We were pregnant together, my best friend and I. Watching our bellies grow, shopping for maternity clothes, thriving on the little lives that were growing inside of us. We spent hours talking about how our births would go, the natural parenting measures we would take, the play dates we would have, and how we would raise our babies into children together.
Her labor was induced and after a rather traumatic delivery that resulted in a c-section so emergent that she was put completely under anesthesia, her beautiful son was born. I followed suit ten days later with the birth of my son, albeit a much easier delivery.
She had problems right off the bat with nursing. Her body just didn’t want to cooperate after such a traumatic labor and delivery. I watched her as she went back and forth to the lactation consultants looking for help; supplements and pumping, she just couldn’t get her milk supply up enough to feed her son. To make matters worse, she needed to return to work in several weeks and her plans to have a freezer full of milk for her baby were ruined.
Sitting with her one day, me nursing my son, her trying to nurse hers, I watched her eyes well up with tears as she told me that she didn’t know how she was going to keep him fed when she went back to work. Even though they made too much to qualify for WIC’s free formula program, their financial situation left them unable to afford formula. On top of that, she really did want him to have the nutritional benefits of breast milk.
I looked down at my enormously milk laden breasts, containing a supply that I had been trying to cut down since my son’s birth, and I thought about her situation. I looked up at her, and before I knew it I heard myself saying, “I’ll feed him.”
“You would do that?” she asked me, eyes wide open. I sat there for a minute, letting the idea sink in a little more as I mulled over everything that it would entail to be the sole food source for an entire other human being. Also, I’m not going to lie, it was a little creepy to think about; something coming out of my body and being handed over to someone else’s baby.
Eventually I broke the silence. “Would you want me to?” I asked her. “Is it weird?” She looked at me and I looked at her, the wheels turning in each of our heads.
“Yea, actually, I would really like that” she replied. “You eat organically, don’t smoke, aren’t on any medications, you are healthier than me! I really want him to have all the benefits of breast milk and to be honest I don’t know how I am going to pay for formula.”
We talked about it some more, working out the logistics, coming up with a plan, and at the end of the conversation I felt good. I felt good about the choice, I felt good about the decision, and I felt good that I was going to be able to help a friend and her precious son.
After a trip to the doctor for a blood test confirmation that I was clean and healthy, the doctor gave us the go ahead. With our boys being so close in age the doctor felt that I was a perfect match as a wet nurse. I was a little worried that my body might not be able to handle feeding two babies, but the human body is an amazing thing. Within days I had boobs like a porn star! They were absolutely huge. My normal small B cup size ballooned into a whopping double D that took my breath away every time I walked past a mirror.
Now let me clarify that I did not actually nurse her son. She provided me with all the pumping supplies I would need and every time I fed my baby, I pumped the other side for hers and froze the milk. Once a week we would meet up and exchange coolers, me bringing her one full of frozen milk and her bringing me an empty one for next time. It was kind of a hassle but the benefits were amazing; I was burning an enormous amount of calories each day which caused the baby weight to seemingly disappear, her baby was thriving, and my friend was immensely less stressed. I will admit it never really got less creepy to have her husband warming up my breast milk, but I just tried my best not to think about it.
I nursed my son and fed hers until they were a year old. When it was time to wean them, as excited as I was, it was a little bittersweet as it is for most moms. My baby was growing up and he didn’t need me in the same way anymore. What surprised me was that I felt that same bittersweet pang when I looked at her son as well.
Today our boys are three years old. I’m proud to look at them and know that because of two mothers who were willing to think outside of the box, they both got the best start in life that they could. Two dedicated moms wanting what was best for their kids, stepping outside of the societal norm, teaming up, and proving that breast can be best even when it isn’t your own.