During the Thanksgiving season, we often think fondly of family, friends and special memories. For Lynn Parkhurt, a Wisconsin mother of two, her gratitude led her to become a milk donor for The Milk Bank.
Both of her children, Drew and Frankie, were born premature, but Frankie’s pregnancy caused seven weeks of bed rest.
“My water broke with her at just shy of 26 weeks, and I was placed on hospital bed rest until she made her debut. For seven weeks, my family and friends took care of my son and helped my husband keep the normalcy of our household going while he worked and tried to take care of us all,” she said.
Bed rest can place you in a position of dependency on others, which is something Parkhurst quickly learned.
“They (friends and family) made meals, ran errands, visited me and prayed that entire time,” she said. “People I didn’t know were reaching out to me. People I graduated from high school with and hadn’t spoken to in 20 years were sending their thoughts. And it all supported me while my daughter continued to grow inside me and get stronger.”
It was that extra help and outpouring of love that sparked Parkhurst to give back by becoming a milk donor.
The Milk Bank: How did you learn about becoming a donor?
Parkhurst: My lactation consultant helped me with the process of becoming a donor. It’s women like her that cheer the loudest as we learn and sometimes struggle to do one of the most basic things as a mother: feed our children. I applaud all the efforts that they and organizations like The Milk Bank do to keep the tiniest of babies growing as healthy as they can.
TMB: You posted Facebook updates about donating; what would you tell your friends?
LP: The first one was basically that I was a donor. I don’t think that a lot of people realize that’s a possibility, I sure didn’t. I was just favored with extra milk I didn’t want to go to waste. Every time we sent more milk, we posted an update that it was going to the tiny little miracle babies in the Midwest.
TMB: How did you manage feeding Frankie and pumping to donate?
LP: My first donation was in August, and Frankie was 6 or 7 months old. It just got to the point where she was taking all she needed to and I was still freezing a good 24 ounces a day. She started sleeping through the night early on; she was about four months old. The two night feedings? I was used to it. I was still getting up and pumping, so those two pumpings went to the freezer.
TMB: What advice would you give to other donor moms?
LP: I think for me, it needed to come from the right place. It wasn’t a competition for me. It wasn’t the glory of it. As my body was giving it to me, I was willing to give it to somebody in need. I was blessed with that supply, and I remember sitting in the NICU with some of the moms that weren’t. It’s a job - it’s certainly a job. Feeding a child is certainly not easy. If it gets to the point to where it’s a job you don’t like or if it’s not coming from the right place, then don’t do it.
TMB: We know some moms have concerns about the donor process. What were your thoughts?
LP: There are obvious steps, (but) I think they seem on paper to be more of an uphill battle than they really are. The paperwork is the easiest part overall.
TMB: What ultimately made you want to become a donor?
LP: Growing, birthing and feeding a child is extremely hard work. I was lucky to have a full supply. Being in the NICU with both my kids, I know that’s not often the case, and if I had extra, why not help? Secondly, how could we repay all the kindness we received during those seven weeks and beyond from our friends, families, doctors, nurses and sometimes even strangers? It is impossible to sincerely thank and reciprocate that type of love and support, so I chose to pay it forward. Giving from the heart is what they did and this is my way of doing it too.