NICU Awareness Month

By Megan Lee September 18, 2017

No one gets pregnant and expects to have their babies end up in the NICU nor do we as women think that we are going to face a challenge when breastfeeding.

My name is Megan Lee and my story starts about two and a half years ago on January 15th. My water broke unexpectedly about 30 weeks along. My twins, Declan and Breck, were not due until March 23rd. While I was being driven to the hospital, I was hoping what happened was not my amniotic fluid. Needless to say it was. I was kept in the hospital for 2 days and given magnesium while the boys were able to have two steroid shots. The evening of the 16th, I started going into labor. January 17th at 3:40 p.m. Declan Jenkins was born naturally weighing in at 4 pounds. We anticipated Breck to come shortly after but that was not the case. 6 hours later at 8:41pm I had a cesarean. Breck was born at 3 pounds 11 ounces.

Both boys were whisked away to the NICU immediately and I don't really remember much from the next 24 hours. I remember a lady coming in and helping me two hours after I gave birth to Breck to pump. But when I finally was able to hold them and be somewhat mentally unclouded I do remember a nurse telling me that they seem to be doing so well that we should be out of the NICU within a month.

Everything was such a whirlwind like remembering immediately to pump every 2 hours and going from taking care of myself to taking care of two little boys as much as I could with them being in the NICU. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the next 4 days with the boys snuggling and doing the skin on skin. On the fourth day, one of the doctors pulled me aside and told me that they were going to give Breck an x-ray because he seemed fussy and one of the nurses just had a hunch to do so. I had been warned of the up and downs in the NICU and tried not to get too worked up about this. The X-ray revealed that Breck had a hole in his intestines and was going to be rushed to emergency surgery in hopes of cleaning out any stuff that had made its way into his body cavity and also to repair the hole.

I had never felt paralyzing fear like I did the day of his first surgery. They took his intestines and brought them up and made an ostomy bag. 6 weeks later he would have a reconnect surgery. The only thing I could do at that point was pump. All I remember was crying my eyes out trying to pump. It's a memory I'll never forget.

Another memory I'll never forget is the surgery team not knowing that I was behind when together they reaffirmed amongst each other, "we got this, we can do this". For some reason, in that moment, I truly realized the severity of the situation but also loved witnessing this moment between the doctors and the anesthesiologist who were about to work on my son.

Unfortunately, I'm a gal that has anxiety and at one point I wasn't sure if I was going to leave the hospital with both of my kids. It's a feeling I would never want anybody to go through. It was the longest 4 hours of my entire life. I'll never forget it to this day and when I found out he was out of surgery and everything went okay, I broke down. I thanked God a million times. Even though I knew we had a long road to recovery and nothing could have prepared me for seeing that little body hooked up to a ventilator, I somehow knew everything was going to be okay. Even though I knew things were going to be okay it was extremely hard for me to be in the room with Breck to see him on the machine and it tore me up deeply and severely. I continue to feel guilty about that but I'm working through it.

The next few weeks were full of ups and downs as goes the NICU. Eventually, I wasn't able to supplement my boys like I was able to in the beginning. I never made much over an ounce and a half but when they're that little that was enough. They asked me if I would be interested in donor milk. I thought it was the coolest thing that this resource was available to me and I said absolutely. The milk bank provided donor milk for me when I wasn't able to give both of my boys enough which is another super emotional thing for me.

Here are both my boys in the NICU with all these other people taking care of them and everyone keeps telling me pump, breast feed, pump, breastfeed and it's the only thing you can do for them right now. I felt like the biggest failure as a mother before I even really began to be a mom because I wasn't able to provide them enough. The Milk Bank helped relieve some of that anxiety and pressure on top of everything else. And I'll be forever grateful to that.

Week six in the NICU was scheduled for Breck's reconnect surgery. I had prayed prior to this to God so many times to not let me feel like I did the first time. He answered those prayers. I was a cool and collected mom. I just let go and let God. Breck came out of surgery and I cried again because I knew then I was for sure leaving that hospital with both of my boys. 

