“All I Wanted…”

“Gahhhh!” “But whyyy???” “Nooo!” The moment of agitation and defeat when your seemingly innocuous plans have been thwarted by your own offspring.

“All I wanted was to…” it could anything: nap, pee in peace, make one phone call without stopping to referee or assist small humans, sleep, prepare a meal without having to drop everything to feed or wipe someone, exercise, have just one bedtime when everyone stays in their bed on the first try, arrive on time, have one drama-free playdate, pump, sit on my butt for five straight minutes, poop, wear clothes without stains, drink a hot beverage at its intended temperature, etc. Some days the plan change is easier to accept than others. Then there are those days when one untimely potty joke or one predigested milk deluge is beyond your patience level. You’re tapped out, the well is dry… and they can sense it.

As if driven by predatory instincts, our cherished offspring will claw, tantrum, and spew us into submission. Then, when we mourn the shattered want before us, they look at us with their saucer-like eyes in inocent bewilderment. As if they had no part in our mommy meltdown.

You have been defeated. Perhaps tomorrow you will be victorious… perhaps.

First Kid vs. Third Kid

My parenting has changed drastically from having my first child to now with my third.

Naps-

#1: In the early weeks, I remained completely still as she napped on me multiple times each day. Had to pee? Hold it! Had to sneeze? Don’t even think about it! Later on, our schedule all day, every day revolved around her 2-naps per day schedule. She always napped in her crib. Plans would be rearranged if she overslept.

#3: He may catch a morning nap in the carseat or Ergo, but it’s not guaranteed; the afternoon nap happens at home but he will be stirred if he over-sleeps. We’ve got places to be!

Nursing-

#1: I hid in another room to nurse at family gatherings, even when she was cluster-feeding. I pumped to bottle feed in public. We always had a suction bulb nearby just in case. I feared nursing in public.

#3: He nurses in the Ergo multiple times per day. He stays latched as I chase after #1 & #2… I suspect I could latch him on without the carrier and he’d be able to dangle their by way of suction

Germs-

#1: Everybody had to scrub up before touching her. I attached hand sanitizer to her stroller. Any sniffles and you were banned. I feared older kids sharing their schoolyard cooties with her. No sitting on the floor without a blanket. Pacifiers were thoroughly cleansed if they touched anything but her mouth. Bottles were sterlized.

#3: Germs boost the immune system.

Sleep-

#1: I forced myself to sit up and stay awake for every single night feeding. I fretted over every sleep grunt or hiccup. I was entirely certain I’d never sleep again.

#3: He nurses in our bed while I try to catch some shut-eye. I’m still not sleeping.

Development-

#1: I documented her every movement in a journal. I wrote multi-page letters to her biweekly. I read “What to Expect the First Year.” I encouraged her physical development with great anticipation. We attended baby gymnastics classes and mommy-and-me swim. (She didn’t regularly walk until 19-months any way.)

#3: I have maybe two passages written in his baby book (note to self: try to remember when he got his first tooth… he’s on tooth #4 now.) He’ll walk when he walks and then I’m screwed.

Clothing-

#1: Everything was new and coordinated. Getting her dressed was fun. I changed her multiple times a day, completely redressing her every time her outfit had a smear, dribble, or spot on it.

#3: Any top + any pants = dressed. Unless he pooped up his back, wipe the onesie with a baby wipe and keep it rolling, everything is hand-me-downs anyway.

Food Introduction-

#1: It was a momentous occasion to introduce solid foods. Each mealtime was an event. Each food was painstakingly introduced with cautious assessment of possible allergic reaction.

#3: He hated purees. He eats what we eat.

Putting Baby Down-

#1: I would place her in her Exersaucer or baby swing, ensuring she was reasonably pleased before I tended to whatever duties required me to put her down.

#3: I put him on the floor.

Toys-

#1: Most of her toys were new. All were thoroughly washed and were sanitized if she ever got the sniffles.

#3: I maybe threw some of his cloth toys in the wash during a nesting frenzy before he was born… I think?? He plays with his own toys, as well as #1 and #2’s toys, but prefers trying to tear apart the shoe basket.

 

Life is nuttier with 3 kids, but it’s easier not being so caught up in the first-time-mom worry. That’s just exhausting! You have to live it to learn it.

Milk Donation: Labor of Love

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780oz (6 gallons) of breast milk for donation

Milk donation… it’s an ancient practice to share one’s breast milk with another’s child. However, somewhere along the way it faded into a fray movement… a suspiciously regarded practice associated with pachuli-scented hippies and cloth-diapering baby-wearers. I am none of those things (I rest somewhere around a 4 on a 1-10 scale of hippiness). Though, I do wear #3 as a matter of survival since I have yet to sprout a third arm. Mainly, I am a believer in sharing one’s excess with those in need.

