Meet Tyler. I've always said that all of the babies I've given birth to are the most beautiful babies ever. Now, I have to amend that to, all the babies I've ever fed with my breast milk, are the most beautiful babies ever!
Tyler was not one of my surrogate babies. I met his mother online when I was on a surrogate website moaning about not wanting to stop pumping my breast milk. I had been pumping for about four months for my most recent surro-twins and was slightly hysterical at the thought of stopping. I didn't want to stop. Yes, it took a lot of time, I couldn't eat a lot of things, I couldn't have a drink, and I couldn't do a lot of things, because I always had to think about being able to pump every few hours. But, man, did I love it. I loved watching the milk start pouring out and into the bottles. I loved seeing all the milk piled up in the freezer. But, mostly, I loved getting pictures of fat, healthy and happy babies. I just wasn't ready to let that go.
Enter Jamie. :)
As I was online looking for support, she comes on and mentions that if anyone doesn't want to stop pumping, she has a very hungry preemie. We started emailing and a beautiful friendship was formed. I loved that she immediately sent me pictures of Tyler. I loved that he was smiling in all of them. I loved that when I went back and looked at her old posts, that she was a kind and caring IM (intended mother). Since I knew I could never do another surrogacy (RH's idea, not mine), I was not ready to give up this last thing that I could give. And this was someone who would not just benefit from my milk, but who really needed it.
You see, Tyler was born at 25 weeks and 6 days. He was 2 lbs and 7 oz and 15 inches long. He lost weight after he was born and went under 2 pounds! When I first started sending milk, he was 11 pounds at 5 months old. That was almost one year ago. At 16 months, he got to 25 pounds and is pulling himself up! He is even starting to try and stand on his own a bit! He is also very healthy and, I believe, has made it through the season this far without getting sick.
You know, I had to deal with a lot of crap from people who couldn't understand why I would do this. In case you are wondering (because IRL, a LOT of people were), no, I did not get any monetary compensation for doing this (Jamie, however, made sure I never had to pay for any of the supplies or shipping). But, I did get something from it. I got satisfaction from knowing I was helping a baby grow up into a healthy toddler. I got satisfaction from Jamie's updates, letting me know how the doctor was so pleased with how he was doing. I would get pictures, showing me his beautiful smile (hence my nickname for him "Smiley Tyley") and those gorgeous chubby cheeks. I got to know that I made a difference. And I also made a friend in the process. I consider myself one of the luckiest people I know. I am grateful everyday that Jamie saw my post and chose to respond.
In all, I got to pump for 8 months for Tyler. I cherished every minute and I must admit, there are times that I miss it. I do like my freedom, but I did have to exchange the beauty I had in order to get it. And if that beauty is in question for anyone else, look at the pictures at the start of this entry. Because most people don't get to have beauty like that in their entire lifetime.
(Note: for anyone wondering, yes, I got Jamie's permission to post this.)