Society tells us we should be able to have, do, be it all. This could not be more true than in motherhood – where mommy wars are fought every day and no one ever truly wins. But what happens when you stop competing with other moms around you, and you surround yourself with moms who support you? You find your tribe.
I am a mom with PCOS and mammary hypoplasia. I have insufficient glandular tissue (a form of primary lactation failure). While I can optimize my breastfeeding experience, my body can not physically produce all the milk I need to feed my children. I quickly discovered this when my first child was born and he lost 23% of his body weight. I was devastated. I pumped with my first child, took galactogogues and supplemented with formula for the first 6 months of his life, and then he went to formula only. He is perfect.
With my second child I was more prepared for what to expect. He nursed and was supplemented at breast with donor milk when it was available and formula when it was not. He is perfect.
With my third I had many months to prepare, and by the time she arrived I had a freezer stocked with donor milk. She turned one year old on Wednesday, and she was on breastmilk for the full year. She, too, is perfect. (Let’s hope her smile stays sweet and not creepy like her brothers in this picture.)
This story is not about the method in which my children were fed. They were all fed differently, and yet the resounding lesson is that I could not have done any of this alone. I need my husband who made supplementers and changed more diapers than I care to count. I need my family – especially my mom who stocked my refrigerator after surgery so that I could take care of myself to better take care of my children. I need my friends – who brought me lunch and glimpses of sanity that seem so fleeting during maternity leave. I needed my doctors, lactation consultants, and the amazing moms who donated their own breastmilk to help me feed my children.
Elizabeth turned one last week, and I celebrated by bringing together some of these amazing women who helped us meet our breastfeeding goal.
These women are kind, supportive, and selfless. They did not judge me or make me feel less. They helped me to meet the goals I had for my family. And I will forever be grateful for that.
The lady in the middle is Shellie. She is sweet and funny. She is a teacher and she taught me to not be afraid to ask for breastmilk. We were introduced through mutual friends, and she donated milk to my daughter. She also snuck off before I got a photo of her alone, but I’ll track her down later. 😉
This is Samantha. Samantha was the first mom I got breastmilk from and she gave me over 700 ounces!
This is Annie. Annie works with me and brought me milk at work.
This is Holly. Holly donated milk to me and helped me get in contact with Annie about milk.
While not all of my milk donors were able to make the photo, I do hope they read this. I hope that they know I will forever be grateful for the difference they made in my life and the lives of my children. Should you ever need anything, I would be honored to be a part of your tribe.