When I sort through my pantry and donate boxed and canned goods to my local the local food pantry, no one bats an eye. When I donate old housewares and clothes to charity, no one flinches. When I donated my hair, others asked for details so they could follow suit. When one gives blood or agrees to be an organ donor, society regards the act as socially responsible. However, when people hear I donate my surplus breast milk — 20oz daily that accumulates, unused, in my chest freezer because my littlest eats straight from the tap — to a mom who cannot make enough, despite her phenomenal efforts, people get twitchy.

Moms of young children who have nursed and/or pumped breast milk are generally impressed and express interest. Individuals who have not nursed or were brought up when formula companies were heavily marketing their product as being “better than nature” often respond in disgust, trepidation, and/or bewilderment. Honestly, though, I don’t care what others opinions are on the topic (though I wish for wider acceptance and awareness, of course); their opinions won’t hinder my donations.

“Why don’t they just use formula?” Some quip. Formula isn’t always a feasible option. Some babies can’t or won’t drink formula, and some families simply do not prefer to use formula (just as some families choose not to breast feed.) Often, babies who are sensitive to dairy ingested by their breast milk provider also react to soy-based formulas. In these circumstances — if the mother cannot produce enough breast milk or is waiting for dairy to leave her own system so she can provide her own breast milk for her child without causing him/her pain, or if the dairy-sensitive child’s guardian is not a lactating female — a milk donor who does not eat dairy products is the route to go. As a dairy-free donor, I donated thousands of ounces to nourish such children.

“Isn’t it risky?” People ask, citing concerns over disease and bacteria. Milk-sharing is an informed risk, like consuming raw seafood or eating bake sale goods. Donors who have been screened by milk banks — milk banks are an option for some recipients to use as a means to receive donated milk, though it would be costly and not all qualify — complete medical screening akin to blood donor screening. Milk banks take a further step by pasteurizing the donor milk. Milk recipients can pasteurize milk at home, if desired. However, many pathogens are eliminated when the milk is frozen, as is the standard method for donor milk to be delivered to recipients.

“You can’t trust people; how do you know the milk you’re receiving is safe?” If you receive donated breast milk — which is different from purchased breast milk — you are being given breast milk from a mother who (except in cases of infant loss) is providing that same milk for her own child. That mother is providing you with milk she had either originally pumped and frozen with the intent of feeding it to her own child, or she is pumping the breast milk purely for donation in addition to nursing her own child. Each pumping session takes 15-45 minutes, this does not count cleansing the pump parts or bagging and freezing the milk. The mother is doing this without receiving any repayment and often loses money due to milk bag and pump parts costs. It would be incredibly bizarre for the donated (not purchased) milk you receive to be anything but pure breast milk, pumped with the loving intention of nourishing a child.

“It’s body fluid. Eww!” First of all, breast milk is not equal to blood, stool, or urine. Breast milk is created solely to nourish a child; it is food. Breast milk is filled with antibodies and has amazing antibacterial properties, thus enabling it to be surprisingly resistant to spoilage. Cow’s milk is just as much a bodily fluid as human breast milk.

The main thing to remember when seeking a donor or when becoming a breast milk donor is: open, honest communication. Recipients should feel free to ask potential donors about medical history, dietary habits, drug and alcohol intake, etc. Most donors welcome and expect these questions, as long as they are asked graciously and respectfully of course. Similarly, donors should feel free to ask why the milk is being sought, how old the child is, etc.

Breast milk donation

Bagging 320oz of frozen breast milk

Oversupply, despite its downfalls (clogged ducts, risks of mastitis, engorgment discomfort, frequent pumping, etc.) is a gift for which I never would have asked but for which I am immensely grateful. I cherish being granted the opportunity to help nourish another’s child, to have my oversupply make sense considering others struggle with production, to have amazing families become a part of my life by way of milk-sharing. Milk-sharing has enabled me to turn an otherwise bothersome medical anomaly into an immensely rewarding service.

If you know of anyone interested in milk donation, whether as a recipient or as a donor, I am more than happy to be a resource. Milk-sharing is a fulfilling way of sharing love and excess with others. Aiding others in beginning their own milk donation journey is an undertaking I adore. Share on!

Moo: How I Pump

“You have 3 under 5. How do you have time to pump milk for donation?” It’s a question I get all the time. The answer: I make time.

I’m a type-A planner with an affinity for routine. I’m also incredibly stubborn and goal-oriented. So, when I tell myself I am going to pump three times a day, I pump three times a day.

I wake up between 5:45 and 6:15, depending on how much sleep I got the night before, and I pump as the house sleeps. After lunch and once the boys are down for naps, I pump again. During this time, my 4.5-year-old plays independently. Finally, once the kids are in bed and I’ve showered, I pump while my husband and I catch up on our favorite shows.

Routine and planning are how I am able to pump daily and donate to my “milk baby.” Now it’s just a part of our family rhythm, like bedtime stories and dinnertime tantrums.