Yesterday I woke to find out that my Grandma Rae, one of my favorite people in the world, had passed away at 3:19 a.m.
She was 87.
It wasn't old enough.
I knew when I said goodbye on our last visit a year and a half ago, and again on our last phone call on her birthday months ago, that it might be our last goodbye. And yet, as with all things, I really thought there would be more time.
More time to call, when the kids weren't running around screaming in the background. More time to visit, when money to fly wasn't so tight.
But now time has run out, and she is gone...
|Talking to my Grandma Rae the last time I saw her, |
pregnant with Bellybean and talking about her births
Just over a week ago I embarrassed the crap out of myself crying out of the blue in front of a very sweet woman I don't know very well. I felt so stupid. I was dropping off a donation of breastmilk to Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin, and when I was thanked for donating, I made the mistake of saying, "I just wish it had been more." And with that came the waterworks.
|Dropping off my 100 ounces|
In January I'd been to a Milk and Cookies Tour of the milk bank, and afterward, I'd signed up to be a donor. I got my blood test within days, which costs the milk bank money, but I didn't start pumping right away. I wanted larger flanges, but put off driving up to Special Addition to get them. The kitchen was a mess and I didn't want to go in there to wash - and boil - extra dishes until it was spic and span (which never happened). The situation at AISD was neverending, we got a virus, I worked long and hard on the school's silent auction, I got sucked into legislative work that ruled. my. life. But it was going to be okay. I had time. I had until Bellybean turned a year old. That was so much time.
|Bellybean's chocolate birthday cake|
And then it wasn't, and we were singing "Happy Birthday" over a chocolate cake at Kerbey Lane after a day at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.
With my oldest, Magoo, I only donated about 100 ounces. I had oversupply until he was six months old - I was soaking through sheets every night, needing an extra shirt or two in the diaper bag in case I blew through all of the breast pads I had in there and then leaked all down the front of whatever I was wearing. But I didn't get around to pumping until my supply leveled out, and I didn't know about The Milk-Saver until well after Bellybean was born. So I was really disappointed not to donate more. I planned to make up for it with Sweet Pea. Then adjusting to life with two kids got in the way. When I committed to donating some of Bellybean's milk, I was shooting for a minimum of 500 ounces in my head. Never mind that as a stay-at-home mom I've never much pumped just for my own kids or even gotten them to take a bottle. Never mind that my oversupply had resolved months before by following my midwife's advice to block nurse. I thought I would pump the initial donation of 100 ounces, then keep pumping for two months as requested, and then keep on going. But all I managed, again, was 100 ounces. And then there was no time left.
I'm sure there was an element of knowing that Bellybean is growing so fast and that he's our last baby that contributed to the tears that just kept coming. Even with my kids in the backseat when I got back in my car, even needing to go into Jason's Deli for a late lunch, the stupid tears just kept coming.
But it wasn't just about time passing. It was that my time was up.
I value integrity very highly, just under honesty, which probably tops my list of necessary traits in people I want to be friends with. Nonetheless, often, I lack integrity. I forgive myself, though, because there's still time to schedule that playdate I promised. There's still time to do better about signing the homework log next week. I can start the Orange Rhino Challenge again tomorrow, get the house clean next weekend, start that diet next month. I'll play with the kids once the laundry is done.
But to donate breastmilk that can literally save the lives of the most medically fragile babies, there is just one year, because our milk changes to meet the needs of our own babies as they become toddlers. And I ran out of time.
No more telling myself tomorrow, next week, next month, next baby.
I can donate money, fundraise, raise awareness - but I can no longer donate the most important thing the milk bank never has enough of - breastmilk.
If you're reading this as a lactating mom of a baby under one, please consider donating your milk to babies in need.
There are drop off points all over the place if you're not close to a milk bank, or you can ship your milk. Insurance is supposed to cover a pump. And though I for one hated pumping a few months ago, I came to love it just because I associated the honor of donating my milk (and maybe some oxytocin helped, too!) with the tedium of washing pump parts, boiling them, washing my breasts, having the baby wake up mid-session and needing to wash my boob again after nursing him back to sleep... - all of the annoying stuff became this warm, fuzzy, I-get-to-watch-TV-while-I-pump-now feeling.
So donate now, before time runs out.
And call your grandma.
|After my high school graduation in 1994 with my |
Grandma Hannan, Aunt Anne, & Grandma Rae.