Krysten Lawrence has both received breast milk from and donated to the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank. Below, Krysten shares her story about her experience.
On September 11th, 2018, our first experience with the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank began the day our boy/girl twins were born prematurely at 34 weeks 6 days and were admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Unless you live it, you really don’t know what goes on in the NICU. It’s an extremely difficult place for any mother or father to have their baby or babies in. It’s a place of unknowns, of uncertainties, of raw emotions, of stressful ups and downs but also a place where we have seen so much hope, care, compassion and love.
From birth, our twin daughter was more vulnerable in comparison to our twin son due to her lower birth weight, and for that reason we were immediately introduced to the possibility of donor breast milk. At that time, we were completely unaware that human donor breast milk was available. Since I was unable to initially provide my own breast milk in sufficient quantities because I had delivered twins prematurely, it became the best we could have ever hoped for. Having breastfed my now three-year-old healthy toddler for an extended time, I was a firm believer in the insurmountable advantages of human breast milk as well as its healing properties. I remember thinking; how could I ever thank this mom or moms for donating this life saving gift?
The donor milk gave our twin daughter the best and healthiest start at life by statistically and dramatically reducing her rate of serious medical complications and illnesses. Without a doubt, as a breastfeeding advocate and strong believer, I knew that this donated breast milk would positively impact her success rate in the NICU as a preemie.
We count ourselves very blessed and lucky that our two little lives excelled and pushed through the odds in a challenging place. Our twin daughter thrived on the donor milk and fortified EBM and our twin son was given little quantities of formula until my expressed breast milk was established. In conjunction with this heartwarming donation, we cannot thank enough for their success due to the exceptional team of doctors, phenomenal NICU nurses and staff who took care of our miracles round the clock. We will forever be grateful.
When our twins no longer required specialized care from the NICU, which is now thankfully a distant memory, our daily journey was difficult as one can imagine with twins and a toddler. We were constantly bottle-feeding EBM, and I was pumping around the clock as well as fortifying my breast milk for our twin girl. Until one day as the months went on, I was successfully able to breastfeed both the twins exclusively at breast. Thankfully, things seem to be getting a lot easier with time.
What makes me so proud as a mother and woman is when I made my decision. With some patience, persistence, time and effort, it makes me so proud to say that I gave back to this amazing program. I accomplished something I never thought possible in a million years. I pumped over 5 litres of my breast milk and donated it to the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank. I hope in my heart that my lifesaving milk will increase the likelihood of a baby or babies’ survival and help them thrive in the most fragile first moments of their lives. It is such an impactful gift for babies and families alike. We support this extremely important program for the most vulnerable because we’ve experienced it first-hand. Our hearts go out to the critically ill and premature babies that continue to fight for their lives. We cannot imagine the highs and lows that some of the parents will have to go through or are going through. This is my way to help a little in a big way.
My advice for mothers of one or multiples is that in you is strength you never knew existed. As women, we have the power to bring hope to those who are struggling with this incredible gift. If you are debating about donating, I hope that my story can help you contribute your supplementary impactful breastmilk to help save a life or two.
Krysten & Matthew Lawrence