My body has shifted in its function and purpose. My body now sustains a little person’s life while creating a sense of calm and safety. Mother’s milk is often reffered to as ‘liquid gold’. This nectar that my body (all of a sudden after many years of life) produces protects this babe with vital immune antibodies and nutritional building blocks. Its the perfect food and my body is smart enough to adapt my milk as his tender digestive system develops. The oxytocin that flows from my body into him through my milk bonds us deeply as he gazes up at me with the purest heart and big blue eyes. These moments I will forever cherish.
I do not produce a wild overabundance of milk like some women I know and yet when I began nursing I felt called to share further than my own child. I tried to watch a video of Beyonce singing at a UN function and was unable because my eyes swelled with tears and I desired to go to Africa and feed those starving children from my own breast. The urge was overwhelming. I took that desire and began looking into sharing milk through the hospital systems or milk banks. I dislike that parents have to pay for the milk and that the milk would be pasteurized. The World Health Organization has long upheld that mother’s milk is the utmost best for a baby, secondly milk from a donor mother and lastly is formula.
As serendipity would have it there was a lovely woman who I have long had a friend crush on but our paths only remotely crossed. I learned that she and her husband had adopted a son who happened to be a week older than my own. I reached out to her in joy and to offer my friendship, and share learned lessons while fumbling through new mom’dom. There really should be a manual. I offered myself to text round the clock and be an ally in the journey that is the all encompassing first 6 weeks of having a newborn. She gently opened to my offer and we developed a beautiful connection and learned that many of our styles are similar, particularly our committment to health, wellness and our sense of humor.
When I learned of the challenges she was facing giving her son formula and getting the right balance I offered her my own breast milk. At first she turned down my offer. Could it be that adding a new ingredient to the mix was overwhelming, or this idea some have that sharing milk ‘is weird’ and ‘gross’, or was it that such an offering seemed complicated and too generous. Whatever it was, I didn’t need to know. I offered again weeks later as our relationship deepened and I was so happy that yes was the answer.
This brought me great joy. I began pumping with this little boy in mind and heart. What does it mean that I am sharing this precious noursihment with this person. The humilty it gives me to know that I am able to assist this human’s immune system and hence health for his entire life it profound. I am now deeply connected to this person and his family and love has grown.
All mammals (besides human) share their milk with ease. If one mother doesnt have enough milk or she is ill, another female offers her breast. This is normal, the way mammals are designed. The internet is flooded with ‘cute’ images of interspecies milk sharing, pigs nursing on a tiger but our culture is behind in accepting the sweetness of humans sharing milk.
Sharing milk is of my most human moments. The essence of hu-man-ness. It’s really not exceptional or extraordinary in any way. In fact, it is normal… It is the human thing to do. How could I not help a precious being with such a fundamental need.
Off to go pump
*written in honor of ’world milksharing week’.
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