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Air Express Milk

By Connie Cochran Toole
Chicago IL USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 4, July-August 2000, pp. 124-125

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

My son Tucker Christopher Toole was born July 15, 1998, at a healthy 8 pounds, 4 ounces. I had decided to breastfeed based on all of the information I read and the fact that my milk was the best I could offer my newborn child. I must admit that I was excited about nursing. Giving my child nourishment from my body seemed like the best thing in the world. However, it was quite difficult in the beginning. I don't know if it was the frustration of trying to get Tucker to latch on properly, or if it was because I was still recovering from the delivery, or both. I became a little discouraged because I thought maybe I wouldn't be able to nurse after all. I received a lot of support from mothers who had breastfed. In the first days after birth, I didn't know if I was coming or going. However on the tenth day everything changed. I suddenly felt no pain and Tucker was latching on perfectly. I thought, "This is terrific!"

The next breastfeeding hurdle we faced was when I had to return to work. After much discussion with my husband, we both reluctantly agreed that I would return to work after eight weeks. I really wasn't ready at that point and I missed my baby a lot. However, I developed a great nursing and pumping schedule at work. I was able to nurse my son during my lunch hour because his caregiver lived only a few blocks away from my job. My milk supply was great because I made sure I ate properly and Tucker nursed frequently during the evenings. Everything was going smoothly until, after only two weeks back, I was told I would have to travel for work to attend a conference in Arlington, Virginia. I wondered if I was ready for this challenge. My son would only be ten weeks old. I wanted to continue nursing but wondered how we both would manage it. The first thing I did was call an LLL Leader. She was friendly and nice and gave me information to help me maintain breastfeeding while I was away for business. I felt somewhat relieved.

I was not prepared emotionally to leave my baby for the first time. I cried the entire ride to the airport with co-workers looking on with sympathy. There was nothing anyone could say to comfort me. I had pumped enough milk to last for the first day or so, and then my husband was going to have to give Tucker formula. I wanted to avoid formula, so when I checked in to the hotel, I requested a refrigerator. The hotel clerk asked if it was for medical purposes. I explained I needed it to store milk for my baby and the hotel didn't charge for the use of the refrigerator. I worked hard to make time to pump while attending the conference. I used a Medela Pump-in-Style pump and it worked very well. After two days of pumping, I had 56 ounces of milk stored in the refrigerator. When I spoke with my husband on the phone, he said he was running out of milk quickly. I began calling airlines to see if I could find a flight that was leaving the next morning so I could ship my milk home and my husband could pick it up. I found a flight leaving early the next morning and arranged to take the hotel shuttle to the airport. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time for them to check my precious package. I thought to myself, "When this guy checks my box and sees the contents he's going to wonder why in the heck am I sending milk." He didn't ask a thing. I had stored my milk in two 32-ounce plastic containers and put them in a thermal bag with ice packs. It worked great. My husband picked the package up from the airport two hours later and our baby had the milk an hour after that. I was relieved that Tucker was able to continue receiving my milk, since I wasn't there to be with him. I continued to pump and was able to bring home another 56 ounces of milk. I missed my little one tremendously, (and my husband too) but with the help of an LLL Leader, I was able to plan effectively and continue breastfeeding my little one.

For working mothers, don't give up hope. Just remember if there's a will, there's a way! If anyone had told me a year ago that I would be putting breast milk on a plane to send to my husband to feed our baby while I was out of town, I would not have believed them. You find as a parent there isn't anything you wouldn't do for your child.

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