“My pregnancy started out like any other: with morning sickness and excitement of having a new bundle joy to love. As a first-time mom, it was all new and exciting. At our 20-week anatomy scan, we were so excited to see our little boy. To see his little fingers and ten little toes, and hear his heartbeat. As we were going through all the anatomy, everything is looking great. The ultrasound tech gets to the heart and spends a lot of extra time there trying to get all the right pictures. I started to get nervous but did not say anything to my husband. As soon as the ultrasound was over, we were called into a room to chat with the doctor. That’s when my worst nightmare came true.
There was something wrong with our baby. His heart did not look quite right. Our sweet little guy we had never gotten to hold. From then on, it was a whirlwind of doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds. We finally got confirmation that our little boy had transposition of the great arteries and a ventricular septal defect. One could imagine the emotions and questions swirling around my head: why was this happening to me, how could my little baby have a heart defect? Being a military family and an ICU nurse myself, I had experienced heartbreak and witnessed gut-wrenching diagnoses myself, but nothing compares to hearing your baby will have to have open heart surgery during his first week of life and while he is in the cardiac ICU, you more than likely won’t get to hold him.
Fast forward a bit, as we were preparing for our delivery journey, I was told by our cardiologist that breast milk was best for our baby. He needed it to heal from the surgery, and for heart babies, doctors prefer it for the first two weeks of life especially. I was given to the option to exclusively pump or use donor milk if I chose to do so. So, after delivery of our 8 lb., 13 oz. baby boy, I sat by his bed side in the ICU day and night and pumped every three hours to establish my supply, all while our baby was on the ventilator fighting for his life, so small but the strongest human I’ve ever seen. Once surgery was over, he was fed breast milk through a tube in his nose until he was strong enough to eat his whole bottle. The nurses told me that, due to stress and other circumstances, a lot of moms in the ICU must use donor milk because they’re unable to produce enough milk for one reason or the other.
Fast forward a bit more, we made it through surgery, discharged after a 16-day stay in the hospital. I decided to continue to exclusively pump. We are now three months into our journey, and I have a healthy baby, more than enough milk in the freezer, and enough extra milk to continue to share with families in need. Maybe my milk can help other families just like us.”