Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Donee

Our story is a little long.

I am Becky. I am a first-time mama to a sweet boy named Linus. He was born peacefully into the world on October 25th, 2011. We had a homebirth, and he was born right into my arms on our family bed. He was 8 pounds 13.5 ounces. A good, solid little guy.  I hoped and planned for the birth that would give us the best start to breastfeeding possible. We had that birth. He latched on perfectly within the first hour, and we spent the first 24 hours skin-to-skin enjoying each other. Everything was as it should be.

(Our first nursing session)

In the early days, Linus nursed constantly, but he never seemed satisfied. He would cry, fidget, fuss, pull on and off frantically, and finally fall asleep at the breast. My heart felt something was wrong from the early days, but it was not until day 10 of his life, when he had finally lost 16% of his birth weight, that our midwives set up an emergency referral with the pediatrician at the hospital to get blood work done.  They told us we needed to start supplementing ASAP. In fact, she would not leave our house until we had supplement coming.

(Day 4)

I had suspected for a while that this would become our reality, after I watched my boy lose more and more weight. He got so skinny. I knew donor milk was the preferred option of the World Health Organization long before I even became pregnant. I knew it was the only option I could live with when there was donor milk available to us.  I called Kim, asked where we could get milk, and the milk started to flow in. We were so lucky to be a part of such a generous, loving mama-community. Regina is blessed in that way. Ironically, I had wanted a pump while I was pregnant for the express purpose of pumping milk to donate. That is how far away our new reality seemed to me. I never anticipated we would have insurmountable issues. We picked up milk and an SNS (supplemental nursing system) and a hospital-grade pump that night.

(4 Weeks)

The weeks ticked by, and my supply increased, but never enough to sustain Linus on my own. We went through so many herbs, drugs, tinctures, and diagnoses (he also had a tongue tie and lip tie that went undiagnosed and untreated until 5 weeks) in an attempt to increase my supply. I am still on many of those so as to maintain what supply I do have. It turns out, after all of this, that I have insufficient glandular tissue (IGT). My breasts did not grow while I was pregnant or in the postpartum. Or rather, one did, but not to the extent it should have. I never got engorged when my milk came in. I honestly had no idea if my milk had come in or not when the midwife asked.

When Linus was almost 6 weeks old, we moved to Montreal for my husband's work, leaving behind the supportive mama community of Regina. Kim has continued to pump for us and collect milk in Saskatchewan. Another two dear mamas in Saskatoon and Montreal are also pumping for us, and a sweet mama in Pennsylvania has been searching for, collecting, and shipping milk for us, as well. We are so lucky, and we have been lucky to find mamas with freezer stashes of milk who have donated to us, as well. We have received milk from about 18 women and their babies so far.

(Valentine's Day - 3.5 months with
a clean bill of health)

So here we are 3 months later, still supplementing (100% at the breast with the SNS) 1/3-1/2 of his daily needs. I want to raise awareness about donor milk: the benefits, our reasons, the costs associated with it, and our struggles with finding and shipping milk.


  1. Love you and little Linus so much.

  2. Love you, too, sweet lady! We can't thank you enough for all you've done and are doing for us. xoxo