Thursday, February 14, 2013

Breast Milk, part two

So you know my last post on breast feeding? Thought I was done? Well, guess what? There's more!

Now that I've explained the complexity of breast feeding as a diabetic and how the balancing act is more a matter of self-care than baby-care, it's about time that I move onto the real impetus for getting around to writing these posts: Downton Abbey.  For those of you who watch the show, I've tried to give you all a few weeks to catch up on the fourth episode so as to not inadvertently spoil the plot for you, but seeing as this topic has been eating me up inside I just cannot wait any longer to vent about it.  Several Sundays ago, Lady Sybil died from eclampsia after giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.  I wept my freaking eyes out.  I simply couldn't believe that Julian Fellowes (the writer) would do something so horrible to the most wonderful character on the show... I mean for God's sake man, kill Bates if you have to, but not Sybil!

Many of you might find this to be completely random and not at all relevant to a diabetes related post about breast milk, but bear with me -- you see, when Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore began talking about the baby's need for a wet nurse I got to thinking.  While breast feeding is an extremely personal choice for mother's now a days and there are definitely social stigmas that go along with not just nursing, but sharing breast milk, the reality still exists that there are babies out there that need to be fed by other means than their own mothers.  Clearly formula is the go-to option now a days for such situations, but I'd heard tell about the practice of breast milk donation and wanted to check it out.

So off to Mr. Google I go to look into what organizations are out there and what it takes to become a breast milk donor (face it, with the image of Sybil Branson's baby fresh in mind who wouldn't want to help out?).  The search engine pops up with several different groups that collect donations for families in need and I delve into the mission statements, success stories and finally into the requirements pages... logically, the organizations insist that a donor have her own baby's feeding covered before considering donating extra milk; they also mandate that a donor's freezer be capable of reaching - 4 degrees Fahrenheit; and, oh yeah, donors under no circumstances can be diabetic.

Putting diabetes under the same category of disqualifying diseases as HIV (SERIOUSLY?!), using artificial insulin on a regular basis classifies me an "unhealthy" mother...  ouch.  Now I am not so irrational as to deny these organizations consideration of liability reduction in making this decision, but likening my milk quality to that of a disease that is actually transmittable from person to person and actually communicable through breast milk is just insulting.   Women with HIV cannot safely breast feed without taking antiretroviral medication to prevent transference of the disease to their babies, but women with diabetes - as I said earlier - are not only capable of breast feeding safely, but they are encouraged to do it!

Having the past several weeks to stew on this topic, I'm not angry with these groups because I cannot donate something I willing would under different circumstances, but I am furious with diabetes that it has taken something important away from me.  It never crossed my mind to donate milk while breast feeding GW, but now that I'm actively feeding GV and am in a physical position to do so now, it really stings to know what opportunity I missed and what difference I'll never be allowed to make for another mother.  Don't get me wrong, I know mothers today who can't or don't breast feed have alternative options with formula, but it's the principle of the thing...

While I understand that I have a disease I work tirelessly to manage it and make it as irrelevant as possible.  But, being of spiteful character, diabetes seems to take pleasure in continuously adding insult to injury -- making me wear a battery operated computer 24/7 was just selfish; forcing me to cut out cream of wheat was just rude; making candy a thing of necessity rather than pleasure was sick and twisted; and, worst of all, having my milk practically labeled as carcinogenic is just unforgivable.

Screw you, diabetes. And the horse you rode in on.

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