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October 25, 2010

Unfinished business

Filed under: Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 6:01 pm

Now that I’m back on my home turf, some people have pointed out to me that I kind of left the blogosphere hanging on a couple of issues.  For those who read “Across the Catwalk” and guessed that I was “Em” or the first-person narrator, you’re correct.  When I first wrote it, I thought that would be self-evident, but initial readers told me all kinds of compelling reasons why they thought I was “Julia.”  That’s quite a compliment, as you’ll soon learn.

But, of course, since it’s a true story, I could only really be one of them.  This story also has a happy ending, although I wasn’t certain of that when I wrote it.  “Julia” and I resumed our college careers after a couple of very long years.  She received BS, MS, and MD degrees; did humanitarian medical work in India and China; and beat cancer three times, all before we turned 30.  I can safely say there is no one in the world quite like “Julia.”  You don’t know joie de vivre until you’ve met her.  Someday, when I’m a better person, I will be a little more like her and little less like me.


And from even further back, I promised to tell you about my completed “project” when I had time.  So here goes:

Once upon a time, I decided to pump enough milk so that Neal could feed the baby a bottle at night and I could get some much-needed sleep (or rather, Neal and my midwife decided this was the plan, and they were so so brilliant!).  And then I thought it would be a good idea to pump enough to stave off infection because it quickly became clear that I was producing far more milk than baby girl was consuming.  While I was at it, I planned to store a little extra for date nights . . . you know, because we would magically get better at going on dates after we had a baby.

So I pumped twice a day, until one day Neal said the milk in the freezer was getting a little out of control.  I estimated that there was roughly one hundred ounces in my reserve, but as I started to count and organize, I realized I was a little off . . . by like 350 ounces.

Without even realizing it, I had pumped and stored 450 ounces.  Neal wanted to get rid of it because the baby would never drink it all, but anyone who has ever tried breastfeeding or pumping knows that the very idea is simply blasphemous (I would’ve made him sleep on the couch for the very suggestion, but well, if you don’t sleep in the same room to begin with, that has very little meaning).  That stuff ain’t easy to come by and it is precious!  Luckily, my mom mentioned that there were human milk banks to serve needy infants, which makes sense to me now but I had never heard of before.

It’s a long process to become a milk donor, and rightfully so, since it’s particularly for fragile preemies (many preemies can’t digest formula very well).  I started the process with the San Jose milk bank (there isn’t one in Utah) in July with a phone interview, then a 15-page written application, sign-offs from my midwife and the pediatrician, and finally, blood tests (it turns out Mormons make awesome donors because of our “clean” living ways).  In the meantime, I was also able to donate milk to a local infant whose mother was unable to breastfeed, but desperately wanted to.

I finally sent the milk donation to San Jose in late September, and it felt so worth all the effort.  Seven hundred ounces later, I like to think that I helped some little preemie develop a nice pair of Popeye arms and thunder thighs.


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