Being a first time mom, it was mind-blowing to hear from the doctors just how awesome breastmilk was for babies. I felt like if I could do this one thing for her, I would – because everything else was in the hands of the doctors. It wasn’t always easy to leave her bedside (in fact it was torture to leave her at all), but at first I motivated myself to religiously pump every few hours because I believed one day she would need this colostrum and breast milk. It made me feel like a real mom for the first time.
I remember those yellow walls, the happy-go-lucky mom magazines that haunted this unknown future of ours, and the stillness and silence of the pumping room in the milk bank. I remember wondering if the mothers on the other side of the curtain had babies like mine – small and fragile.
I used this time behind the curtain to pump milk for my daughter, increase my milk supply, but more than that it was a time to cry. A time to let it all out, without my husband seeing my tears and longing to ‘fix’ me. I knew deep down inside just how unfortunate her situation was, and at the time the only thing I was holding onto was the fact that we served a God that could do anything.
A time or two the doctors did try to give Jenna some of my milk but her stomach wasn’t ready for it. I became discouraged and decided one day that it wasn’t worth it. Being away from her, even for 30 minutes every few hours was too painful. If she couldn’t take it I found no reason to leave her any more than I had to. I remember Dr. B looking me straight in the eye and telling me that one day she will. I didn’t take it as a confirmation that she would live, because he had been very clear just how critical our girl was, but I took it as a small ray of hope… that she might.
I kept pumping.
Of course things did not pan out the way we hoped and prayed they would. I found out a few days after she passed away that I could ask the milk bank to donate any milk I had. I made the phone call, and choking back tears I wanted to give any preemie a chance at life. They made a note that it could be donated. To this day, I don’t know if it was even enough to donate, but it helps to know that maybe – just maybe it did help another tiny life.