What Does It Take To Feed Another Woman's Baby?Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Today I am so happy … no wait, I'm mean honoured … to be able to share the thoughts of an incredible woman.
I saw Corinne’s story in a community for women who have been a part of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project where she was sharing the news that she had just sent her last shipment of breast milk to her surrogate baby and was stoked that a chance conversation meant that going forward, her expressed milk would be used to help the recovery of a methadone addicted baby* being adopted by her friend.
I'm going to ask you to go back and just re-read that last paragraph because … just … wow.
So while surrogacy is way, WAY outside my sphere of experience I really wanted to find out more about this amazing lady, and what it means to her to donate her breast milk:
Would you like to share a little about why you chose to donate milk? Why was it so important? What kept you going?
I sent my milk to Surro-baby for about 6 months and knew that even after they were done receiving milk, I still wanted to pump for weight loss purposes. I decided that if I was going to pump I couldn't just throw it down the drain when there were babies out there that could use it! I was resolved to donate my milk to a NICU and when my friend told me her adopted baby was due in 3 weeks and would be in the NICU I was so excited that I could actually help this baby! I will drop the milk off for her in 2 weeks and she will have about 600oz to last her until the little girl is out of the NICU.
That's such an amazing gift. Was the decision to pump afterwards always part of surrogacy for you?
I had always planned on pumping afterwards, yes. The parents told me a few months in that they were interested in the breast milk and I was happy to give it to them. They bought the supplies for me and a freezer which helped a lot.
Did you find it came easily for you? I know some mamas struggle to express even when they can nurse just fine.
It was easy for me because my 4 year old son never latched as a baby. We struggled for 2 weeks with a consultant and the kid just would not do it. So I pumped exclusively for 9 months for him. I think my body remembered how to let down for a machine again. The sound of the pump triggers a let-down ... even seeing the pump will give me a let-down. Plus my daughter who is 2 likes to snuggle while I pump. That helps too.
My son was exactly the same. That must be so lovely to be able to give your children that wider view of normality and how amazing the human body is. Have they reacted well to seeing you go through this journey?
They have! I explained that I was watching my friend’s baby in my tummy, and helping her grow, and when she was done growing I would give her back to her mommy and daddy. My son loved saying hi to her in my tummy and held her and kissed her in the hospital. It was a perfect end for them. My kids didn't think twice about it after I explained it to them that way.
Children are so open minded and generous aren't they? So what is your plan for this new little pickle? Will you be visiting her / donating long term?
They really are. Well she will live close by and I see this friend often so I will probably see her as often as I see my friend. I still plan on pumping another 3 months at least and she is welcome to that milk. After that I will probably stop depending on future surrogacy plans.
How does it make you feel? What keeps you going? I mean, I know why breast milk is important to me when it comes to feeding my baby, but what keeps that commitment alive in you?
I don't know really. I am a care giver by nature. A nurturer. Always have been. If someone needed help or was sad I was always first to comfort and help. So as a mother when I think about babies who need this milk, or who can benefit greatly from its properties I can't help but to step in and donate. It’s like it’s a part of me, this need to give and help. I think that's why surrogacy is so easy for me as well. It’s the best feeling ever to help another, I feel like I have a selfless purpose again and that makes me feel whole.
On a practical level, how often do you pump? How long? Do you eat ant differently or take any supplements?
I pump every 4 hours, round the clock. It takes me about 10 mins each time and an additional 10 to clean and sanitize the supplies each time. I cut milk out of my diet for Surro-baby because it was making her gassy, but now I am drinking milk again. I ate mostly organic but that was because Surro-baby’s mom, my friend, had groceries sent to my house every other week and she sent me awesome food.
Round the CLOCK?! What sort of pump do you use?
I pump at 11 and then set an alarm for 3:30, and the kids wake me at 7:30am so I pump again then. I use a Medela pump which has lasted me 3 years and is still going strong.
Corinne has written a blog about her incredible surrogacy journey from deciding to become a surrogate to the healing after the baby was born and their trip to Disneyland as a celebration of her life. You can find it here
* no judgement on the mama, she broke her back in a car accident and chose to not abort the baby when she found out in recovery she was pregnant. She has made the hard, but honest decision that she cannot care for her baby right now.