There are a few things in my life that I’m passionate about. One of those things is the gift a mother can give her baby in the form of nursing him/her. The last thing I want to do is use my blog as a means of criticism or attack, so if you’re not able to breastfeed or if you choose to bottle feed instead, I’m in 100% support of you as well! All forms of motherhood comes with it’s challenges. But if you ARE able to nurse your little one and you choose to make sacrifices so you’re able to continue nursing – OR if you’re on the fence about whether or not you will nurse, how you’re going to make it work with your schedule, or you’re trying to figure out what to do if you travel for work – please keep reading.
Since I’ve started to help my sister tell her story we’ve received numerous comments and stories from women who were the recipients of donor breastmilk. I wasn’t expecting the kind of reaction we got after sharing some of her images on Facebook, so I asked her permission to tell her story on my blog with the hopes of reaching even more women who have stories to tell. I don’t normally photograph maternity, newborns, or babies anymore since announcing my move into full time wedding photography. However, for my sister, her husband, and their precious little baby girl I will be making exceptions. And I always will.
They have an incredible story. And I’m deeply thankful that she agreed to guest-blog with me today!!
One Loving Mother’s Journey of Her First Nursing Experience
“When I was pregnant, the only thing I knew about breastfeeding was that it was something I wasn’t going to allow myself to give up on. I made a deal with my husband that he couldn’t let me give up, no matter what. I had a few mommy friends add me to some nursing and pumping groups where I learned early on how much of a struggle breastfeeding could be. I read about all the incredible benefits breastmilk could provide and was determined to try my hardest to make this work for us. I never knew that mama’s donated breastmilk. I mean, maybe I knew it but I never knew it was something so many mommy’s did. I know women who exclusively pump (which is HARD work!) for so many different reasons, poor latch, cleft lip/palate, lip and tongue ties, preemies, twins, and so many other reasons. I know mama’s who have tried everything under the sun to increase their milk supply, “eat this, drink that, increase your calories, take this supplement, don’t do that, do this instead.” When people say breast milk is liquid gold, it really is (there are SO many uses for it, look it up). And the saying “don’t cry over spilled milk” was definitely not quoted from a mama who breastfeeds. I’m thankful and blessed for our nursing and pumping journey.
I’m thankful for our struggles (we still have them) and for the opportunity to be able to provide milk for not only my own child but for a few other mommies and babies across the country. I started pumping a few weeks before I had to go back to work. Before I knew it, our freezer stash was growing at a steady rate. My husband came home one day from work and announced it was time for us to get a deep freezer. I knew it was time to make my first donation but I had no idea where to start. I posted in some of my breastfeeding groups (“Nursing and Pumping Mama’s”, “The Milky Way” and my personal favorite “Dairy Queens”) to find out where to start. I was directed to Human Milk for Human Babies, each state has one. I posted how much milk I had to donate, that I have a cup or two of coffee a day (because I need it!) and that I’m a nondrinker. Immediately, I had several private messages for mama’s who wanted my milk. How could I give them all my milk? I didn’t have enough. I went with the first mama that contacted me. She drove over two hours to meet me and pick up my milk and then over two hours back home.
I spoke with her briefly as we made the drop about how she just didn’t produce enough for her babe and how she was so grateful for people like me. I empathized with her. My heart hurt for her. I can only imagine her struggles seeking donor after donor to provide her babe breastmilk. I knew I wanted to keep helping mama’s just like her.
Since I have donated to 3 other mama’s, one in Chicago while I was traveling for business and two others who again, drove hours to meet me. I never felt like I had much purpose in life but I know this, I was made to be a mama. I was given a gift to be able to provide for my child and to be able to help provide for other babies too. There is no end in sight for our journey and I can only hope that we can continue to make life a little easier for someone else along the way.” – Andrea Estep
We pray that this post has encouraged you in some way! Even if that encouragement comes in the form of wanting to tell your own story. There are so many women out there who are in need of breastmilk for their infants, due to one reason or another. Personally, my body only produced enough milk to feed our daughter. I never responded well to a pump either. I tried and tried to build up a freezer stash for her in case I was out of town or needed to be away for work. But, for 25 whole months I was her only source – we just couldn’t do bottles. For this, and for many other reasons I can’t even begin to express how proud I am of my sister for what she’s doing. This is hard work! Nursing and pumping can be a difficult thing to provide your own little one with nourishment! And here she is, helping mom’s and babies all over the nation.
If you have a story of your own you’d like to share, please let us know! Help us encourage other moms and moms-to-be in their nursing journeys. We’d love to hear from you!!