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Have you ever had anyone do something for you that you could never repay the favor? I have been in that predicament for the last year. I am so thankful that I can’t even express my gratitude.

My last baby, Asher, was born the end of October of 2010. One thing that I had looked forward to the most was breastfeeding my son.

My first time feeding Asher Oliver in the NICU.

Uriah, his brother, died 10 months before that. One of the most difficult aspects of his death was that I was never able to feed him. I had pumped colostrum for him, but he was never able to use it. Not only did I go through the grief of losing my son, but then I had to suffer the physical pain of “drying up.” I remember at his funeral that I was in so much pain from this I couldn’t think.

Anyway, I was truly looking forward to feeding my next baby. He was a preemie so I was not able to breastfeed him until he was a week old. I had been pumping up to that point but, as I found out later, not often enough. I should have been pumping every couple of hours. Instead, if someone came to visit I didn’t want to be rude and leave for ½ hour. So I would wait for them to leave, and then the nurses would tell me that the doctors would soon be making their rounds and I wouldn’t want to miss that so I would put it off. I had no clue this would affect my supply. After being in the hospital a week we headed home. He was nursing very well. I was so excited.

After being home a couple of days I could tell he wasn’t getting enough. He wanted to nurse all the time. He wouldn’t even wait 15 minutes between feeds. If I tried to express my milk there was none. I had nursed my first son 11 years prior. He had also ALWAYS been hungry so I supplemented with formula. I also worked full time back then with quite a bit of overtime. I was too nervous to take my pump to work (State Prison) so I would just wait until I got home to try to pump. Every time I tried to pump I couldn’t get a drop. Even after working 16 hours straight I would get nothing. He still loved to nurse, but I honestly don’t believe he ever got much of mommy’s milk. When he was 4 months old I gave up.

So here I was 11 years later with a bit more knowledge of the importance of nursing. Asher LOVED to eat, but was eating practically around the clock. At 2 weeks of age he went in for his first doctor’s visit. He had not gained an ounce. I knew then that we had a problem. My hubby and I had done quite a bit of reading on how bad formula can be for a baby. I felt absolutely awful. Why couldn’t I feed my baby? I read all of the books, websites, and talked to multiple lactation consultants. No matter what I did I couldn’t build my supply. I even tried a prescription…to no avail.

When we left the NICU he weighed 5#. A week later he still weighed 5#.

I had heard some staff members at the hospital talking about donated milk. I can only imagine the look on my face when I overheard this. Seriously? People actually use other moms’ milk? The thought of this totally grossed me out. After getting home from the doctor’s office that day I decided to do a bit more research on this. There was a local milk bank, but they charged $9 an ounce. Eek! I found a lady on Facebook from Canada, Emma Kwasnica, who had started a type of “Meals on Wheels” for babies. It was actually called “Eats on Feets” at the time. There was so much wonderful information on this site and I seriously started considering it. My hubby and I ended up calling Emma in Canada…a rather expensive phone call, by the way. She was crazy helpful. She not only explained the benefits of the milk, but the benefits of continuing to breastfeed. So Jesse went out and bought us a supplemental nursing system (SNS). The SNS ended up bringing me to tears so many times that I gave up after a few weeks. It was so funny…there is a breastfeeding center at our local hospital. I called them in tears over the SNS once and they had me come in. Of course, for that feeding Asher latched on EVERY single time without a single solitary problem. I went home all excited. Started the next feeding and he refused….yet again.

I immediately hooked up with two wonderful milk mommies. I sit here crying at my computer just thinking about what they sacrificed to feed my son. We have had over 15 milk mommies who donated. Some moms lived so close we were able to use the milk before it was frozen. Some moms I couldn’t get a ton of info on so we would pasteurize their milk. I remember getting up in the night to pasteurize milk. Yes, I would much rather just have rolled over and nursed my son, but sometimes we don’t always get what we want. Instead I would nurse him for a total of 40 minutes and then pasteurize and then feed him his bottle. This was every 2 hours around the clock for many, many weeks.

He burped like a pro. His brother was so proud!

At his following appointments he was always in the 50th percentile for weight.

My son was able to use, almost exclusively, breast milk for the first 14 months of life. To me that is an absolute miracle. He has tons of antibodies he would have never gotten. He has tasted a variety of foods. By the way the old wives tale of babies not being able to tolerate certain foods was totally proven false to me through this experience. He never once had a single tummy ache from someone’s milk. He’s been protected from illnesses, infections, allergies, obesity, and so much more. We have traveled all over Michigan, and even Indiana to get milk. We even received milk from a lady from California, when she visited family in Michigan.

Here I am all these months later not having a clue how to thank these moms. Not only did they sit and feed their own babies, but they also sat and pumped for mine. Can you even imagine the amount of time this took? Every single one of these ladies was a stranger, except for one. They didn’t know me or my baby from Adam. Yet, they were willing to bring nourishment and love to my son. Isn’t that amazing?

I’m praying with all my heart that I will be able to feed my own baby next time, but if not I’ll know what to do. Thank you milk mommies for your sacrifice, your empathy, and mostly for loving my son!

A couple of my awesome milk moms.

