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Why I Donate My Breast Milk

My body is horrible at making babies. Like, horrible. I haven't had a period without medical intervention since 2006 and even that was a random slip-up on the part of my stubborn ovaries like when a kid forgets that he's angry and accidentally smiles.

But with a combination of divine miracles and a suitcase full of fertility drugs, three children have been born from this broken body. And once those babies are out, my body rallies. It's like my breasts are the people-pleasing older siblings of my unruly ovaries, saying, "We're so sorry about their behavior. Let us make it up to you."

Yes, my breasts are overachievers. They made way too much milk for my daughter to consume when she was a baby. And now, they're making too much for my twin boys. I have no idea why. I can't explain it. All I know is that it's a massive blessing.

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When my daughter was a baby, I heard that it was possible to sell breast milk for about a dollar per ounce. That sounded like a fabulous way to make money, so I did some research. Perhaps I was just looking in the wrong places, but all of the websites I happened upon seemed a bit seedy. The pictures of the sellers were sexy and cleavage-focused, which felt weird to me. So I looked into donation instead.

I know that there are fabulous organizations that collect breast milk for families who want it, such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies. But for some reason, I desired a personal connection with the family that I was giving the milk to. I asked around and found friends of friends who could benefit from the excess milk I produce.

The other day I explained breast milk donation to someone who replied, "I certainly hope they're paying you for all that work!" My sarcastic but genuine answer was, "You mean all the extra eating and sitting I'm doing?" Because it's true—I'm burning extra calories and pumping gives me an excuse to actually sit down and read, something that's otherwise pretty impossible with three kids under three.

We are both just mamas, doing our very best to feed and nurture our babies.

Plus, and most importantly, I did nothing to earn this. I truly don't see this milk as my own. It doesn't belong to me or to my babies. My overproduction is simply a physical trait, like being tall or having 20/20 vision. And just like I'd expect a tall person to help me reach something on a high shelf or like I'd expect a person with great eyes to help me read something far away, of course I'd use my own good fortune to bless another person.

So I pump more than I need to so that my body responds to the demand and produces even more milk, while still keeping my health and my boys' nutrition needs at the forefront of my mind.

I know I'm not alone in this. I know that some of you have overachieving breasts, healthy bodies, clean and careful habits, and a desire to help others. So can I ask you a favor? On behalf of the moms and babies out there who wouldn't dare ask for themselves … will you pump more? I know you hate it. I know it's annoying and loud and makes you feel like a farm animal but will you do it anyway? Simply because you can. Because it's something that you can do to support another mama, another baby, another family.

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And you know what else is cool about this breast milk exchange stuff? When these women show up at my door to pick up the milk for their babies, there is an overwhelming feeling of equality between them and me. No sense of inadequacy on their part or of saintliness or "supermom-ism" on my part. We are both just mamas, doing our very best to feed and nurture our babies. And that's what makes me want to keep pumping for as long as my body will let me.

Well, that and the guilt-free desserts. Those are nice too.

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