Monday, July 14, 2008

Moms with babies making a difference

There’s Something I Can Do (Angelina’s Story)

Our baby girl brought a beautiful new addition to our family 4 years ago. So many new things were added to our lives –love, joy, and gratitude. Other new things came into our lives – cribs, toys, diapers, etc. As Emma grew and changed she outgrew booties, bibs, strollers, and clothes. And, like all babies, she outgrew nursing.

This left me with a freezer full of milk and a heart full of emotions. It takes a lot of effort to pump this extra milk that is a part of me meant to be a part of her. There had to be something I could do with the extra milk. I didn’t want it wasted. I knew that people can donate blood to help others who are injured. Could I donate this milk to a baby who needed it?

I searched the Internet for a few hours and came back with nothing. Sadly I threw a freezer full of breast milk away. Wishing for a solution. Wishing for something better.

Two years later I was blessed with another healthy pregnancy and a baby boy. I knew this time that there had to be a better way to do this. I could not throw away all that milk again.

In October of 2006, I watched an Oprah feature on the International Breast Milk Project (IBMP). Jill Youse spoke about breast milk sent to Africa. My excitement went through the roof! I just knew this was it. For my entire life, I wanted to help those who are needy but what could I really do? The answer found me that day.

I signed up on-line and sent my application in to become a donor. The people on the site were so professional. They kept me up-to-date every step of the way. The organization provided shipping costs for the milk. They also can send a hospital grade pump and storage bags for those who need them. I arranged for postal pick-ups of milk shipments from home. IBMP’s attention to detail was impressive. Their screening process ensured only healthy milk found its way overseas.

I became even more involved by becoming a chapter president and began coordinating fundraisers. My life changed. I now lived my beliefs. I even got to meet a man from South Africa who had seen firsthand the urgent need for these shipments. I knew after speaking with him that we did not just transport milk. We sent hope.

I struggle to fit everything into my busy schedule: my kids, my husband, my friends, and household tasks. Life runs full speed ahead. I won’t pretend that I don’t wonder sometimes, “Can I keep up?”

But then I see firsthand the impact on my children. My little girl prays at night, “Thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Brother, cheeseburgers, and the little boys and girls in Africa.”

Angelina from Illinois

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