Where are you taking my milk mommy?
Last week I had the opportunity to go to Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank and donated 11 L of milk. While there I got to see the pasteurization process and meet the awesome ladies running the place. Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank is an amazing organization, accepting milk from western Canada for pasteurization and processing and then sending to babies in need back out to hospitals in western Canada. They work hard to provide the most vulnerable babies with the best possible nutrition when their mothers cannot. I am very proud that I can do my little part for this very worthy charity.
The milk that I have stored at home represents 4 months of hard work and struggle. From the moment Isabelle was born I started pumping. Each bottle of milk represents the heartache of not being able to feed my baby when she was born and the physical aches inflicted on my body. They represent all the weird wardrobe malfunctions. One day I pumped behind a curtain in my underwear because the dress I chose could not accommodate my pump. I wore sports bras with holes over the nipples for 4 months. Not a sexy look, let me tell you.
After we got home, each pumped bag represents the constant fight with my darling baby to try to give her fortified breast milk. It represents all our struggles with trying to help Isabelle gain weight. I spent all my spare time sitting with my pump. No shower was taken out of enjoyment but always out of trying to ensure I don’t get blocked ducts or mastitis. The constant change of routine meant that my boobs never felt settled. No, there aren’t any chickens or beef under there. Just more milk.
Four months of pumping while also feeding and taking care of an infant first at the NICU and then at home was so tough. It was so frustrating when Isabelle rejected her bottles but also a relief when we finally gave up. Finally deciding to bring the milk into the bank meant that we had produced more milk than Izzy will use in a year. This hard work gave me an amazing opportunity to do a small part for vulnerable babies.
A while ago I took a women in engineering workshop about self promotion. One subject that really resonated with me was how women are really bad at accepting compliments. For example when the boss says “good work on the project” a women is apt to respond “oh it was more the team than anything I contributed”. I am particularly guilty of this. I am terrible at accepting a compliment or gratitude. I actually blush and stammer and say all the wrong things. Often when I get a compliment or someone thanks me, I make a self deprecating joke or change the subject. Even when a friend says thank you for something I did I often will say “oh it was nothing” rather than just “you’re welcome”. When I was at the milk bank and the ladies were thanking me for bringing the milk, I just brushed it off:”oh, Isabelle rejected the bottle anyway” as if it wasn’t an epic triumph that I had a huge store of breast milk at home.
It actually took me some time to even decide to write this post because it felt like I was being a braggart, or that by writing this I might make mothers who had trouble pumping or producing milk feel bad. It also felt like nothing really to be proud of because to be fair we were pumping with the intentions of feeding all the milk to Isabelle. She just had different ideas. But as a mom, and as as a woman, I need to stand proud of my accomplishments. There are so many reasons for it. Women need to promote themselves so that the world has a better understanding of what we are capable of. Women need to promote the causes that they support so that others gain awareness. Women need to provide a good role model for their daughters so that they know they can achieve great things, and to their sons so they know their peers of an opposite gender are just as capable. There should be no shame in doing an awesome job. We should all support each other’s achievements, or at the very least be proud of our own.
So I wrote this post. I am letting you all know I did this great thing and I am proud of myself and the hard work I put into this. And that even though it was tough because it felt a bit like a failure to admit that I won’t be giving this milk to our own daughter, it felt so amazing to help these vulnerable babies. And you know what, it feels pretty awesome to write about it too.