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Frigid temps, illness and breastfeeding

Frigid temps, illness and breastfeeding

With frigid temperatures blowing across the Midwest, The Milk Bank offers a few suggestions on breastfeeding during colder months and the presence of illness.

Intentional Living in 2019

Intentional Living in 2019

It’s the time for resolutions. There is such a demand on mothers to be everything and more for yourself, your significant other, your kids. After the miraculous process of growing and then birthing a baby, moms are expected to achieve superhero status in home organization, child-rearing and physical activity.

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

What do you do when you’re on bed rest for seven weeks? Well, not much, according to Lynn Parkhurst. “I just laid there. I learned how to crochet. I caught up on a lot of shows,” the Wisconsin mom of two said. Both of her…

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.

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

This blog post was originally published in 2017, when the Sweigart family received media attention for #JosiesImpact. Watch the segments from WISH-TV in Indianapolis and WJAC in Johnstown, PA, and view their Facebook page for recent pay-it-forward activity.

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 Sweigart’s 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

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

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

When Amber Lumpkin delivered her children, Gavin, 7, and Bella, 5, things went as expected. However, when her 8-month-old son Jasper was born the delivery wasn’t like his older siblings. “It was kind of a different road when Jasper was born,” she said. Born at…

Donor story: Oversupply of love

What do you do when you have an oversupply of breastmilk? You donate it to The Milk Bank, of course.     After filling all her freezers, Wisconsin resident and mom of two, Jessica Safransky Schacht said an internet search is what led her to…

5 tips for summertime pumping

5 tips for summertime pumping

Summer is here, and that means longer days, vacations and soaking up the sun.   However, there’s a downside to summer and it’s called sweat. It makes your hair wet, skin sticky, and it trickles down to places you didn’t know it could. 

From recipient to donor

From recipient to donor

Our job is to receive milk, pasteurize it and ship it to hospitals who give it to sick infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. While we know donor milk is the next best thing when mom’s milk is not available, we rarely get to hear from…