Being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 whilst pregnant with our second child and waiting for our baby to arrive, has been the biggest challenge we’ve ever had to deal with. Nothing could have prepared us for the emotional journey that lay ahead. Keeping it all together and getting on with life whilst putting on a brave face to everyone around us has taken every ounce of strength. I was induced at 35 weeks of pregnancy and we welcomed our daughter, Clara, into the world in May 2018. Much to our dismay, Clara didn’t take to formula as her premature digestive system wasn’t able to digest the milk easily.
I decided to text the out of hours Hearts Milk Bank phone number asking for a call back. We were reassured that the donor milk provided is safe, screened, pasteurised, contains antibodies that are not found in formula and adhere to NHS NICE guidelines. Amazingly, they arranged for us to receive 7 litres of donor milk that very evening! She even personally drove the 3 hour round trip to deliver it to us. This was a huge boost and relief to us as we were able to defrost a bottle immediately. A second batch of donor milk was delivered a fortnight later by Bruce, a volunteer SERV motorcyclist. He told me that he couriers milk around the country because he enjoys riding his bike and “If it helps people, then it’s worth it”.
Although for me, nothing could have replaced the joy of breastfeeding my baby; The Hearts Milk Bank enabled us to do the next best thing – to feed precious donor breast milk to our daughter. The difference the donor milk has made to Clara is nothing short of miraculous. She is able to easily digest the milk without the constant struggle we saw her have when feeding her formula milk. As I wait to have mastectomy surgery, the pleasure of being able to feed Clara donor milk and seeing her put on weight has been so positive. It has also helped me overcome the difficult emotions of being unable to breastfeed Clara myself.