Thursday, May 9, 2013

Evelynn's Milk

So since I just briefly mentioned in my last post about how much I donated when I was pumping Evelynn's breastmilk and donating it, I thought I would finally finish up the post I started many, many, many months ago and never published.

A little recap

I first decided I wanted to donate Evelynn's breastmilk while I was still in the hospital and knew that Evelynn wasn't going to make it. I knew my milk was going to be coming in, as it did within a day or two of Liam's passing, and felt that it would be a wonderful thing to do in her memory. That if she couldn't have her milk then at least it could go to another baby(s) that were in need.

Through the Nursing Boutique at the hospital I was set up with the Mothers Milk Bank. They were not able to take my milk the first week or two because of the medications I had been on from the c-section, but a lady on Craigslist was in need of breastmilk for her baby, so I was able to donate about 30 ounces to her right away, and then once I stopped donating to the milk bank because of the meds I had needed to get on from this rash that I had developed, she was able to take that milk as well. The Milk Bank was very strict on donated milk if medications had been taken because most of the milk goes to fragile NICU patients that can't handle it like older healthier babies can.

At first I remember it being very painful, but I was determined to do this for my daughter. I got help with it, it took a lot of time and dedication, but eventually I was pumping about 6 times a day, about every 3-4 hours. It was time consuming for sure, but at the same time it was a time in my day that I had to stop and sit and just be in that moment. I would think about Evelynn and all the babies this was helping. At first my daily pumpings would total around 15oz, then up to 20-25oz, and at the end I would get approx. 30-35oz. It would equal about a gallon every 3-4 days. Sometimes I would look down at my boobs and just think "these things are fricken amazing!"

I pumped at home, in the car, at the airport, and in an outhouse and camp shed on a camping trip. I wasn't shy.

I wrote about that stupid rash I got many months ago, last fall now, when I first got it. It was because of that, that I had to stop donating because of the steroids I was on. I needed to stop anyway because I needed my body to get back into pregnancy mode for our IVF cycle, but it was super hard giving it up. I would cry just thinking about giving it up. This was the last real connection I had with my daughter. This was her milk. It was only here because it was meant for her, and when it dried up it would be gone.

There is also other things of course that mad me not want to quit. I almost felt like a pumping junky. I had crazy amounts of energy since I had started pumping, at least I attributed it all to the pumping. I never had that kind of energy after Liam passed. I know it was a different baby, it was a different season, different everything, but I believed it had to be from the hormones producing the milk. Not to mention how much weight I lost. I was afraid that once I stop pumping I would lose that energy and then just get very depressed and not want to do anything. The energy kept me busy doing projects, which kept my mind distracted.

When I did finally stop about mid last September, I was right and I lost that energy and I became very depressed and my anger took over. But we don't need to get into that ugly time in my life again. If you want to know then read my posts from that time.

Here is a copy of the 2 emails from the lady I was working with at the Milk Bank when I was finished donating

Hi Becky,
I thought you might want to know where your 16 gallons of milk went:
3 different hospitals in Denver, including a children’s hospital
2 hospitals in Portland, OR, including a children’s hospital
2 hospitals in Missouri - one in Kansas City and one in St. Louis
A hospital in Colorado Springs, CO
A hospital in Grand Junction, CO
6 outpatient infants, including 2 sets of twins, one adopted baby, and one baby who was born severely prematurely who is now home but has multiple chronic health problems and is still on a ventilator.
This is impressive, especially since each hospital on the list takes large volumes of milk to use mostly in NICUs and a little in the healthy baby nurseries.
and the other email
I agree, it is so important to remember the incredible number of babies your daughter’s milk helped. Your total volume donated is 2,051 oz, or 16 gallons. That is an amazing number! The Milk Bank, the babies you helped, and the families of those babies are all grateful for the effort you put in to donating your precious milk. What a beautiful legacy.

I’m going to hand your chart over to our secretary for retirement. Expect a small gift and letter in the mail within the next few weeks. Thank you so much for being a donor!

They gave me a cookbook called Cookies and Milk and a letter thanking me again for all that I was able to donate.

I am in the process now of working on trying to bring my milk back for Max. I hope it works and I can produce him lots of milk, and also so that we can have that close mother/baby bonding experience that comes with breastfeeding.


  1. You did such a beautiful thing in your daughter's name, because she lived many other babies did too...

  2. That was such an amazing and strong thing for you to do! What a legacy in the name of your sweet daughter!

  3. Such an amazing and strong thing for you to do! What a legacy in the name of your sweet daughter!

  4. I know someone who successfully did this and has a blog. Please let me know if you'd like the address!

  5. Actually I'm going to ask her to come over here and visit :)

  6. <3 Evelynn's Milk sounds amazing. And I love that Max will get some of that sweet milk too.

    I love that they gave you the breakdown of where it went and to whom. Amazing.

  7. I hope bringing it back works for Max. I've heard inducing lactation tends to work better for people who have been pregnant before, so if it works you can tell Max it was all thanks to his big brother and sister. One of their gifts to him.

  8. Amazing. All those hospitals and babies who were helped because of you and your girl. Amazing.

  9. My pediatrician (never pregnant) has 4 adopted children she nursed all exclusively. I was in awe of her! As I am of you, what a gift. I'm hopeful your milk will come in as well.

  10. Oh Becky, I just got chills when you said you were working on getting your milk back for Max! How wonderful. You really are such a wonderful mother to all of your sweet babies. And 16 GALLONS of milk?? Holy crap! Good job sister!!

  11. Becky, what an amazing gift you gave in your daughter's honor. I got teary just reading this and thinking of your dedication and conviction durinng such a sad time. You are amazing. <3

  12. That's incredible. I'm amazed that you did all that, but I totally understand why you did it in the first place and how it made you feel close to Evelynn.

    I'm still wide-eyed over 16 gallons! Yowzers!

    And how great that you're trying to get your supply back up to feed Max! :)

  13. What a wonderful story Becky! It's incredible to hear of all the babies, you and Evelynn helped to feed! I hope that you're successful in getting your milk in for Max!

  14. You are truly an amazing woman. I cannot help but compare you with myself - I couldn't breastfeed my sons properly. I just blamed it on exhaustion, stress and other lame things.

    But anyway, im just keeping everything crossed that when your son comes, you'll be able to breastfeed him as much as you like. Your beautiful Evelynn and Liam will be always watching over you guys.

  15. WOW, that is TRULY AMAZING. The time & commitment and the challenges of where to nurse & how often. You gave such a generous gift in Evelynn's name. Im sure she is so proud of her Mom. How wonderful & special.

  16. Becky,
    This post about Evelynn's milk really touched me. When Eva died (at 10 months old) I was still nursing her and my engorged and painful breasts were more insult to the injury it felt like to me. I had pumped a lot of milk while she was in PICU and had all that in the freezer. When it came time to donate it I just couldn't part with it. It was all I had left of Eva. Her milk. I was so emotional about her milk I still cry even now as I write about it. That's it, now I'll have to blog about milk too:) Anyway, I'm in awe of how you were able to pump and donate so much of Evelynn's milk. I've since donated it privately but I still have a couple vials in the freezer. Too old to do anything with and I'll probably keep them forever.


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