The dairy is closed

I pumped milk 4-5 times a day, every day. Or almost every day. It wasn’t easy. Actually, I did it with Annika too in order to give her milk at daycare. But with her, I actually had the reward of being able to nurse her as well. I pumped in the morning, at work, evening and overnight for 11 months before I finally threw in the towel.

But it was way harder in the NICU. I’d pump first thing in the morning – with a busy 3yo demanding my attention at the same time. Then I’d try in the NICU a couple of times. But I had to work it around rounds if I could and around the nurses’ care times (8,11,2,5). You’d think taking 20 minutes out a couple times a day would be manageable, but it was HARD. It was more than 20 min, too. Set up, clean up. And then squeeze in some quality time, holding Lina if possible… Even though I had “nothing to do” but sit around in the NICU all day, it always seemed like I was pressed for time.

Every day I thought about hanging it up. When Cole died, I thought it was over. I was only getting 1/4 oz total for each session. It was like this for almost a week. I thought yes, my milk is best, but formula would be OK too. Maybe a non-stressed mommy would be better. Still, I couldn’t quite bear to give it up. So I didn’t. I pumped right up until the very last day.

I had a freezer FULL of milk. She had come up to full feeds, and I was barely making enough every day to meet her needs by the end, but she started out so slow that I had built up a lot. She started taking only a 1/2 cc (ml) per day and moved up slowly from there. She was stuck at 3 cc’s for the longest time.

When Lina died, I remember one of the first things I thought about was “what am I going to do with all her milk”? For some reason that seemed like a critical question. I started doing research. Can I donate it? Where’s the nearest milk bank? Turns out, I probably couldn’t donate it. I’d taken antibiotics while pumping and I’d also lived in Europe (Turkey) for more than the ‘allowed’ time (a couple of months, I think).

Well, Esref came up with the pefectly logical solution: give it to Annika. I don’t know why that wasn’t obvious to me. So every evening, Annika started getting my milk mixed with a little cow’s milk. She never made a peep if she even noticed. I used the last of it last night. It’s all gone. My freezer is full of frozen veggies and batteries again.

I don’t know why I felt like I wanted to write about this. It feels momentous though, and I wanted to mark it, somehow. I guess making milk was one of the few ways I could really be Cole and Lina’s mommy. Doing a mommy thing. I miss it.


6 Responses to “The dairy is closed”

  1. 1 Diana March 9, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    The finality you communicate in this post leaves me breathless. I can never understand what you’re going through — what you’ve been through — but reading your words, hearing your thoughts in my head help me to get it a little better. I’m so sorry, Patrice.

    I imagine it must feel terribly sad to put a close one of the final physical connections you have to your twins. You lactated, your body made milk, and it was to nourish these beautiful little bodies you grew. Here was proof in the present time.

    I’m glad that you used your body’s offering to feed your amazing daughter. There’s a metaphor in there.

    I am squeezing in just a tiny moment from a crazy schedule to send you my love. I will carve out another moment to send you my gratitude through email. Have not had solid internet connection for a little while, but I’m always thinking of you.

    Love, Diana

  2. 2 twingles March 9, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    As usual Diana said it best. I remember you posting about this before, maybe here or on the boards. I’m glad you came up with a solution so it didn’t seem like a “waste”.

    Always thinking of you.

  3. 3 Karen March 9, 2008 at 6:26 pm


    Your post leaves me speechless with it’s tenderness and yearning. I think of you often, and am always keeping you and your babies in my heart.


  4. 4 mkate March 9, 2008 at 10:08 pm


    I have rewritten my response a few times and can not find adequate words to express my feelings. I can not begin to understand all that you have been through. However, I have personally struggled with the pump and have felt the anxiety of ‘not having enough’. I can not imagine going through all of that and not getting to give it to my babies. Breast milk is gold and I am glad that you found a use for it.

    I wonder if Annika will miss her dash of breast milk.

  5. 5 Mona (Babysteps) March 9, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    I am so glad you were able to use your precious milk. I too remember when you posted about the freezer full. WTG Esref for thinking of Annika! You are in my thoughts.

  6. 6 Rachel March 12, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Oh….I so can relate to your feelings. Courtney and Colin never fed before passing away. Jaxon only got up to I think 1cc a couple of times, but was mainly on TPN the whole time. The NICU had soooo much of my frozen milk and I had a freezer full too. I remember being so pissed off a week or so after Jaxon died and I just threw that frozen milk so hard in the trash. It is just so hard. I had had several blood transfusions before and after their birth so I couldnt donate it. Just last week while in the shower I noticed a drop of milk come out almost a year later…what the heck is that…torture is what it is…

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About Me

I'm a grieving mom. I have one beautiful daughter, Annika, who's 3 years old now (born 12/28/04). I also had twins, Lina and Cole, on 10/04/07, born at just 26 weeks. We lost Cole after just 23 days due to complications related to his prematurity. Fiesty little Lina overcame so much and just when she was getting ready to come home with us, suddenly had a complication unrelated to her prematurity and passed away on January 11, 2008. This blog is about getting through it. More...

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