Jasper while in the NICU. Photo provided by Amber Lumpkin.
Jasper while in the NICU. Photo provided by Amber Lumpkin.

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 38 weeks, Jasper had trouble breathing and his doctors placed him in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For seven days, Jasper received oxygen to help his breathing. Lumpkin previously breastfed her other children, so there was no doubt that she was going to do the same with Jasper. Those plans came to a halt when her milk didn't fully come in, which meant Jasper wasn’t getting enough to eat. “I just knew I wanted to nurse him, but I knew my milk hadn’t come in yet,” she said. Because Jasper had trouble breathing, his team of doctors used a nasal cannula to keep his oxygen levels up, but even with the tubes and wires, Lumpkin was determined to give him breast milk. “You’re fighting where the hoses and tubes are,” she said of nursing him with a nasal cannula. To help Jasper get the nourishment he needed, Lumpkin tried syringe feeding him the little milk she pumped, but he didn’t like that method. On day two of his NICU stay, Lumpkin said doctors introduced her to the idea of using donor milk until her milk supply was established. She continued using the syringe, but found that using a supplemental nursing system with the donor milk to be a "game changer." “His sugar was dropping some and he needs some (milk). They (doctors) were like ‘What about donor milk?’ ‘Are you OK with that?’ And I’m like yes; definitely, I am OK with that versus formula.” For Lumpkin and her husband Scott, accepting donor milk was an immediate “yes” because she had donated milk to The Milk Bank when Gavin was born. “With Gavin, I had so much milk left in the freezer (and) I didn’t just want to throw it away; that stuff is very precious.”

Bella, Jasper and Gavin. Photo provided by Amber Lumpkin.
Bella, Jasper and Gavin. Photo provided by Amber Lumpkin.

Once Jasper started receiving the donor milk, Lumpkin realized things had become full circle for her. “It really kind of hit home to me. When I had to use it for Jasper, I was so happy that somebody donated so I didn’t have to have formula,” she said. “I remember looking to Scott and saying I was going to donate again. Somebody did this for Japer and we need to do it.” So far, Lumpkin has donated about 750 ounces with Jasper and she donated 407 ounces with Gavin. “I wanted to be able to do my part and I could help other babies and moms in that situation,” she said. “I’m very thankful to whomever donated those six ounces.”

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