December 2016

Milk Stories: Katie & Max

katie-harmon-baby-maxIn September of 2015, my husband and I were on pins and needles at my 20 week anatomical ultrasound, anxious to see our second baby wiggle on the monitor and see if our little peanut was a boy or a girl. We were thrilled to discover we were having a second boy, but devastated when Max was diagnosed with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. Max’s CDH was very severe, and his chances of survival after birth were very low. Because of the severity of his case, he qualified for a two-part fetal surgery that was risky, but could improve his outcome.

Max underwent his first fetal surgery at 28 weeks gestation at the Colorado Fetal Care Center, and his second only hours before his birth on New Year’s Day 2016. After birth, Max was very sick, but fought very hard in the NICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

After Max’s birth, I immediately began pumping, as well as katie-harmon-baby-max-and-familycontinuing to nurse our 2.5 year old, who I had breastfed throughout Max’s pregnancy. I quickly was producing much more than Max or his big brother needed, and was anxious to become a milk donor. In the early months when Max was very sick, it was empowering to pump and donate. Unable to hold, comfort and nurse my own child, I felt like I had purpose as I made milk for other babies.

Max endured 9 major surgeries and countless ups and downs during what became an 11 month NICU stay. Over the course of Max’s journey, I have been honored to donate just under 10,000 ounces (78 gallons!) of breast milk. Max is finally home and we are close to celebrating his first birthday, a milestone we were not sure we would see. I am still pumping, and love providing my boys, plus the sweet little recipients of my milk, this precious “liquid gold”.


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Milk Stories: 11,000th Milk Donor Jessica & Baby Girl


jess-milk-donorOur daughter was born at 26 weeks and 5 days at 2 lbs 4 oz. Much to everyone’s surprise, she came out crying, giving me confidence that she would be alright! I didn’t get to hold and breastfeed my baby girl right after she was born like I’d always imagined I would. Instead, a great NICU team worked to stabilize her and then they took her to the NICU which would be her home for the next few months. I got to visit her a few hours later. She was so tiny and had so many things attached to her. I was so unsure of what our new little family’s future would be, but I knew that God was taking care of us.

The doctor told us that they would want to start feeding her through a tube in her mouth as soon as possible. They told us breast milk, as opposed to formula, is extremely beneficial because it lowers her risk of infection, and it’s easier for her under-developed tummy to digest. She only needed 1 ml to start, but being a preterm mother, my milk would probably not be coming in for a few days, maybe even a week. We were told about the option of donor breast milk and we agreed, knowing that it was the best thing for our daughter.

hazel-nicuI started pumping the day she was born and thankfully, my milk came in a couple days later! She only ended up needing donor milk for her first couple days of life, but we were so grateful that a mother out there had donated her milk so our baby girl could have the best start possible to life outside the womb. I quickly started producing much more milk than she needed and I decided to look into becoming a milk donor. Because she was born so early, my milk is different from normal term milk, and I knew that it could help some other preemie get the best start to their life outside the womb.

It’s now 11 weeks later and our little girl is still in the NICU, but along with bottle feeding, I’m also finally getting to breastfeed her! She weighs 7 lbs 9 oz and she is doing so well. So far she has no major complications from being born early. We’re looking forward to bringing her home in the next few weeks! —Jessica

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