For this milk story, we are celebrating another incredible surrogate who has selflessly donated hundreds of ounces of milk to help other families. Meet Danna.
“For over a decade, I tried to bring my dream of being a surrogate to fruition. After a devastating loss, I had closed that door and moved on. But then I received a tentative communication from my agency about a family who needed someone who would understand their own loss. Someone who would go to any length to protect their desire to bring their child into the world. With humble gratefulness, I can say that someone was me.
I cherished every single moment that little boy grew inside the haven of my body. I wore belly buds daily, playing recordings of his parents and sister into his watery world. I guarded where I went, what I was exposed to, what I ate, and how rested so that I could maintain myself. I was absolutely honored to protect and nourish him, counting the days until I could present him to his family. And what a moment that was!
I get asked how I could “give him away” or “not want to keep him,” and I struggle to find the words adequate enough to explain that I absolutely never viewed the journey as wanting or not wanting to keep him, nor did I view my role as giving him away. I was his chosen gardener. I was his keeper until he was ready to enter the world and join the people who had created him.
Having breastfed all four of my own children, I was deeply committed to the idea that this baby should also be the recipient of the milk my body would be making for him. I religiously researched how to exclusively pump. I watched hundreds of YouTube videos. I consulted with lactation in the hospital, and I set my goals according to the common ground presented in all the information. I pumped every two hours for weeks, then every three for months. Not once did I have a supply issue. I was so exhausted, but it made sense, having just given birth, and it made me feel so connected to the baby I had nurtured for almost a year.
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My secret, quiet goal was to reach one year of pumping so I could feed the baby exclusive breastmilk his whole first year, but I made realistic goals with his parents of three months, then six months, etc. When we reached the one-year mark, oh the celebrations that we shared from Denver to Brooklyn! In the scheme of things, I had produced so much milk that shipping the surplus to Brooklyn was too great a financial strain on the parents. I contacted Mothers’ Milk Bank, underwent the intake process, and proceeded to donate hundreds of ounces of my carefully expressed breastmilk.
Knowing my efforts were recognized and welcomed by such a respectful, extraordinary foundation made me feel so validated and valued. Knowing the milk would be given to babies in need, perhaps even save a life, was the ultimate reward for every moment I sat with my breast pump. Whenever I look back on my surrogacy and pumping journey, I am filled completely with gratitude.
Giving of one’s self brings the sensation of achievement unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve saved lives in the ICU, I’ve birthed my own children, I’ve breastfed my own children, I’ve donated blood, and I’ve given to charities. But carrying a baby for a family and pumping breastmilk to donate far surpass the personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and accomplishment of all of them. Tedious hours turned into life-giving nutrients is something only lactating people can do. Donating my breastmilk was a priceless, incomparable sacrifice that I will cherish the rest of my days—and would do again in a heartbeat.”
Danna, thank you for your incredible selflessness! So many babies have benefitted from your generosity and we, for one, are eternally grateful!
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