, Guest Blogger

The week of February 17, 2011, our daughter Madelyn was born. My wife was hoping to be able to breastfeed Madelyn when she came into this world, and it was a rough road of letdown, after letdown (no pun intended).  From the start, none of the first nurses we had in the hospital wanted to help with the situation, but rather always wanted to  stuff a bottle in our little girl’s mouth. The lactation consultant came in the next morning, but was of no help. She did not really evaluate the baby and did not tell us that Madelyn had a tongue tie, and that was going to make it difficult for her to latch on.

Our nurse that morning, Leah, was like ray of sunshine to the situation. She was so helpful to Amanda, first taking control and getting her physical pain to a manageable level. Then she lit a fire under the nutrition director because Amanda ordered lunch, and 2 hours later it still wasn’t there, but she hated being a burden and didn’t want me to go get it. However, her biggest task of all was guiding in breastfeeding – I do not think she was an IBCLC at that time, but but she offered wonderful nursing support. She also briefly pointed out that Madelyn had a tongue tie. I cannot brag enough on our favorite nurse on the delivery floor of Huntsville Hospital - Leah does an amazing job!  Leah felt the tongue tie needed more evaluation, so she brought the only available IBCLC back to the room which happened to be the same one who initially came in.

She still didn’t touch the baby but instead pointed out everything my wife had done wrong, never anything positive.  “You used a pacifier, the baby is confused.” “You’re sitting with bad posture.” "You’re taking pain medication”. The latter two were unavoidable as my wife has several musculoskeletal conditions that left her in excruciating pain after 18 hours of induced labor, 13 of which were without an epidural, 4.5 with it, and the last 30 minutes when she delivered it had worn off.  Once she started spit-firing all the insults and discouraging statements, Leah took control and told the IBCLC we had it from there and she could leave.

Amanda and Madelyn
Then not long after leaving the hospital, more challenges were flying at Amanda. She faced opposition from her family and mine as well. She would get comments like, "You’re starving her; make her a bottle." Or "Nobody wants to see that;go to another room because you just want to do draw attention to yourself." We also heard this classic line, "Other members of the family want to feed her." None of these things is something a new mother wants to hear, especially coming from family. There were even times where I would unintentionally drop an unsupportive comment. Like most dads, I often have foot-in-mouth syndrome; sometimes I shove it in there up to my knee!

We soon realized though that something was not right when Amanda would try to nurse Madelyn, but she just could not latch. I could not stand to see how much physical pain she was in and how emotionally broken she was over the whole situation. Madelyn was not gaining weight, and this is how we found Glenni at A Nurturing Moment. We came home on Sunday, and by the next Saturday Amanda was in so much pain and so exhausted she was walking through the house like a zombie carrying a can of “just in case” formula the hospital sent home with us.  I was cleaning the kitchen listening to a local Christian radio station and heard an ad for A Nurturing Moment where breastfeeding support was mentioned.  So we called.

Glenni is also another ray of sunshine in this story because she helped in so many ways. She really helped Amanda physically and mentally on some the struggles she was facing. She did everything she could to try to increase Amanda’s supply. She even taught us how to get Madelyn latching the way she needed to be latching.

Amanda always did her best to pump while she was at work but was getting so little. We would move milk back and forth between home, work, and her Mom’s house.  Madelyn suffered from a severe case of silent reflux, never really spitting up, but choking and sputtering and sometimes struggling to breathe, so it was important to us not to have her in a day care with multiple kids per adult. Therefore, we commuted 2 hours each morning and 2 hours each evening to keep her with family.  Most work days we didn’t get home until 9 or 10 PM.  Amanda would take a shower and lie down to nurse the baby while I put away the pumped milk, and I would unpack and load all of her pump parts into the dishwasher.

Each morning I got up long before she did to pack her pump parts into her pump bag and pack snacks for her to eat while she pumped, and then I woke her up so she could nurse the baby while I made and packed our lunches.  Sure, I could have used extra sleep, but it was all worth it because even though we were primarily using formula by 8 weeks, she still got between 2 and 4 ounces of liquid gold every day. Other than the reflux and the occasional reaction to vaccinations, Madelyn did not once catch any cold or get sick at all until a month before she turned 1 when she got an upper respiratory virus.
Even Zeus the dog adores Madelyn!

