On the healing power of breastmilk…

After college, while in grad school, I developed a scarcity mentality. My annual income was around $10,000. My weekly food budget was so low that I lost 40 pounds in less than a year. Eventually, I started to worry constantly about whether I would have enough. Will I have enough food for the week? Will I have enough money for bills? I only lived in poverty for two years, but the impact still lingers.

After Carly was born, she did not latch for five days. Eight to ten times a day we’d try to breastfeed in every position we could. When that failed, we fed her formula through a syringe. Her weight dropped. I was terrified she wasn’t eating enough and would end up in the hospital. Eventually, things got better. Carly latched! She gained weight. Now, she is super healthy, chubby, and happy.

Out of fear I started building a stockpile of breastmilk. I’d feed Carly, then pump. Feed. Pump. Feed. Pump. I pumped so much milk we bought a freezer.

Then, a strange thing happened. The expiration date on the milk crept up. I realized I would either have to: unfreeze the milk and freeze more fresh stuff, let it go bad, or I could donate it.

I was adament when I was pregnant that I’d try breastfeeding for three maybe weeks, and I’d quit if I hated it. But the moment Carly finally latched, after 100+ unsuccessful attempts – I knew I loved breastfeeding. I never ever thought I’d love it as much as I do.

However families choose to feed their babies is a decision I respect. It’s hard and emotional. For our family, breastfeeding has been our main choice. But when we needed formula it was a blessing to have.

Yesterday I donated 60+ ounces of breastmilk to a mom in need. Del and I drove to Starbucks with our cooler, and I handed the family my milk. Then we got in the car and cried. Before Carly’s birth so many people gave us so much. We didn’t have to buy diapers for Carly until she was three months old. We won’t need to buy clothing for her for another three months. I was terrified at every step of my pregnacy that something would be scarce, but that never happened. My breastmilk was scarce a few days, but then it came in abundance.

As others gave to us, we give to those in need. For a few days, my milk will help give life to a beautiful baby. I’m beyond grateful to God for that opportunity.

I came home from exchanging the milk and thought about my scarcity fears. For the first time in years I felt a sense of peace. In giving away something so personal, I felt healing for an old fear. I never thought breastmilk would bring so much healing to my life.

Maybe my milk will dry up tomorrow. Maybe the freezer will go out. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe. But God has always provided. Thanks to breastmilk, my fear of scarcity is subsiding.

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