It's very interesting to me that my boys were in such good shape and good health in the beginning that they believed they would be coming home with me within a month. Declan, I believe broke my water to save his brother Breck from what could have been a worse situation.

Even after two surgeries Declan & Breck only came home two days apart, two months after they were born. It was only a week after Breck's second surgery.  It goes to show you that these babies in the NICU are truly great fighters and stronger than you could ever imagine.

Take Your Baby to Work

By Jami Marvin, August 29, 2017

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When I tell people that I was able to bring my son to work with me until he was six months old, I am often met with others telling me how great of an idea that is and that I was lucky to have had that opportunity. Believe me, I did not take that for granted. Knowing that my next little one will also be joining me in the office until he/she is six months old is a big comfort because I know the impact it makes on our breastfeeding relationship. My son spent the vast majority of his first six months of life by my side. He continued to breastfeed until he was 23 months old, and was actually quite difficult to transition to taking bottles at daycare. I learned a lot with my son, and I plan on using what I learned to make sure the next time around goes even more smoothly.

There are many things to consider when bringing your baby to work with you, especially when you have a full-time job, because you basically spend as much time at the office as you do at home. This can require strategic planning and sometimes doubling up on supplies. I made sure that I always had diapers, wipes and extra clothes (for him and myself) in my desk. I also had a travel bassinet and a bouncer that stayed in my office. It’s not all sunshine and daises when you are in the middle of the work day and have to change yet another diaper on a tired grumpy baby, but we made it work. When he was old enough to sit up, I brought a walker in for him to be able to move around a bit. He really liked that! He also began crawling while at work with me. It’s so nice to not have to miss those milestones! He would often crawl out of my office and down the hall to visit my coworkers. That’s when I knew it was time to get him started in daycare. A mobile baby is much more difficult to bring to the office.

The most important thing I had to remember, was that my son was my responsibility. I was not bringing him to work with me so that I could save on daycare and have my coworkers help watch him; I was bringing him to work so that he could continue to feed on demand and spend as much time with me as he needed. I did a lot of baby wearing and he came with me everywhere. I didn’t let the fact that my baby was with me stop be from being an effective employee. The program can only work if you are actually working. Sometimes that involved creative thinking on how to accomplish a task safely and effectively, but at the end of the day, the job was done.

At home, I made sure I had some “me” time. I didn’t need a lot of it, but it was nice to run to the store by myself once in a while, or take a hot shower without being needed. Being a mom is tough, and support from both the work place and at home makes a huge difference.

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It was difficult at times to juggle being a mom, and an employee. It was also one of the most rewarding experiences for myself to know that I was there for the very early milestones and my coworkers loved the opportunity to get baby snuggles as often as they needed. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week focus was on Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. The policy that The Milk Bank has that allows their employees who are breastfeeding mothers the opportunities to bring our babies to work with us is a prime example of this mission. I truly have the best job in the world.

In October, I will be back at work again with a new little one. I definitely feel more prepared having been through this before. I am excited to once again have this opportunity, and I’m sure that there will be many pictures shared on social media in the near future!

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week

By Sarah Long, August 2, 2017

World Breastfeeding Week, organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. The theme for 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. The intersection between the nonprofit donor milk movement and this year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week, National Breastfeeding Month, and Black Breastfeeding Week centers around equity.

The Milk Bank is uniquely positioned as a community-based milk bank to provide equitable breastfeeding support and resources.  In addition to providing pasteurized donor human milk to premature infants and others, our core programs include collaboration, education and promotion of the awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding and human milk as the optimal first food for all infants. The Milk Bank is expanding the support that women have received in the hospital with the goal of extending the duration of breastfeeding by launching a community support program. The Milk Bank’s Breastfeeding Resources & Assistance (B.R.A.) program helps to provide breastfeeding families access to counseling and support from lactation professionals, including an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or CLS by offering free skilled lactation support, weight checks and pump checks, while promoting the value of human milk.