I write this because men need to realize that if their wives (or significant others) want to
breastfeed the baby, they need to help them breastfeed. To be honest and truthful BREAST IS BEST!!! There are so many things that are put in formula – go read the labels, or open a can and smell it – it even tastes metallic, but there is nothing like mother’s milk. Daddy can do other things to bond with baby like bathtime – make it fun!  Act silly!  Some of the best memories Madelyn and I have when she was a baby are from bathtime!  She’s now almost 5, ask her about the adventures of Soap Monster!

Please, please, I ask the men of the families to encourage  your love to the best of your ability if she is breastfeeding. Don’t let her hide in stalls in the bathroom; don’t let her hide anywhere for that matter. If your child is hungry, your child’s hungry. Don’t run all over God’s creation trying to find a “private” place, because a mom should not be isolated and shamed during a time she deserves to be loved and celebrated. It is a special connection that no one else can have with the child besides mommy, but if daddy is supportive, it grows a special connection between mommy and daddy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

One Month In, New Mom Is Loving the Adventure!

By Janell Hill, Guest blogger

I love it when things amaze me. But then again, who doesn’t? 

As a first time mom, I am constantly amazed with my new little one. Those toes! That button nose! Those lungs…. However, nothing amazes me more than my own ability to support this tiny human being with all the nutrients that she needs to grow by leaps and bounds every day. 

I am amazed that we have made it this far - one month to be exact - breastfeeding. At first, I felt awkward attaching a squirmy little person to myself. Support her head. Check her latch. Make sure she’s awake. There were so many things to consider, and that was all on top of the initial discomfort of breastfeeding and giving birth. Fortunately for me, I had plenty of help and encouragement from family, nurses, and lactation consultants. As the questions abounded, the kind folks at Madison Hospital were eager to listen, answer, and assist. For that, I am ever grateful. 

Currently, we are a month into this adventure. That’s four weeks of dirty diapers, hungry cries, and endless hours nursing. But it’s also four weeks of establishing a deep bond with my little one, loving stares into her eyes, caressing her sweet face, and holding her tiny hand. 

We’ve had our fair share of obstacles throughout this journey, but we’ve stuck it out and persevered. And I’m so glad we have. Watching my new baby eat and grow is truly amazing. She’s growing because of me! This milk is from me! My body is making this!!! 

I would be amiss to say that breastfeeding has been easy. There have been times that I wanted to give up and make a bottle of formula. There still are. But I know that despite the frustrations and fatigue, we will continue to breastfeed, and I will continue to be amazed. 

You can read more about Janell’s adventure in bringing up baby on her blog, On Growing Up

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Twins Sustained on Breastmilk Thanks to a Village of Support

By Somer Jennings, guest blogger

I have 14 month boy/girl twins that have been exclusively on breast milk since the day they were born at 33 weeks.  

I went into labor at 30 weeks for unknown reasons; thankfully they stopped it with meds and gave me steroids to help develop my babies' lungs.  At 33 weeks my baby girl decided to break my water; as you know, there is no going back at that point. My baby girl weighed 4lbs 1 oz and my baby boy weighed 4lbs 11oz. Of course they were both rushed to the NICU. At that point I had two tiny babies dependent on me to provide nourishment for their tiny bodies to grow.  

My breastfeeding journey started with an amazing friend bringing a huge bag of breast milk cookies and a kind smile to make sure I knew I had support.  Between NICU visits I started pumping, and right away I was producing! During our long 23 day NICU stay I was able to supply all the milk the babies needed and also store some up for our stash at home.  While in the NICU, only Keelan was able to nurse. Delaney wasn't big enough and they wanted to make sure she could come home with her brother, so we bottle fed her.

When we got home, I was nursing Keelan with a shield and pumping for Delaney. I was going through my stash pretty quickly because in the NICU they wanted the babies to have an enormous amount of milk at each sitting. I started getting worried at one point that I was going to have to supplement, so I reached out to my wonderful village. There were so many wonderful mommies that wanted to help out!  We had milk in our freezer and wet nurses when we were out and about.  We were so lucky to have all these wonderful women in our lives.  

