My family’s story is not like everyone else’s. I began my breastfeeding journey with my second son out of sheer necessity. We knew early on in this pregnancy that there were some abnormalities with the baby and that he would need every bit of extra help, so I knew breastfeeding was a must. However, I was nervous because of the 6-week struggle I endured to breastfeed my firstborn, Tayden. The day finally came in November 2010 when our beautiful baby boy Tristan arrived. All the health issues we were nervous about looked as if they had resolved themselves. We were going to have a healthy, beautiful little munchkin that was perfect in every way!
As Tristan grew and changed, and we continued to take him to his well-baby visits, our family physician noticed that Tristan had an abnormal-sounding heart murmur. We were referred to a pediatric cardiologist, and an echocardiogram revealed a hole in his heart. I was told there was nothing to be done about it, except to wait and watch. But my mommy instinct told me something was not right.
We got a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and doctors there discovered that Tristan had a coronary artery fistula and an aneurysm in the septum of his heart. He needed a costly surgery to fix his heart. Fortunately, we were in great hands, and the surgeons were able to ligate the fistula in the hope that it would stop the blood flow to the aneurysm, which would eventually heal on its own.
Tristan recovered well from the surgery, and I’m sure that his fast recovery had something to do with the breast milk he received, which strengthened his immune system. After I’d finished weaning Tristan off my breast milk, I heard about Tiny Treasures Milk Bank through a friend. I’d exclusively pumped with Tristan because of my hectic work and school schedule, and I always had a surplus of milk available. I knew that if we ever had another baby, I wanted to be a donor.
In August of 2015, we were blessed with our third child, our daughter Teagan. She latched on quickly, and she breastfed like a champ. It was during this time that I began my journey with Tiny Treasures. Becoming a first-time donor took a little while – I was on a wait list for about 4 months, and then I had to submit a medical survey describing my medical history and provide medical confirmation from both my physician and Teagan’s pediatrician to make sure both baby and I were healthy enough for me to donate. Even though the process took a while, I know it’s in place to ensure the safety of the milk donations.
In July of 2017, we welcomed our second little girl and fourth child, Tinley. I resumed donating milk when she was 6 months old. I was determined to use the compensation I was getting from Tiny Treasures to pay off the medical bills from Tristan’s surgery. And I’m happy to report that we recently made the final payment on those medical bills!
Knowing that Tinley is our last child, I plan to donate for as long as Tiny Treasures will accept my milk. We have big plans to try to pay off student loans next! I’m so happy to be a part of the Tiny Treasures community and to have the opportunity to help fragile babies that need human milk the most. Working in healthcare, I love that I’m not only able to help others at work, but I’m also able to help others during my off hours. I’m so thankful that I’m able to provide my breast milk for babies truly in need! - Michelle