A new gay dad wants to provide the best milk, breast milk, to his kid, but lacks the biological plumbing to do so. Here is the story of his quest.
During our pregnancy with Big E, I researched breast milk sources. Doctor friends told us it would be the greatest gift we could give our newborn.
We were lucky that a friend had twenty pounds of frozen milk in Denver just after Big E was born in Colorado Springs. We packed it on dry ice and overnighted it to New York for $100.
There had to be another way.
I’d already learned that milk banks weren’t the way.
For starters, I figured there was a milk bank in every major city in the country. There are fifteen. For us, a place in Massachusetts would have shipped 4 oz of milk at $7/ounce plus shipping. Worse, milk banks pasteurize. They kill all bacteria (which is good for the baby’s immune system). Plus, they refuse donations from moms with colds or any benign sickness. But sick mom milk is the best kind for growing babies — full of antibodies.
There had to be another way.
Another Google search led me to “Human Milk for Human Bodies” (HM4HB), a global Facebook network of women with full freezers who don’t want to dump their milk. Posting locally in New York City, I quickly found generous women willing to give me their frozen supply.
When meeting them, I awkwardly asked, “Um, I don’t mean to offend, but I’d be remiss in not asking if you’re a meth addict or HIV positive or if you flavor your milk with Nestle Quik?”
In each case, the women laughed and said, “No. But you’re smart to ask.”
I trusted them. Who would go to the trouble of pumping, let alone the rigamarole of posting of Facebook, if they were Hep-B positive meth addicts?
One woman, a yoga teacher, had a completely full freezer. I stuffed two Trader Joe’s bags and my backpack with frozen milk. Big E hung on my chest in the Bjorn. I swear the milk doubled my own weight. After walking innumerable blocks and taking a subway, I questioned whether my shoulder pain was worthwhile. But Big E drank breast milk for two weeks. Because this donor was a yoga teacher, we called hers “soy milk.”
Another time, I carried Big E into outer Brooklyn for a pick-up. As I stepped onto the outdoor subway platform, I called the donor, as planned.
“Hi! I see you!” she answered.
I looked around and, twenty feet away, saw an Asian woman waving to me.
When I reached her I asked, “How did you know it was me?”
She laughed. “Because you’re the only white guy, here.”
I looked at the people around me. True.
“It’s cool. I’m Chinese and married to an African American guy. You should call this your ‘rice milk’.”
HM4HB fed both our children with a great variety of milks (and a great variety of nicknames).
HM4HB is built on generosity and nutritional need. Use them. Help us all flourish.
Photo: Flickr/Jay Quinn