If you or someone you know is in need of lactation assistance or support please contact The Milk Bank to make an appointment for the B.R.A. program at 317-536-1670.

The Milk Bank has new pasteurization equipment

The Milk Bank has new pasteurization equipment

We recently added new equipment that helps increase the efficiency of our pasteurization process. 


The first piece of equipment is the milk filler.

The filler ensures that all bottles are filled to the precise amount each time. As you can see in the video below, the milk travels from the flask through a stainless-steel straw and silicon tube that is latched into place on the machine.  


The machine limits the amount of milk that is dispensed into the bottles through a stainless-steel funnel. After each batch of milk, the tubing is changed and the stainless-steel pieces are thoroughly washed and sanitized.


The second piece of equipment we’ve added is our handheld capping tool.  

The “capper” spins and tightens the cap on each bottle and when the proper torque is reached, it stops. This is key to making sure caps are consistent and sealed tight. 


Also, we have upgraded our induction sealer. After the capper, the bottles go on the conveyor belt of the sealer and under an induction heater head. The head of the unit creates an electromagnetic field that heats only the foil seals inside the lids. While the sealer is sometimes called a heater, it doesn’t put off heat like a space heater. 


In addition, the sealer has sensors on it which can detect if a cap is missing foil, is loose or if it is crooked.  The bottles that are found to have a fault are rejected and then inspected by a pasteurization technician who will either rebottle the milk or replace the lid and seal it again.


 Last, but certainly not least is the mixer.  The mixer is used to gently homogenize the milk to achieve complete consistency throughout an entire batch. 


This process was previously done by hand, with no way to continuously mix the milk during the bottling process. Now, we can gently mix the milk while it is being dispensed into the prepared bottles.

It has taken a process that was once 20 minutes and reduced it down to five, as well as helping to reduce the physical strain on the technicians and achieving better consistency for the thousands of bottles we fill each week. 


While all of the equipment is a great addition for us, we still take the extra step to recheck seals because we want to make sure our bottles arrive at hospitals in tip-top shape.  In fact, we will still use the by hand methods when needed.

Volunteer at the Indiana State Fair

Volunteer at the Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair is quickly approaching and we need your help!


The Milk Bank has partnered with the Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition, Metro Indy Lactation Coalition and Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative to provide breastfeeding mothers with a comfortable place to tend to their little ones.


This year, we are proud to announce that we will have an RV located on the northeast corner of the Family Fun Park. Families can also feel free to use the Red Cross station located next to Hook’s Pharmacy. 


“Breastfeeding advocates from across the state were excited and enthused that last year, the State Fair took on lactation stations for Hoosier mothers as an integral part of the infrastructure of the state fair. In an effort to improve this important accommodation, The Milk Bank with support from the Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition, Metro Indy Lactation Coalition, have secured an RV and location for an air conditioned, comfortable place for breastfeeding and pumping mothers,” said Sarah Long, Director of Clinical Operations at The Milk Bank.


We are thankful to Mount Comfort RV for their generous RV donation and support of the lactation stations.


While we are looking forwarding to serving all the mothers and families,  it takes a lot of help to make sure things run smoothly. We are seeking volunteers to staff the lactation stations throughout the duration of the fair, which will be Aug. 4 through the 20th. 


If you are interested in volunteering, please click here  to sign up!

 


 

Making an impact in Indianapolis and beyond

Making an impact in Indianapolis and beyond

Patricia and Mark Sweigart faced the one thing parents never hope to face: losing their child. Their infant daughter died 18 days after her birth.


While the grief was overwhelming for the first- time parents, Patricia said they wanted to turn their tragedy into a mission of kindness. The couple created Josie’s Impact cards and did nice things for the people that helped them during Josie’s 18 days of life.


“Eighteen days doesn’t sound like a lot. She just wasn’t this dying baby that was lying in an incubator. It was 18 days of our lives that we stayed praying with her.”


Patricia said they heard about another couple that lost a child doing good deeds for others on the anniversary of the child’s death and decided to do something similar.