In the mean time, I was pumping on a strict schedule, eating cookies, drinking tea, doing everything I could do to keep my supply up.  I also spent lots of time working with both babies trying to teach them to nurse. As it turns out, both babies had lip ties, though Keelan's was not as severe as Delaney's.  We went to the specialist and had hers corrected.  Eventually both babies went from bottle, to breast with shield, then to breast!  

We are still successfully nursing. We stopped accepting donor milk around 12 months because between table food and my milk, we were doing great!  My hopes with sharing my story is to let moms know, you can do it!! You are also NOT alone. I don't know what I would have done without my wonderful village.  The women that helped me are truly my heros.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Determined Mom Breastfeeds Second Baby Successfully

By Lowie Morgan, guest blogger

Here's my story with my little nursling, 

I have an almost 8 month old little boy named Isayiah. But I want to rewind to a few years ago when I had my daughter. I was walking down a hall with no info or support with breastfeeding. I had a lactation consultant and doctors telling me to supplement to help her gain weight and help prevent jaundice. So because I knew little to nothing about breastfeeding I did just that. I would supplement more and more because she would prefer it. When she was 4 months old that journey ended; I was devastated. I cried for months and just learned to tell myself, "It's okay; you're a wonderful mommy either way. But I felt a bond was ripped from me because I had no support or good info. 

Fast forward almost 2 years when I got pregnant with my son. I was determined to breastfeed him. I researched, read articles, youtubed  info, read books, and asked questions. I told my husband my wishes, and he totally supported me like he always has. When my son artived, he was an amazing nursling; he came out ready to nurse. I felt complete, and I couldn't wait to nurse him. I nursed him on demand, feeding him any time he was hungry. At his check up they mentioned that if he needed to supplement, I could give him some; nurses even gave me formula. I threw it out and said, "Oh no, this is not the way we're doing this! " 

We kept going strong, and at 6 weeks my menstrual cycle came,  and my supply dipped. I just kept pumping and nursing. It picked back up, and we were nursing happily along. His 4 month check up came, and he was in the less then 10 percentile for height and weight, so here comes the doctor saying, "You may need to supplement." 

My response: "Nope, not happening." We kept on  nursing. At 5 months we hit a nursing strike for a day; he was cutting teeth, and I was on my cycle again. I called a lactation consultant who said, "Keep trying, keep trying, unless you're ready for your journey to end." I said I was not even close. He came back full force, and at almost 8 months is going strong and growing like a little weed.

 My journey has had its ups and downs, days where I have said I'm done and days where it was such an amazing blessing to nurse him. There were days where I thought he wasn't going to nurse any more,  and I cried and cried. But the joys that come when his sweet little brown eyes look at me while he is nursing and he smiles at me outweigh any bad times. The fact that he can find comfort in his mommy and his milk that I make for him is beyond exciting and makes me proud to be a nursing mother. I have been on both sides of the table from an ashamed formula-feeding mom because I felt like I failed her, to a proud breastfeeding mommy. Either way, though, I was able to be a great mom to both of them, regardless of how I fed them.

I hope this helps or gives encouragement to another mom who is walking in the same shoes I was. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mom Refuses to Allow Emergency Hospitilization to Destroy Breastfeeding Relationship

By Susan Bachle, guest blogger

My name is Susan Bachle, and after nearly 11 years of marriage my husband and I were blessed with a precious little girl 8 months ago.  I have known I wanted to breastfeed since I was a little girl.  I was extremely intolerant of formulas as a baby and suffered with lactose intolerance as a child.  My mother expressed to me on numerous occasions when I was growing up that if she had breastfed me I would not have been lactose intolerant.  Now whether that is true or not, I don’t know, BUT it put me on the path to breastfeeding!  Nonetheless, when I had my daughter I did not feel as though my family was supportive of my decision and was told numerous times that I’d “give up” soon.  They were almost right.  