I can’t believe two years have passed since you’ve been in my arms.
It seems like only yesterday we turned off those alarms.

You felt so warm and heavy as you nestled in real near.
I knew the end was coming fast; my heart was full of fear.
I’d thought so often, for 40 weeks, about what you’d be like.
I figured you’d look like your dad, and act like mom for spite.

You did look like your daddy how you act we still don’t know,
but I suspect you’re full of spunk and put on quite the show.

We miss you more than words can say, and wish that you were here.
It seems there’s something missing and that something’s you my Dear.

I try to think about what you’d be like on earth.
Walking, talking, running too, and filling us with mirth.

Your sister’s an adult now and a beautiful young woman.
Your brother Abner’s growing tall and always full of fun.

Your little brother, Asher, has been a healing balm.
The Lord knew what we needed to feel a peaceful calm.

I wish with all my heart I could hold you on my knee,
and make you giggle, sing you songs, and fill your heart with glee.

I know you’re happy where you are and I won’t take that from you.
It’s just I miss you baby boy, and wish I were there too.

The time will come someday I know and we will be together.
The giggles, songs, and silliness will then last for forever.

I love you Uriah my little boy you’ll always be.
You’ll never know the peace and love that you have given me.

Throughout the day today I have thought back to what was happening at that particular time 2 years ago. Waking up feeling little Uriah have strange hiccups. I remember the contractions starting, the epidural, giving birth, and the silence when Uriah was delivered. Oh how I hate remembering the silence. It’s not that I needed someone to say anything, or that I needed to talk. I needed to hear my baby cry. It never happened though.

I remember going into shock and my body shaking uncontrollably for 2 hours straight. I remember being wheeled into the NICU to see my son. I remember the sounds of the monitors, the hush of the staff working with him, how he smelled, and how he needed to be cleaned up. I asked the nurse if I could clean him. She told me it would be too much stimulation. She said I could touch him, but not to rub or pat him…again, too much stimuli. He felt so cold. I remember pulling my hand away. The nurse explained that they were lowering his body temperature in hopes of bringing back some brain activity. I remember the silence of the nurse when I asked if I should pump milk for him. Her silence told me the truth of what was really happening. I remember being scared, I remember wanting to run. I wanted to run far, far away. I didn’t want to be in that room with that cold baby. I asked to be taken to my room.

My room…not what I had envisioned. As they wheeled me into the room I saw what looked like a postcard on my door. The picture was of a green leaf with a teardrop in the middle. I didn’t know what it meant. I learned later it meant that I had a baby that had either died or was going to die. I remember the silence of my room. I could hear people talking and sniffling in other rooms, but no babies. I couldn’t hear the squeaky cries of a newborn. I remember the sadness. At that time I decided I wouldn’t go back. I couldn’t bear to see my baby that way. I wanted to remember him as I had dreamt about him, not as he was. Not with tubes and wires and needles. Not with dried gunk all over his body. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. Why was this happening? This was not what I was supposed to be feeling.

My friend came to encourage me. She unfortunately understood how I was feeling. She knew what I NEEDED to do. She hauled my rear-end back to that NICU. I will never be able to thank her enough. She told me I needed to make memories…she was right. By the time I went to bed that night I was one hopeful mommy. I had pumped milk for my baby. I had prayed for my baby. I knew my God was the Great Physician. I KNEW he could heal Uriah. I went to bed with hope in my heart.

When I pray I try to always say, “Lord I only want this if this is what You want.” It’s a very difficult thing to say and mean. That day 2 years ago was the most difficult it had ever been.

Have you ever looked through a keyhole in an old house? Imagine for a minute peering through that hole. Can you see that huge king size bed with silk sheets and draperies hanging from the four huge bedposts? What about that ginormous garden tub in the corner surrounded by plants and candles? The little reading nook in the back is so unique. There are pillows everywhere and books lining the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. The sunshine streaming through the windows makes you wonder if you want to take a nap in its warmth or read a book by its light. Isn’t it beautiful? I could spend a month in there without ever wanting to leave…especially if my favorite foods were delivered. ;o) The problem lies in our view. It’s only through that stinkin’ keyhole.

God looks from above and can see the bedbugs lying in wait for a warm body. He sees the mold under the paint that will cause our lungs to burn. He hears the rats as they run through the walls. He knows this is not the room for us. He loves us too much to give us a room like that. So he steers us away. Some of us cling to that doorknob as if our life depends on it. Some of us look back longingly. Some of us follow reluctantly. Some of us run to follow Him. I will admit right now. I didn’t run to follow Him, but I knew whatever He decided was what was best for me. Why? Because He loves me completely. I don’t know what Uriah’s future on earth may have been. What if it was full of pain? I would much rather he was safely in heaven with my Savior waiting for me, than to have him suffer at all on this earth. Why? Because I love him completely. The best thing in all of this is I get to spend eternity with him. Not only that, but I now have another little boy that would have NEVER been had Uriah lived. Oh, Asher is such a joy! Yes, he is a typical 1 year old that makes me want to pull my hair out at times, but he is exactly what I needed. He is exactly what my Father wanted me to have. He is my hope.