 The cards have a picture of Josie on one side and the other side tells a bit of the Sweigarts story and instructions to do a good deed. When people did a good deed, they would leave a Josie’s Impact card behind to remind others to pay it forward. They did this for 18 days to represent the number of days Josie impacted their lives.

Josie's Impact cards

Josie's Impact cards


For the 18-day mission, the Sweigarts did something nice for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit staff where Josie was born, took food the NICU parent’s lounge and they even dropped off cupcakes to our staff at The Milk Bank. 


“Throughout the year, I didn’t understand why it was 18 days. I was able to feel what a parent’s love was. She was our only child. She was meant to help hundreds of people. It was a bigger picture than just my family. It wasn’t just to teach me a lesson to trust in God more, it was to help other people open their eyes. It makes you think that you never know what’s going on.” 

The couple started their mission on March 18, Josie’s birthday and since then, they have seen the cards go to 15 states, the United Kingdom and it is still going!


Patricia said they wanted to include The Milk Bank in their 18 days because Josie received donor milk and Patricia became a bereavement donor.


When mom’s own milk is not available, research shows that donor milk is the next best thing, especially for premature infants like Josie.


Josie was born at 28 weeks and Patricia said they knew she might have challenges being born prematurely, but things took a turn for the worst a lot faster than they expected.


“I got diagnosed with preeclampsia at 25 weeks. I was admitted (to the hospital) at 27 weeks and at 28 weeks they (doctors) had to do an emergency C-section,” Patricia said. “Her survival rate was 90 percent. We knew there would be bumps in the road, but we didn’t think she wouldn’t survive.”


By the two-week mark of Josie’s life, things started to look bleak as she was showing signs of infection, but there were some signs of hope.


 “…They told us she had a 50 percent chance of making it through the night. She made it through the night and all her numbers started to look better. When I left the hospital Monday night, the doctor said she was fine.”


However, that hope was fleeting and things quickly worsened.

“We got a phone call at 5:21 the next day that she had coded. We rushed to the hospital, we saw them doing the chest compressions and counting. Her time of death ended up being 6:30. They are pretty sure it was probably pneumonia.”


While the loss of their daughter will forever linger in their hearts, the Sweigerts are thrilled to be welcoming a baby boy soon.  At the time we spoke with her, Patricia was 29 weeks and doing fine. 


“We’re definitely going to do something next year,” she said of doing another mission of kindness. 

*Update* Patricia and Mark are the proud parents of a healthy baby boy. Mom is doing great.*


 

Breastfeeding advocate raises money for The Milk Bank

Breastfeeding advocate raises money for The Milk Bank

Since 2014, Lasley, an IBCLC and Indianapolis resident, has done something she calls her birthday quest. Instead of receiving gifts, she has opted to help others by raising money for organizations that have had an influence in her life. This year she chose The Milk Bank. 

Bereavement mom finds healing in donating milk

Bereavement mom finds healing in donating milk

Anticipating a new baby is a joy for any parent. It brings the thrill of choosing a name, decorating a nursey and of course, picking out clothes. However, what do you do when all of that suddenly comes to a halt because doctors tell you your baby has zero chance of survival

Dine and Donate at Chipotle and City Barbecue

Dine and Donate at Chipotle and City Barbecue

The Milk Bank is hosting two dine and donate events this month. The first being at Chipotle inside of the Fashion Mall food court, 8702 Keystone Crossing.

From 4 to 8 p.m. on May 11th, bring in the flyer, show it on your phone, or tell the cashier you are dining to donate for The Milk Bank and 50 percent of the proceeds from that time frame will go to us.

The second event is May 12th at City Barbecue IUPUI, 621 W. 11th St., Indianapolis, IN. Print the flyer below and 25 percent of your purchase will be donated back to us.  

We hope that you will help our cause by filling your belly, which will help us fill the bellies of fragile infants with nutritious pasteurized donor human milk. 

 

 

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Donor story: Donor mom comes full circle with her act of love

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