Get out your tissues, y’all. Tay’s story is a roller coaster of heart ache and healing. We are so grateful that she has opened up with us here today. Check out her interview below!
Please note, this post has a *trigger warning* for still birth.
What has your breastfeeding journey been like?
7 years ago next month on September 21st I was 21 years old giving birth to my first baby. My daughter, Ileana Victoria. At this point in my life almost everything had gone wrong, but when she was born I promised her I’d do everything for her. She latched on right away after birth and changed my life. I grew through our breastfeeding journey together. My life now had a purpose; to give her the best life I could. She nursed and we bonded through liquid love for just over 2 years and then she had cups and bottles of breastmilk whenever she asked until she was 3.
Before she even forgot the taste of breastmilk I was pregnant with our 2nd baby girl, Esperanza Valencia. Ileana was 4 and so excited to have a baby sister but the cards weren’t dealt in our favor. During a routine ultrasound the doctors noticed she our sweet Espy was collecting fluid behind her neck. That’s a sign for many chromosomal disorders like Trisomy 13, Down syndrome and what our baby was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome. TS is a rare chromosomal disorder that happens randomly to 1 in 2500 baby girls. Sadly these beautiful babies only have a 2% chance of surviving birth and a 1% chance of surviving past a few short years after birth. On 4/8/15 God chose to bring her to heaven. I always tell myself she was too perfect for earth and that’s why she was stillborn. 3 days later my milk came in. I was grieving and depressed. On one hand having breasts full of milk with no baby was a cruel reminder of our loss, but on the other hand I knew I wanted to somehow give our little girls life a purpose.
As deep into the darkness of depression that I was I chose to pump and donate the liquid love our Espy left behind. Through Milky Mommas, Inc., this amazing group, I found mamas with special and amazing babies with unique stories of their own to donate my Espy’s gift to. On top of that, my oldest daughter Ileana was super excited to be able to have her milkies too! She was having cups full daily as well!! Being able to provide liquid life for a few sweet babies and bond with my now only living child through a new and unique breastfeeding journey was what brought me out of the darkness and helped me to find myself again after so much grief.
Soon after, we were pregnant again with our rainbow baby! My hands on boy Soren Ero. He is my blessing. My rainbow after such a devastating storm. He was born on 6/22/16 and self latched as soon as he was laid on my chest! It was such an amazing thing. His big sister, Ileana, was in the room and I could feel my sweet angel, Esperanza’s, presence as well. Our breastfeeding journey has been going strong ever since!! He is now a 14 months old and still breastfeeding on demand. We cosleep, cloth diaper, and enjoy every millisecond of our amazing bond through breastfeeding. My oldest, Ileana, is also in on the journey at almost 7 years old and still enjoying her cups of milk just like her baby brother. Breastfeeding is our sacred bond. It’s like our invisible umbilical cord;it keeps us connected! Our journey is life and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.
Did the women in your family breastfeed?
I am a biracial 1st generation American. My paternal family is from El Salvador so all of the women on my father’s side breastfed because that’s the norm in 3rd world countries. My maternal family is Black, White and Native. breastfeeding was common with the older women but not so much with the younger generations. My cousin and I are the only ones from our generation who breastfed and I’m the only one who advocates for extended breastfeeding
What made you want to breastfeed?
I wanted the best for my babies. I was young when I started having kids and hadn’t accomplished much in life. I’m still working on getting a college degree, I’ve had jobs in many fields in the meantime and I don’t have the best example of being a mother since mine wasn’t exactly around until I was in high school. I knew breastfeeding was the one thing I could do for my kids that would take hard work but was already perfect in every way. No degree or salary required. Just love and dedication to the most perfect things, my kids, my greatest accomplishments.
What is the biggest bf challenge you’ve overcome?
I would have to say pumping and providing breastmilk for babies after I lost my own child was the hardest challenge I personally have had to overcome. Aside from that, my battle with “nip-lash” daily from my active boy trying to nurse and check out the world at the same time is definitely in 2nd place! Lol
Who are your biggest supporters?
My biggest supporter is my husband. Intentionally because he wants the best for our son and he wants him to be a happy baby and unintentionally (and half lazy lol) because he will let me know any time day or night, awake or asleep, even if I’m busy doing HW or cooking that our baby boy is hungry and hand him over. He doesn’t care if we’re at home or in public our baby will have his milkies on demand and even faster if dada can help it!
Tell us your favorite story about an experience with breastfeeding.
When I was a baby and growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Abuela (my father’s mother) because my dad was a single dad and had to work. All my life she sang this song to me in Spanish when I was being fed, when I was sick and going to bed each night. The song has a few lines but the main one goes “Los pollitos dicen pio pio pio cuando tienen amber y cuando tienen frío….”
It means the baby chicks say peep peep peep when they’re hungry and when they’re cold. It’s just a cute little kids song. But it reminds me of her and the comfort I felt in her arms as a kid and even to this day. I have been singing that same song to my babies since they were growing in my belly. Well a few weeks ago I was nursing my boy and singing the song. I said “los pollitos dicen” and he unlatched and said “pio pio pio” right on cue! I almost cried. It was so cute and I was so amazed and in love because I felt like he feels that same love and comfort when he hears that song just like I did as a baby.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or encourage other moms?
My words of encouragement for other mamas are just to remember we are created for this! We are love in human form. Made to be the comfort and life source for a tiny helpless version of ourselves. Whether you’re nursing or receiving milk donations, no matter how long the journey is YOU DID IT!! You did the best you could for your small ones and that’s all that matters. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel any less or ashamed in any way for ANY aspect of your journey. Focus on the love because LOVE IS POWER!
Love. Is. Power. What an amazing statement. I love this momma’s resilient spirit. Rainbow mommas, donor mommas, you are incredible! Have you donated breastmilk, or received donor milk? Leave us a comment below, and be sure to check back for more interviews later!