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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WMW- The Ultimate Gift

I would like to share the heart breaking and heart warming story of an wonderful mother, who is giving, in my opinion, the ultimate gift: Her breastmilk.

Jennifer Coias is an amazing activist for the rights of babies and children and writes many articles for "Peaceful Parenting", and is an admin for HM4HB in Brazil.  We were all so excited to hear that she was going to be having another baby, and many of us enjoyed seeing her photos of her growing belly, and reading about her plans for a peaceful HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean section). Her enthusiasm was almost contagious.

Then at 35 weeks the unthinkable happened and we learned that Jennifer's baby had died. Tears flowed throughout the Facebook Peaceful Parenting universe as we cried for her, for her family, and for her baby.

Peaceful Parenting wrote a lovely article  "From Despair to Donation: A mother looses her baby and shares his milk", about Jennifer, and said that when she is ready, Jennifer will tell her own story.

"No one could do justice to the story that Jennifer Coias has to share: her hope-filled pregnancy, VBAC waterbirth plans, the loss of her baby at 35 weeks, subsequent weeks of waiting for him to arrive on his own (induction post-cesearean is dangerous), being dropped by both her midwife and OB, struggling to find someone to take an ultrasound picture of her baby, being dropped by her birth photographer, her subsequent gentle HBAC (home birth after cesarean) with a midwife found at the last minute, all the while living in a South American country far from home, friends and family, in an area where few understood or supported her belief in birth and trust in her body and her baby. No one could tell her story of all that she has endured, overcame, processed, learned, and continues to struggle through today - 9 days postpartum. No one, that is, except for Jennifer herself. She is writing, and plans to share with the peaceful parenting community when the time is right. But for now, without detailing all the momentous moments that have led up to this week, we'd like to celebrate the amazing gift that Jennifer is giving back to the world. Even in the midst of tears and pain, liquid gold flows forth, and through this, Jennifer is saving the lives of babies around her.

Today marks the beginning of  World Milksharing Week. It is also the day Jennifer has pumped the most milk yet to share -- milk that was meant for Jude, but that which is now graciously given to babies in need, in his honor. A few days postpartum, a local Brazilian milk bank made its first stop at Jennifer's house to drop off bottles and pick up bags which she'd filled. While there are many milk banks across Brazil, actual pumps and pumping supplies are hard to come by, and very expensive when available. Most mothers who donate milk do so from hand expression and do not have a significant amount to give. Milk bank workers were astonished the following day when Jennifer had not only filled all their containers, but additional bags as well. This type of gift does not happen often, and everyone was thrilled at the quantity and quality of little lives that would be powerfully impacted as a result."
I won't presume to write about Jennifer's story and will wait, like everyone else, to hear it directly from her.  Instead I want to talk about the amazing gift that she is giving to fragile babies in need: The Ultimate gift of breastmilk.  The road to donating hasn't been easy for Jennifer, because while milk banks are plentiful in Brazil, breast pumps are few and far between and very expensive.  Even to have one shipped from America is incredibly costly because of the heavy duties involved, on top of the shipping expenses themselves!  Using her broken pump Jenn is filling the containers that the milk bank has given her faster than they can replace them. 

* If you have unused breastmilk bags that you can send to her, your gift would be hugely appreciated.*

It is an awesome woman who takes the time and effort and diligence to pump milk to donate to another baby.  It takes an incredible woman- a true hero- to do all of this after the loss of her own baby.   The words of over 2000 women can be read on the facebook page created to support Jenn and her family- I highly suggest reading  some of the comments so many people have written.  Awe Inspiring. 

Just like Jennifer.