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The Odd, the Impossible, or the Unexpected

Is donating breast milk an impossible feat?

Few of us wake up in the morning expecting to encounter the odd, unexpected, or impossible. Each day, we assume that life will pretty much roll along, and we’ll do what we usually do, see what we usually see, and go on our merry way. Sometimes, though, we do come across things that are seemingly odd, unexpected, or impossible. The key word is “seemingly.”

Record-setting donations

Who would have thought that one woman could — in just five years’ time — produce and donate 16,321 fluid ounces of milk? That’s about 128 gallons of milk! Impossible? No! Guinness World Records recognized Amelia Boomker, a technical analyst and mother of four, for just that. (And reportedly, it’s an undercount: About 7,000 ounces of milk donated in 2005 were not included in that total.)

How is it that one woman can make — and donate to someone else’s children — so much milk beyond her own children’s consumption, when so many women say they don’t make enough to feed even one child?

Super-human ability?

During the past 30 years, I’ve heard hundreds of women say they don’t have enough milk. I’ve heard the media say that formula is a very acceptable alternative for all of those women who “can’t breastfeed,” or “can’t make enough milk.” Does Ms. Boomker have some kind of super-human power? Does she have super-human breasts?

No, not at all! Ms. Boomker has a super sense of generosity and commitment to doing the right thing — for her own children and others. But she manages to do the seemingly impossible with much the same anatomy as other mothers.

Lifelong difference

Many women don’t know about milk banks and milk often ends up discarded. I spoke with Ms. Boomker and Kim Updegrove of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America about milk banking, including the process and what mothers should look for in an milk bank.

All women have the opportunity to make a lifelong difference for children — their own, or someone else’s. Some do breastfeed for a year, or longer. All too often, breastfeeding in public, they are looked upon as odd. Some do express their milk for months; one mother I know had a child who was completely unable to take oral feedings, and she expressed her milk for over 2 years. Such dedication may be unexpected in a country where formula is ubiquitous, but she did it. And expressing “super” quantities of milk to donate for someone else’s child? It does seem impossible, but clearly, it has been done.

Not all of us need to do the odd, the unexpected, or the impossible. But maybe we need to look for those opportunities, and believe that we can.

Have you considered donating breast milk? Tell me in the comments below!

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