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.
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
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.
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.