From the moment we found out we were chosen to be parents, my research began. We had waited for over 6 years for a baby and when our day finally came, I wanted our child to have the best of the best. I called my friends and asked about the best diapers, best bottles, best soaps, etc. I was a first time Mom and so all of this was foreign to me. I researched cribs, creams, teethers, you name it! I even pediatrician shopped and interviewed different pedi doctors until I found the right one for us! When the time came for my baby shower, and it was time to register, and I knew exactly what I wanted. We went down every isle clicking and scanning away. When we went down the food isle, I realized there was one thing I didn’t research.... baby formula. It hadn’t dawned on my until then, that my baby wasn’t going to have the option to have breast milk. That really bothered me.
My husband and I both have careers in the medical field so we are familiar with the many benefits breast milk has over baby formula. We weren’t opposed to formula, but if it were possible, we wanted our son to have breast milk. We know there are many nutritional benefits & antibody benefits that formula just didn’t have. I kept thinking, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”
So my research begins. In my research, I read that adoptive mothers can sometimes breast feed their adopted babies if they took a hormone called domperidone. As soon as I heard this I was at my doctor's office as fast as I could so I could start taking the drug and get a milk supply going. At the doctor's office, I was told that this drug is no longer approved in the United States and if I wanted it, I would have to get it from Canada. One of the side effects of the drug was possible heart problems and having a history of heart problems in my family, we didn’t want to risk it. I read about certain herbal teas and creams that supposedly induced lactation and those were a dead end also. By this point, I had several friends helping me in my research. One friend found a study on induced lactation by stimulation. She loaned me an electric pump and I let the stimulation begin. I painfully “pumped” several times a day for weeks. I even took it to work with me and tried on my breaks! However, sadly it was another failed attempt.
My aunt was the first person that told me about milk donors. She had been a milk donor her self to a local milk bank when she had her son. She told me how some people just have a huge oversupply and either “pump and dump” or donate to milk banks. I called around to local milk banks and asked how much it would cost to purchase it. I didn’t realize that breast milk is pretty much liquid GOLD. I could buy it, however it would cost me $4.50 per OZ! I thought it was CRAZY that they charged that much for this milk when it was in fact DONATED to them. However, it is thoroughly screened and that cost money and then its donated to hospitals. It is given to premie babies and is in very high demand. I’m not a rich woman so that wasn’t possible.
At first, the thought of accepting another Mother’s milk was a little weird to me. I didn’t know if it was safe and it was so foreign to me. I vaguely remembered learning about wet nurses back in the old days so I knew it was something that has been around for decades. Even if I did want to receive donor milk, where would I get it? Who would I ask? How would I know it was safe? It’s just not something I felt comfortable asking pregnant or nursing Mom’s for.
However, when it came to my child, I was willing to get over my pride and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.That next Sunday, I started taking “inventory” at church ; ) Who was pregnant or breast feeding? Who did I trust enough to trust my child's nutritional needs with. I kept thinking of one lady in particular. She was pregnant and due right around the time my son was going to be born. After a few days, I mustered up to guts to just call her. I had to do it. When I first asked her, there was a very awkward silence and then she said she had to think about it. I didn’t realize that some mother’s find breast feeding to be a very intimate thing thats special just between mother and baby. I wasn’t wanting someone to breast feed my baby, just donate to me if they had extra.
After a few days went by and I didn’t hear from her I felt it was another dead end. I truly felt that I tried EVERY attempt to find breast milk for my baby and feeling very defeated, I was ready to accept my limitations. That night at work, I was working alone in an operating room and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I kept thinking to my self, IF I ever gave birth to a child, I would do whatever it took to find an adoptive mother and offer to donate to her baby.
I was feeling like I was already starting out parenthood on the wrong foot because I couldn’t provide something for my child that to me was sooo important for him to have. I guess that sadness showed outwardly also. One of my co-workers noticed me in my sad mood and asked what was wrong. Feeling kind of embarrassed to tell her, I did it anyways. She completely understood my feelings. She had 2 boys that were both breast fed and she too had a passion for breast milk. I told her how if I was ever to miraculously become pregnant how I would be very compelled to donate to another mother/baby in need because I knew exactly how it felt to not have that option for my child.
Then she said something that I didn’t even think of. She said, “Well Candace, maybe someone feels that same way right now and you just haven't found her yet.” She had a point! But where would I ever find this generous person? So we turned to the internet. Have jokingly, have serious she suggested I looked on craiglist! She said you can find pretty much anything on craigslist ; ) So just for the heck of it we did and guess what, right there on the screen in HUGE bold letters, there was an ad that said “DONATING BREAST MILK”. My jaw dropped!