Brecken’s Leaf

On the morning of

January 9th, 2013, when Brecken was already at

the children’s hospital and I was still at the hospital I birthed him

in here in Appleton,  a lactation consultant walked into my room to get

me to start pumping right away.  Thank goodness someone was thinking

about my boobs because since I didn’t have my son with me to nurse

and from the trauma of his birth, pumping was one of the last things on my mind.

She educated me on how to use my brand new Medela pump and how to store and

label what I was able to produce.

At my first attempt, I was able to get out

enough colostrum that impressed the lactation consultant.

I was told to keep at it every 2-3 hours and to make sure I wake in the

middle of the night at least once to do it as well.  It was hard to get into

a routine since my mind wasn’t all of where it should have been.  I was too

occupied with healing and keeping tabs on my son.  I was so heartbroken

that I wasn’t with my little boy.

Torry and I joined Brecken on

January 10th.  Two days after his birth.  Against

what my heart wanted, I volunteered to stay an extra night

before joining him because I still couldn’t stand or walk on my own.

That epidural and the episiotomy did a number on me so bad that

I needed help out of bed, help to walk to the toilet, help to pull

my hospital underwear up.  I was like a baby myself in terms of some of

the care I needed.

The first day or two,

I wasn’t pumping on a schedule yet.  I was

still trying to let everything soak in.  My milk came in about

3-4 days after giving birth.  It was one of the coolest experiences,

watching mother nature unfold at my breasts.  It was a few days of

colostrum and then BAM the milk was there!  It started off being 2oz every two

hours and then turned into about 4-6 oz.  Going against the lactation consultant’s

advice, I never woke in the middle of the night to pump.  I was too physically

and mentally exhausted.  When I slept at night, I slept like a rock.  I needed to.

I needed to be as mentally alert as I could for my son.  I needed to be able to

comprehend all of the medical terms and tests that were being run.

 I can’t even begin to tell you how mentally draining everything was.

Both Torry and I would doze off while holding Brecken.  Our eyes

could hardly handle being awake.

Since I wasn’t

pumping in the middle of the night

like I was told to, when I would wake in the morning,

one of the first things I needed to do was pee.  But I couldn’t

walk to the bathroom without milk just leaking out everywhere.

Since carrying a baby for 10 months and giving birth does a number

on a woman’s bladder, that was the first thing I needed to take care of before any

pumping could be done.  As I would sit on the toilet, I would watch the milk

literally just pour out onto the floor.  My breasts were insanely engorged, especially

in the mornings.  They were so big they could each have their own zip-code!

After my potty routine, I’d have to clean myself up as well as the floor

since it was littered with my milk.  Then I would pump.  Every

 morning I would pump about 9-10 oz!  It was insane!  I needed to attach

 full, 8oz bottles to my pump in order to not overflow!  (Because I did

a time or two)

My daily morning

routine consisted of getting ready in the

morning after I pumped.  When we arrived at the NICU, my

first stop was the storage room with all of the freezers.  I would dump

off my supply from the morning as well as from the evening when we would

be back in our room at the Ronald McDonald house.  Each mother is designated

2 storage bins in the freezer.  Well, at one point, the Dr’s had to stop giving Brecken

my milk because he had a small infection and the milk created extra secretions.

They wanted to eliminate the need to suction him as often to let him be more

comfortable.   I quickly filled my two bins and worked on a 3rd.

I was starting

to get frustrated with pumping

once I reached the 3rd bin.  At that point, we were already

given Brecken’s diagnosis and Torry and I already knew what our decision

was (we just hadn’t said it out loud yet).  Because I knew what our decision was

I no longer wanted to pump.  I wanted to spend every waking moment with Brecken.

I never wanted to leave his side.  But, as most of you mother’s know, you cannot just stop

pumping cold turkey.  You have to wean your breasts otherwise you’ll get engorged beyond

control, you’ll be in a lot of pain, and you could get infections.  Stupid me, I didn’t know any

of that, and so one day I decided not to pump.  I paid for it later that evening.  I was so

incredibly engorged and they hurt terribly.  I already had a clogged milk duct, I could feel

the lump.  My mom had to explain to me of the proper way of doing things.

I continued to pump,

but began to let an extra hour go here and there.

 I stopped before I was completely empty to retrain my breasts

to not produce as much.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stop completely

until 12 hours before Brecken passed away.  I pumped the morning of January 28th

for the last time.  Brecken passed away just after midnight on the 29th.  Maybe it was

a blessing in disguise.  I find it a little ironic that I was able to spend my time and energy

on my son that day without the distraction of needing to pump.

Before we all

left the children’s hospital, I had

told the lactation nurse that I wanted to donate

all of the milk I had stored up in their freezers.  I had to do a blood

draw and fill out some paperwork.  I honestly don’t remember when this happened

next, but I remember maybe in February or March that I got a phone call from Breanna,

from the Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank.  She asked me some questions and then sent me

some more routine paperwork.  I slacked at getting it all filled out, but about a month later

I turned it in.  There were more emails exchanged and I have to admit, I became frustrated

a bit at part of the process.  But everything got cleared up and then I received an amazing

email from Breanna.  She told me I was officially a donor and gave me my donor number.

When you become a donor,

the Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank puts your child’s name and birthdate

on a gold leaf and then it is placed on their tree on the wall in their office.

I was officially a donor as of May 2nd, 2013.

Now, today,

just over 3 months later, I got the best email from Breanna:

Brecken’s leaf was in and mounted on the wall!!  It was a very emotional

moment.  It is beyond amazing to see his name and birthday on the leaf and to see it

on the wall with all the other babies who’s mother’s donated as well.  Brecken, I’m sure,

would be proud that his mamma generously helped a whole slew of other babies

in need.  The thought just warms my heart.  Breanna also informed me

that I donated a total of 153 ounces!  153 ounces in less than10 days of pumping.

Now, lets talk about

Breanna.  This woman was incredibly amazing

to work with.  She was always prompt with her email responses

and you could always tell she was genuine with her words.  She never

talked at me, she talked to me.  She gets on a personal level and I think

she does such a fantastic job.  This is one thing she said to me in one of our email

exchanges:

“I Do hope you still find meaning in donating your milk and that

it may somehow assist you through your grieving process.  I’m so

thankful that you have chosen to donate the milk you worked so

hard to get for your little guy and I can assure you it will be put to

good use.  Also, we have included your baby’s name to a leaf in our

office in honor of his life and the milk you pumped to donate.  When

the leaf is hung up on the wall after being engraved I will send you

a photograph if you would like.”

I cannot say enough about Breanna and her compassion

and efforts to make sure a mother doesn’t encounter any issues.

Fellow mammas, if you have a great supply and you have milk to spare, please

consider donating to Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank. 

Here are the images of Brecken’s leaf!!

*Remember, you can click on the images to see them bigger*

Leaf3

Leaf2

Brecken's Leaf1

3 thoughts on “Brecken’s Leaf

  1. I love this post Sarah. What an amazing gift that you have given to other mothers, with donating
    Brecken’s milk. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and Brecken’s life with the world. I love him.

    • Thank you for being wonderful, amazing midwives and friends! I couldn’t imagine anyone else being the care takers of me and my baby (and future babies) during my pregnancy. I’m even more happy that you were able to meet him and hold him before he passed. I had a mini panic attack at the thought of you guys not being able to meet him. Thank you for everything. We love you!

  2. Sarah, what a beautiful story……Your blog is truly amazing and I am sure could help others. You should consider putting all of your blogs together and producing a grief book for others who have, or will experience such a devastating loss. You are an amazing woman, and mother….xo

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