When Anna was only two weeks old I had a stomach ulcer perforate.  I underwent an emergency repair surgery and was hospitalized for nearly a week.  It was devastating to not only be away from my newborn baby but also not to be able to breastfeed her. I was not aware at the time that you could continue to breastfeed while taking some medications, so I followed the doctors’ orders, and pumped and dumped for the duration of my hospital stay.  My surgeon, however, was highly supportive of breastfeeding and ensured that I was given an excess of fluids while in the hospital; he encouraged me to continue pumping.  Of course it was difficult to maintain a strict pumping regime due to the effects of the medications, so my supply began to dip.  Later during a follow-up visit he expressed his surprise that I was still able to breastfeed after the surgery.  I am so relieved that he did not doubt my ability to do so during the time, as that certainly would have further discouraged me.

While I was in the hospital, I put out a call to the local breastfeeding Facebook group to request donor milk for my daughter.  I was lucky enough to be able to obtain some from a very generous mother!  My parents arrived to help my husband care for my daughter and gave her donor milk and formula.  I just knew that when I finally came home Anna would no longer latch.  She’d been on bottles and pacifiers while I was gone - my breastfeeding journey would surely be done.  

For the next several weeks I was on a liquid diet only, but I continued to try to breastfeed and rebuild my supply.  Anna re-latched like a champ - I was so relieved!  Anna and I laid in bed for days with lots of skin-to-skin contact, latching at every opportunity.  It was a challenge to maintain enough nutrition to exclusively breastfeed again, but within only a few short weeks we were back to 100 percent breastfeeding!  Now at 8 months our breastfeeding journey continues and I have zero plans to quit until she is ready!  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mom Achieves Beautiful Breastfeeding Goal Despite Difficult Hospital Start

by Kim Jones, Guest blogger

Hi my name is Kimberly Jones. I have one child who is 16 months old. From day one I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  I attempted to breastfeed her from the moment my daughter was born. Everything was going great for the first 24 hours, then the nurse gave her a pacifier (after my husband had written on the information card that we don't want to use a pacifier). My daughter refused to latch back onto the breast after that.

I asked the nurse for a pump and some bottle nipples so that I could feed my daughter. I continued to pump for her for 5 days. My husband went to the local Walmart to get me a nipple shield so I could get baby back on the breast. After I started feeling depressed from not being able to keep to my goal I posted to Facebook for help. One of my friends gave me information for a store on South Parkway named A Nurturing Moment. I called to speak to the lactation consultant so I could get help. She immediately told me to come in the next morning.

 I went to talk to Glenni Lorick the next day. She helped me with our latch issues and talked about more ways to work on getting her on the breast without the shield. I was so happy with our consult that within the next week my daughter was back on the breast without the shield. Glenni helped me continue breastfeeding! I was ready to give up and just start giving my daughter formula. I am glad she helped us achieve our breastfeeding goal.

Not only did I achieve our goal, but I also had to pump because I had an over supply. I pumped so much milk I had to store most of my milk in my husband's grandparent's deep freezer. I eventually couldn't store anymore there or at my house, so I had to donate it. I asked a few people who could use the milk and they sent me many names. I became a donor for a little boy that was only 1 month and 1 day younger than my daughter. My daughter is still being breastfed and will continue to be until she decides to stop. I love our bond and am not ready to stop yet. I will not let anyone tell me that I need to stop feeding because my daughter is a toddler.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Third Time Is a Charm for Breastfeeding Mom

By Carissa Clarke, guest blogger

My name is Carissa and I would love to share my story with you. I was 19 when I delivered my first born. She was whisked away to the NICU, and my Breastfeeding relationship was never established. Without support from family or the help of a lactation consultant I went home without any hope. I pumped every two hours for each feeding that followed. Never learning how to nurse, I continued to pump and bottle feed until she was 4 months old when I finally gave in and accepted formula.

     Fast forward a few years, and I gave birth to a beautiful boy. I was determined to breastfeed him. So, I joined our local La Leche League and started attending meetings. Thanks to the help of those wonderful women, and specifically Jessica Hall, I maintained a healthy nursing relationship with my son even while I worked and pumped. About 8 months in, I received a lot of pressure from family to stop nursing and I was currently 3 months pregnant with number three. So due to the pressure, pregnancy, and being a working mom of two, I stopped nursing and resorted to donor milk to finish his first year. Thanks to my freezer stash and donor milk he finished his first year solely on breast milk. I was thankful and proud to be able to provide that.

