7 coolers of breastmilk....

When I heard about Jayden's story I couldn't help but be moved and inspired to get involved. My own mother struggles with addiction and I had been through foster care and different types of juvenile homes. I could relate to Jayden, and I feel grateful that she has the people that she does in her life who instinctively did what was right for her. You see, Jayden survives on donated breastmilk. You know the saying "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, in this case it takes a village to save a life. 
This was taken from the Milk For Jayden website:
"Jayden was born cocaine and alcohol addicted, with congenital syphilis, at 31 weeks gestation. She had no skin on the palms of her hands or feet and had to have skin grafts. They could find no formula that Jayden could tolerate well, but settled on the one that she had the "least severe reaction to."

 When she was about eight weeks old, she was assigned a foster parent, who came to do kangaroo care with her for eight days before she took her home.  Jayden was completely blind and profoundly deaf, and would need to be accustomed to "mom's" smell and touch before they sent her home. When she went home, she was the most critical discharge they have ever had from that NICU, which routinely sees the sickest of babies.  Basically, with tears in their eyes, the nurses sent Jayden home to die. Jayden was insulin dependant (with critically unstable blood sugars, typically either below 60 or above 400), on oxygen 24 hours a day, and set off her apnea monitor 6-10 times a day. In order to set off a monitor, she would have to not breathe for many seconds at a time. She had gained and lost the same three ounces since birth, and was no more than four and a half pounds.
 Her foster mother asked over and over again of anybody who had authority why this baby couldn't be on breastmilk, shouldn't this baby be on breast milk, what did she have to do to get this baby on breastmilk? Over and over, she was basically told that this was a medicaid baby and that the state wouldn't PAY for banked milk (which costs a minimum of 4 dollars an ounce, and has been pasteurized) for a MEDICAID baby. Finally, one day, when Jayden was literally activly dying, an infectious disease doctor looked at her foster mom (who is a friend of mine because of foster work and doula work) and said, "I won't tell you NOT to give her breastmilk. We know that it would give her the best chance!" So, we got her some frozen breastmilk.

 With her first bottle of human milk, Jayden's blood sugar regulated.  She is typically somewhere around 120 now. Within the first three weeks, she regained her sight and hearing. Her new pediatrician says that when somebody is actively dying their brain will shut off all non-essential functions--and hearing and sight are non-essential functions. The first week on breastmilk she started to only set off her apnea monitor during the night's deepest sleep...and only then typically once a night. Within three weeks, they took it off of her completely, because she just didn't set it off any more. The first week she gained and KEPT ON four ounces. The next week three. The next week SEVEN.  At this point, the new pediatrician put her arms around the Foster Mom's shoulders and said, "If you hadn't given that baby human milk when you did, she would be dead today.  You are a hero."  Eight weeks later she had gained nearly four pounds. When she was nearly nine and a half months old she was eleven and a half pounds! We now have full cooperation with her new pediatrician and the state to give her donated human milk, no questions asked."
Acts such as these have always inspired me to continue to follow my instincts. It almost always pays off. It reminded me of the story of the mother who did skin to skin with her son who was born and then declared dead by the doctor. He came "back to life" through the power of skin to skin and then started breathing regularly when the mother put breastmilk on her fingertip and into the childs mouth. It's simply amazing what we as mothers are capable of. It truly never ceases to amaze me.
My first instinct when reading about Jayden was that I wanted to get involved and that the upcoming Breastfeeding Challenge seemed like the perfect chance to do it. So, I contacted Kelly ofbaby beloved, inc. to see if it would be OK to organize a milk drive for Jayden during the BF Challenge and she gave me the go ahead and I went to town. It was incredible to see the response to what I was doing from the community! I started getting e mails from mothers who wanted to donate. Many had beautiful stories about how they had this extra milk they didn't know what else to do with. One mother who had a very large donation said that her baby was in the NICU and she had to pump the entire time and had this surplus of milk because of it. They lived in the U.P. and they were heading home with their healthy, happy and successfully breastfeeding baby so they were more than happy to be able to drop the milk off for baby Jayden. I was more than happy to take it off of their hands!
Yesterday was the day of the 2010 Breastfeeding Challenge and I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am to have coordinated such a successful milk drive!! I could not believe how much milk we ended up getting! Many of the women wanted more information about how they could continue to donate and some had said that they had passed along the info to other friends who were interested in helping. I think that the ripple effects of this effort are pretty grand and I am thrilled. I can only hope that the people who care for Jayden have all the milk they will ever need - or at least be pretty close now. To watch the women of my community gather and give selflessly like this brought me close to tears more than once. It was very overwhelming. 
Bfc and Jayden
All of these women (and more!) donated - and I was glad that the woman on the bottom right brought hers in coolers (and yes - full of her milk!) that she was willing to let me borrow because there was absolutely no way we would have been able to fit it all. :)
There were even women pumping on site to donate for Jayden! We had 2 pumps set up and there was a line for them! It was so encouraging to watch how far and willing mothers from all backgrounds came together and did everything they could to help. 
The breastfeeding Challenge was a hit as well with 30 babies latched on at 11:00AM - including Zander, Kiyra and I who were front and center!
Directly after the Challenge we hit the road packed to the brim with coolers full of Milk For Jayden! It was about a 2.5 hour drive to Lake Orion from Grand Rapids. It was 2 moms, 2 babies and 1 eight year old. It was fun though, but we did have our moments. Regardless, we got there and this is what we brought them....
There was no way of counting how many ounces we ended up raising. It all happened way too fast at far too much volume. But, it's a LOT of milk.
This was one of three trays that we put in the freezer from ONE mom who pumped for ONE week. HOLY MOLY!
Got Milk?
You do now! 
We filled their freezer - plus two more they had at their house - and they STILL had to call in back up!! The back up called in is also currently caring for Jayden's brother who also needs the milk. What a cutie! Look at that smile!
It was all worth it to help save baby Jayden's life!! It was amazing to be able to do this. To read about something like this, become determined to get involved and then get to sit down and play with the little girl who moved you to do it all. She is such an incredible little ball of joy. It was amazing to be one of the many women to help her on her journey. 
Bfc and Jayden1
The Lovely Miss Jayden
Thanks to all of the women who came and donated their precious milk - and a very special thank you to the babies who shared so nicely with Jayden. YOU made this amazing! Don't ever forget the example you have helped make of the power of mother and community. 
Also - if any of you who donated want to leave your name and a message for Jayden, please do. 
If you would like to donate or get involved - PLEASE, feel free to contact Courtenay @ grabowski4@comcast.net for details. They are always in need of more milk - so if you can help, please do.

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