The latest installment of the mini-documentary webseries, It's Cancer, Baby, tells the story of "The Lactation Goddess," the generous angel donor of surplus breast milk who helped provide nourishment to my daughter when I was unable to continue breastfeeding because of the chemotherapy I was receiving.
The realization that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed my daughter was a difficult blow on the heels of learning I had cancer. We had just started to get the hang of breastfeeding (which I found to be as difficult as many women say, but just as rewarding) when I realized that I would only be able to continue nursing her for a few more weeks before my breast milk would no longer be safe for her to drink.
The last times we shared this experience together were both emotional and bittersweet. And the day I packed up the breast pump and all of the equipment to return to the hospital was a sad day indeed. It was something I had so looked forward to sharing with my child, something in which I fervently believed. But I was going through the cancer treatment as much for my daughter as for myself. The decision was a no-brainer.
Finding a donor of breast milk for Maggie was a tremendous relief. We were able to supplement her formula with breast milk for the first three months of Maggie's life. Knowing she was getting the extra vitamins, nutrients, and protections against illness made us feel better about a less than ideal situation. However, I still felt little pangs of sadness and even jealousy every time I saw a breastfeeding mom. Sometimes I still do, actually.
Maggie is now 7 months old. Had I opted to "pump and dump" during the six months I was in chemotherapy, I would just now be trying to re-introduce Maggie to the breast. At this point, I honestly can't imagine it. She's now eating cereal and mashed up fruit and organic baby food along with her formula. She's holding her own bottle and drinking formula out of a sippy cup. She recently gave up her pacifier of her own accord. I don't see her moving backward at this point.
We adjusted to the circumstances we were given, and it worked out just fine.
Isn't that usually the way?
If you'd like to watch more of Joanna Montgomery's journey, subscribe to the CafeMom Studios YouTube Channel and you won't miss a thing.
Image via Joanna Montgomery