     A few months later I finally gave birth to my third and final baby. This time I knew what my goals were, I educated myself, and I surrounded myself with lots of local support. I joined Huntsville Mommy Milk Meet-up, Rocket City Sling Swap, and Cloth Diapering in Huntsville. These local groups and the people I met thru them that shared my interests and goals helped me thrive at being the best I could be. We ignored family judgment and social pressure to stop, and we have made it to a year of breastfeeding! Although I did experience one public shaming at Our local Madison County WIC office recently, we are still thriving in our breastfeeding journey.  We still enjoy our nursing sessions and hope to reach our new goal of 18 months and beyond.

   Please remember that you and your baby have a right to nurse in public, and you should never feel ashamed. Don't let anyone pressure you into giving up on what you know is best for your child. Thanks for letting me share my story, and good luck to you and your breastfeeding journey. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mom Transports 200 oz. of Breast Milk from Hawaii to Alabama

by Krystal Ness, Guest blogger

Hi, I'm Krystal!  I have two children (4 yr old girl and 1 yr old boy).  I was unable to breastfeed my first due to a low supply, so I was adamant about making it work with my second baby.  From the beginning things were phenomenal!  He latched on right away and for the majority of our nursing relationship things went smoothly.  I work outside of the home, so pumping was a daily activity for me (nurse when I was home and pump at work).

When my littlest was 10 months old I took a business trip for 2 full weeks.  I was so nervous about all things breastfeeding that I was literally nauseated while sitting at the gate waiting to board.  Would my baby take the frozen milk I pumped? Would we have enough for the full 2 weeks?  Would I be able to find the time and room to pump while away from my baby?  Would my supply go down because he's not latching?  How do I get my milk back home after I pump it?  This was no easy trip either.  I was going to Hawaii -- thousands of miles away from my little boy.

The trip out there was long, but after I got settled into my condo I got into a rhythm pumping before work, at work, and after work each day.  I felt like that was all I was doing.  The place I was working did not have a room that I could use so I either pumped in the bathroom (making sure I was sanitary) or I pumped in my rental car.  After nearly 2 weeks I had about 200 oz. of frozen milk.  During my trip I called FedEx and UPS to find out how to ship my milk.  I was so disappointed to find out that the quickest they could get it to Alabama was 48 hrs.  I thought there was no way to get my milk home.  I had spent countless hours during this trip pumping, remembering why I spent the time and effort to pump, and my hopes that he would be nourished with it were dashed.  I was in tears.  I couldn't fathom throwing away that much milk.

The only option I had was to check my milk with my luggage.  I remember being so incredibly nervous walking up to the check-in counter.  "Do you have any explosives, firearms, or flammable material in this cooler?" No.  Phew!  "If you don't mind me asking what is in this cooler?" Frozen Breastmilk.  My inner self winced as I wondered whether she would have a problem with this, but her response was as if it was completely normal that I was traveling with my own milk from Hawaii to Alabama.  I was home free.  The only thing I worried about after that point was whether or not my luggage would get lost.  Standing at the Huntsville Airport waiting for the cooler I heard the ding of the luggage belt.  Within 30 seconds I saw my box crest over the luggage conveyor!  It made it!  When I got home, the milk was still completely frozen.  Pumped with love in Hawaii.  :-)

During my trip, after determining I had to check a cooler, I searched online for the best way to accomplish packing, but I found very few resources.  I purchased a cooler on Amazon, meant specifically for shipping food.  I purchased techni-ice and blue gel icepacks.  I filled the cooler completely full with as little space as possible.  I taped (using duct tape) around the top and sides of the cooler to ensure the lid would stay shut.  I put the cooler in a box of the same size (mine came with the cooler).  I labeled the box BREASTMILK and added my address and phone number  in case something went wrong and then I put the whole package in another box.

While I was gone, we did actually end up using donated milk for about 3-4 days.  A close friend of mine who pumps for the Milk Bank brought some over for my husband when he was close to running out of my own stash.  She even offered to wet nurse him.  I have used every single means possible to feed my baby breastmilk.  Nursed, Pumped, and Donated Milk!  I wish I had these friends and community resources earlier with my first baby!

I want to share
my story in hopes that other working moms gain hope that even a business trip doesn't need to end a nursing relationship.  We truly can meet the needs of our children while accomplishing our own dreams.