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BREAST­MILK TO DO­NATE

I have a five-month-old baby girl who is thriv­ing, chubby and a pic­ture of good health. She is ex­clu­sively breast­fed and see­ing her grow so healthy and strong, know­ing it is be­cause of my milk, has made me so pas­sion­ate about breast­feed­ing. Ever since the day my milk came in I’ve had an over­sup­ply. Many morn­ings I’ve wo­ken up in pud­dles of milk. I even had a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant say that I could feed triplets!

I read in Your Baby (Sept/ Oct 2015) about be­com­ing a milk donor and I got in­spired. I went and bought an elec­tronic breast pump and felt bet­ter about the ex­pense know­ing my milk would save lives. Now each morn­ing I pump an ex­tra feed which I freeze and give to ithemba Lethu, an or­gan­i­sa­tion in Dur­ban that cares for or­phaned and aban­doned ba­bies. They told me ev­ery drop counts and that my do­nated milk could save a vul­ner­a­ble baby’s life.

Build­ing up a frozen milk sup­ply hasn’t been easy. I was dev­as­tated to throw out litres of milk when our power went out and my milk thawed. I started pump­ing again but hurt my back and needed anti-in­flam­ma­tory tablets, which are not rec­om­mended when breast­feed­ing. But I’ve per­sisted through th­ese chal­lenges and I’m now in a good rhythm and slowly build­ing up my sup­ply again. I’m hop­ing to con­tinue for many months, be­cause I know my milk can make a dif­fer­ence.

WHEN MOTH­ER­HOOD DOESN’T COME EASY

No story or piece of ad­vice can pre­pare you fully for moth­er­hood. I was told to get as much sleep as pos­si­ble while preg­nant but that goes right out the win­dow af­ter birth. Quite frankly I can deal with the sleep­less nights. It’s the cry­ing and not know­ing the cause, the tak­ing him out in pub­lic and won­der­ing if to­day is go­ing to be a cranky day, the get­ting ready hours be­fore sched­ule and then still ar­riv­ing late to the desti­na­tion, the los­ing qual­ity time with the hus­band, the messy house filled with baby odds and ends, peo­ple want­ing to hold a cute baby but then hand­ing him right back to mom (not dad!) when his nappy needs to be changed, the fear of hurt­ing him dur­ing a sim­ple ac­tiv­ity such as bathing and of course the con­stant fear of chok­ing.

I read the books, I watched the shows and lis­tened to my mom friends and yet was still over­whelmed.

For some, hav­ing chil­dren is a happy ex­pe­ri­ence. For me it be­came life-chang­ing, emo­tion­ally drain­ing and a strug­gle ev­ery day even though my hus­band and I planned to have him and we were elated when the preg­nancy test was pos­i­tive. Af­ter birth I be­gan to have ugly thoughts and felt like a fail­ure when things didn’t go ac­cord­ing to the books. I even feel at times that I have post­na­tal de­pres­sion. Some­times I feel like I’m go­ing to lose my mind. I know God chose me to be a mom for a rea­son. My pre­cious boy is only two months old and I know it will get bet­ter. I know I’m not alone. An amaz­ing hus­band, fam­ily and friends make it a lit­tle eas­ier each day. And when my boy smiles the worry, anx­i­ety and pain all fades away even for just that mo­ment.

I hope my ex­pe­ri­ence en­cour­ages some­one. It’s not easy but I be­lieve it is worth it. We are cho­sen.

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