"Liquid Gold" Milk & Colostrum ~ Jude's Milk, pumped by his mom, Jennifer, and donated to Brazilian babies.
No one could do justice to the story that Jennifer Coias has to share: her hope-filled pregnancy, VBAC waterbirth plans, the loss of her baby at 35 weeks, subsequent weeks of waiting for him to arrive on his own (induction post-cesearean is dangerous), being dropped by both her midwife and OB, struggling to find someone to take an ultrasound picture of her baby, being dropped by her birth photographer, her subsequent gentle HBAC (home birth after cesarean) with a midwife found at the last minute, all the while living in a South American country far from home, friends and family, in an area where few understood or supported her belief in birth and trust in her body and her baby. No one could tell her story of all that she has endured, overcame, processed, learned, and continues to struggle through today - 9 days postpartum. No one, that is, except for Jennifer herself. She is writing, and plans to share with the peaceful parenting community when the time is right. But for now, without detailing all the momentous moments that have led up to this week, we'd like to celebrate the amazing gift that Jennifer is giving back to the world. Even in the midst of tears and pain, liquid gold flows forth, and through this, Jennifer is saving the lives of babies around her.
Today marks the beginning of World Milksharing Week. It is also the day Jennifer has pumped the most milk yet to share -- milk that was meant for Jude, but that which is now graciously given to babies in need, in his honor. A few days postpartum, a local Brazilian milk bank made its first stop at Jennifer's house to drop off bottles and pick up bags which she'd filled. While there are many milk banks across Brazil, actual pumps and pumping supplies are hard to come by, and very expensive when available. Most mothers who donate milk do so from hand expression and do not have a significant amount to give. Milk bank workers were astonished the following day when Jennifer had not only filled all their containers, but additional bags as well. This type of gift does not happen often, and everyone was thrilled at the quantity and quality of little lives that would be powerfully impacted as a result.
This past Wednesday, Jennifer pumped 29 ounces. Today, she finished with 40.5 ounces of her perfect milk. And she has been doing all of this with an old, used, broken pump -- one held together by a contraption she rigged with a bungee cord. Few people use pumps in Brasilia, and the cost of living (including purchasing or ordering items) is astronomical. The nearest location Jennifer could rent a much needed pump from was Sao Paulo. The price tag? $300.00 for the first month alone.
We brainstormed ways to help - to meet the need. We had to get Jennifer a hospital grade pump so she could get her milk up and going and put it to baby-saving use, and quickly. To rent a pump in the States and ship it would cost almost as much as renting within Brazil. It would also not be guaranteed to reach Jennifer for the next two weeks, Brazil charges a 100% customs fee on all imported items, it could be held for questioning at customs, and if any damage was done, it would need to be replaced (a $2,000.00 fee). As the result of many of these factors, few people living in Brazil have friends or family mail things to them. In fact, Jennifer has grown accustomed to bringing needed items back with her via plane when she is home in the States for visits.
With engorgement and clogged ducts setting in, and a pump barely hanging on, family and friends gathered resources and ideas, and put out a call for those willing to help on Jennifer's Facebook support page (found here at Facebook.com/Love4JC). Through heart-felt donations from individuals, including a couple mothers who had lost babies of their own, intactivists Jennifer had worked with in the past (the Barefoot Intactivist, among others), and a gift from The International Breastfeeding Symbol Store, we were able to secure a quality pump for Jennifer, as well as a few much needed breast shields and supplies. The pump is currently on its way via flight (with a friend) to Brazil and we all hope it will be in Jennifer's hands soon.
While there is so much more to this story to tell, we simply had to take a step back to look in awe at the hero Jennifer is. Truly, she is the epitome of all that World Milksharing Week represents: liquid love bottled for any baby and mother in need.
Love & Light for Jennifer Coias & Family
My Heart: For Jennifer
World Milksharing Week Homepage
Breastmilk Donation Resource Page
Human Milk 4 Human Babies
Eats on Feets
Joshua's Story: Why I Chose Another Mother's Milk