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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.