Nadine has kindly shared her journey into motherhood for the second time around, becoming a advocate for breast milk donation: Nadine shares the real and raw moments she didn't ever think she would be having to face...
When we found out our second miracle was on the way in October 2019, I already knew I'd do everything in my power to make breastfeeding a part of our parenting journey once more. I was fortunate enough to breastfeed my now 4-year-old Madden James until he was over two, we absolutely loved our time bonding together in this way and I longed for the time that I could do this again.
Being a mum of now two boys, my youngest Beckham Jude graced us with his scary arrival prematurely last June, his traumatic entrance for all of us (including my husband as my birth partner) was an experience that still has us in disbelief to this day. Once the initial chaos and dust settled, and our Baby Becks was safe and stable in the unit my heart sank somewhat - I just knew our breastfeeding journey was going to be an uphill climb - far from linear – a very different journey from the one I had known previously. But that was ok – In a split moment I was reminded how precious life was and I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that our baby was here to begin with and that whilst our breastfeeding journey might not be smooth sailing, it was a journey that we were blessed to be taking in the first place.
Now going back to the beginning, from the moment I too was well enough I of course like all of us prem-mama’s I started the infamous pumping round the clock to establish milk that was to be given to Becks through his feeding tube. I knew given his development and condition that his feeds were going to be tube-only at least until he built the strength and stamina to try for suck feeds. The situation was crazy, and I learnt quickly that I could only control the controllable, the controllable’s within my reach so my quest very quickly became razor sharp, and it was doing the best I could with my nutrition, hydration, and positivity in working towards creating the best damn breastmilk I possibly could! After researching and from recommendations I had initially planned to order Milky Goodness products to start consuming around 35 weeks but of course – of course at that gestation our little guy was well and truly earth side - I had advised Rebecca from Milky Goodness my waters had broken and that we had a prem babe who was going to be joining us early – alas she sent me my first order of the BOX OF MAGIC as my husband calls it and there started my love and adoration for Milky Goodness goodies. Noteworthy to mention, whilst I was establishing my own milk supply, we were able to rely on breast milk donated by a group of very special angels through the Milk Bank run through the hospital. From that moment, I knew that if things were to eventuate for us in time the goal of mine was to become a breastmilk donor – I’ll touch on this a bit later – because guess what that dream became my reality.
Having a prem baby in hospital was quite the journey, and one that leaves me with so many fond and not-so-fond memories. It was a rollercoaster of an experience, one that has truly shaped me in my mothering journey today, celebrating the tiniest of wins, down to the milligram – the wins that only a premmie family will truly understand. You see this was a boy who wasn't just hungry, his life depended on building a strong immune system to give him the strength he needed to fight another day. It was my duty to do what I could to help our boy thrive within those hospital walls and heck you cannot fault a prem mama’s sheer guts, determination and the unrelenting drive to do what they need to do for their baby’s life and health. It was exhausting on so many levels, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and especially with having a 3-year-old at home not quite understanding what was going on, missing his mummy and wondering why his baby brother couldn’t come home. Again, it was tough on so many levels, but I reminded myself daily that our journey could have been very different – we were the lucky ones and even though it was hidden within the confines of the most unexpected place there were so many BEAUTIFUL moments that I’ll cherish forever.
Fast forward to today, because of the wonderful help we had from EBM donors, it really drove me to take the opportunity to help other premmie babies, sick babies, or sick mothers who are unable to breastfeed themselves. Once my supply was established and I knew I could meet Becks' demand, I started to express extra milk to donate to the Milk Bank to help others who'd been through the same ordeal that we had. Knowing what an absolutely momentous difference this made on our journey, it’s my absolute privilege to give back in some small way. Whilst it means extra pumping and sacrificing my time and commitments, it’s a privilege that truly extends far beyond what words can say.
Being the mum of a premmie baby, you do whatever you can to help feed and nurture your babe with every ounce of everything that's inside you and Milky Goodness has been there beside me every step of the way where it brings us to today where we've got our strapping 8-month-old baby who's in the top percentile for his age-corrected, with no signs of slowing down. Our story has been the steepest of learning curves challenging yet positively life altering, and whilst we’ve had our fair share of trying moments, our journey has been beautiful all the same! To say Milky Goodness goodies have been pivotal in my journey is an understatement. Combining regular consumption of their milk boosting ingredients conveniently ready to go with power pumping where needed and lots of water, the cookies and granola particularly have been incredible in helping keep my supply going strong even when I notice reduction in my supply as it did recently - due to extended family circumstances I’ve been spending a lot of my time away from Becks as I provide support to my respective family. Adopting a combination of power pumping and Milky Goodness goodies have allowed me to step it up when I need to in order to build the supply back up or simply to keep it maintaining so I can facilitate the needs of my baby and my donor commitment too!
Thank you, Milky Goodness, for helping strengthen our baby boy and now premmie babies across Queensland just like him. To look at Becks today, you wouldn't know he was premmie who was afforded quite a few wild cards to live. He's a happy, super healthy baby which I absolutely credit with all the immune-building antibodies he was given at his most vulnerable time. In closing I wish to give a big high 5 to you, the mama reading this, the mama reading this who may have breastfed for 1 day, or a week, a month, a year or 3… my fellow mamas who sat on a pump like I did for hours at a time, days and weeks and months on end, to the mamas who did that to no avail and their breastfeeding journey didn’t eventuate how it was hoped for, to the mums who exclusively pumped, to the mums who mix feed because it’s what your baby likes, or to you the mum who had the POWER to say breastfeeding wasn’t for you, lastly here’s to the mums-to-be reading this, may your journey be smooth sailing, trust yourself mama you INNATELY know so much more than you think!
Love, light and blessings for all that liquid gold, Nadine xoxo
If you are interested in Breast Milk Donation or obtaining donated breast milk please see any of the following references:
QLD Milk Bank
Australian Red Cross Milk Bank