kindness activist

kindness activist

Monday, August 8, 2016

Breast Milk Kindness

Before we talk about a specific KINDNESS, let’s take a moment to celebrate:


(Ok, ok, maybe it was BREASTFEEDING WEEK, and maybe it finished on August 7, so maybe I am a little bit late…  I thought I had read that it was a MONTH, I thought I had TIME, I thought it was all of August 2016, but now it looks like this important topic only got assigned one lousy week.  Unfair!!  Let’s just call it a MONTH ok??  Let’s celebrate it all of August – cuz breastfeeding should be celebrated!!!!)

To celebrate, here are photos of some incredible moms I know who agreed to share their beautiful breast feeding photos here:

Benny and his mamma

Lena and her mommy

Super Sam and his mom
Ryker and his mother take a little break from eating
(By the way, here is an official link to World Breastfeeding Week (which in my opinion should be month…) - World Breastfeeding Week

Ok, so now that we have our general celebration going on – let’s look at an amazing example of KINDNESS via breast milk.  I saw a piece on the courageous Demi Frandsen online*, and knew she needed to be dubbed a Kindness Activist.  And when you hear her story I know that you will agree.

Demi donated 17,503 ounces of her breastmilk.  That is 131 gallons.  And she woke herself up EVERY 3 HOURS to pump to do that. 

Adorable baby Leo
And really, her life at the time must have been stressful enough, without the constant waking up and pumping…  Her son, Leo, was born 2 months early and was very sick with gastroschisis.  He was in the NICU at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.  Demi talked with a lactation consultant there when Leo was a couple of weeks old and still unable to receive her milk.  The hospital was storing the pumped milk for her and noticed how large her stored supply was getting – they were practically running out of room to save it.  So the consultant introduced the idea of DONATING the milk.  Demi explained to me how it works, “You contact a lactation consultant or the milk bank directly. Then they do a quick over-the-phone interview with you to make sure you're eligible (healthy, not on medications, etc). They do a free blood draw and test to make sure you're healthy. Then you bring your frozen milk to your nearest "milk depot" and they ship it off. The milk bank provides all of your storage bags. You don't pay a cent through the whole process.  So Demi decided to save half of her milk for Leo and donate the other half. 

Demi and Leo having a snuggle
As Leo got older (still in the NICU), because of his illness he still wasn’t able to take much milk, so Demi donated more and more – in fact she donated the majority of the milk she pumped.  She told me, “Donating his milk was emotional every single time.  That milk was for him.  I pumped every ounce for my baby’s benefit.  But knowing that other babies and other moms would benefit from it gave me the strength to want to give it away.”

What a sweet little fella
Sadly, the last donation Demi made was the toughest.  Leo passed away unexpectedly at only ten months of age, and Demi still had a large supply of milk stored, which she very kindly donated.  She weaned her supply for another month and donated that milk, too.  The milk “is just one more way Leo’s life has touched so many.  His milk is saving lives of other fighters like him.”

I asked Demi how she felt donating the milk, and if she had communicated with any of the fortunate moms who received her milk to give their children.  She said, “It feels incredibly rewarding to donate.  As a mom, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my children.  My two boys are my whole world.  And for moms who want so badly to give their babies breastmilk but for various reasons can’t provide it, it’s one way I can help. I have heard from a few moms whose babies received or are receiving donor milk, and it's so rewarding to know that they know the love that was in those ounces. They feel it, too. I was actually able to donate a little of my milk to a close friend whose supply hadn't come in very strong yet. That was a pretty amazing experience.”

Beyond beautiful - Leo and Demi
And, like almost every single Kindness Activist I have interviewed for this project, Demi downplayed her kind actions.  “I feel a bit sheepish receiving so much praise for doing something any mom would want to do. I did this all for my baby. Leo is the one who should be recognized for all of this. His life was so full of meaning, he changed so many lives. Especially mine.”

Thank you, Demi.  Your actions were beyond KIND.  You think “any mom” would do what you did, but it took a lot of courage and strength.  And you DID IT.  Thank you for sharing your story – and Leo’s.  May we all take a moment today to pause, be thankful, and BE KIND like you.

Little Leo
*Here is a link to the story that introduced me to Demi’s Kindness:  WOWT story about Demi

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