I spent the week this week in a training course.  5 days, 8-10 hours a day.  It ended with a test to determine if I was qualified to be a Certified Lactation Counselor.  The test results will be available in 6-8 weeks.  I’m brain-dead from this week….but so glad to be home.  We looked at lots of research studies on lots of different subjects regarding breastfeeding.  One study had to do with peer pressure, and the power of persuasion.  An exercise was repeated over and over and the test subjects all posted a predictable answers over and over and over.  There was actually only one test subject and the others were paid actors.  The gist of the study was that the woman being “tested” started off answering the way she felt was right, then evolved into answering like the others in the test, even though the answer was obviously wrong.  She believed that there must be something wrong with her answer that she didn’t know about, and so she went with the majority opinion. 

Then, a new person joined the study and took the first chair around the table.  When the exercise resumed the latest person answered the “correct” way, not the way of the majority…..and the test subject person agreed with the person in the first chair.  She knew the correct response all along but couldn’t answer that way until someone in the first chair stood against popular opinion.  The study went on to say that if that new person had sat anywhere else, which they tested, the results would have been different and the test subject would have answered the way everyone else did, whether right or wrong.  This test was done after the Holocoust, by someone who wanted to try to understand why people would do something they knew was wrong…..and it came down to the power of the first chair. 

Later in the day, we studied milk banks, and the business of Human Milk Banking.  In Iowa, there are several sights that are drop-off points for expressed human milk that someone wants to donate.  There are special freezers that are monitored, and a system in place where a representative comes to the sites to pick up the milk and bring it to the state university where it is tested, processed and then brought around to people who need it for babies who cannot be breastfed.  I’ve known they existed, but never knew where or how it worked.  I also believed it was very expensive to obtain this milk and not very realistic to expect to use it.  According to my class instructors, information, human milk from the milk bank should not be withheld based on ability to pay….and a doctor’s order and/or insurance should cover the cost. 

My heart began to bleed more and more as we learned about the human milk banks.  I desperately wanted our adopted baby to have human milk, but was unable to produce it myself.  Others offered to give me their extra milk, but that is just plain not safe.  Ever.  So we did formula.  She rejected it time and time again and was often if not always ill….and we later found out she was allergic to both cow milk and soy…..and i was just so sad that I hadn’t accessed a human milk bank to feed my baby.  I was thinking like a mom, not a public health nurse.  I didn’t know who to ask or how to go about it….and I was so overwhelmed and just focused on surviving….and I’d never done bottles before!  I had no idea what I was doing!  Why didn’t my doctor suggest a human milk bank?  Why didn’t the peds GI specialist when we were desperate for a formula that would satisfy her and keep her well?  Out of nowhere….I was grieving.  And angry.  I passively just did what everyone else did with their adopted infants….no matter what it felt like or whether it made sense. 

I’ve had a change of heart.  I want to take the first chair on this.  It won’t help my little one anymore, because she is 3 and beyond formula/human milk issues.  I want to take the first chair for other adopted babies coming to our area.  It won’t happen overnight.  It will involve first setting up a sight to receive donated milk, which amounts to someone willing to keep a deep freeze in their garage or basement….and regulate temperatures….and then arrange for the regular pick-up from a rep of the company who tests and processes it.  My homework involves figuring out how to ACCESS the human milk bank for babies who need it and families who choose human milk instead of formula.  I’ll get to work on that Monday.  I’m willing to take the first chair here, on behalf of my girl who suffered because she didn’t get the benefit of human milk her first year of life.  My grief will heal, and maybe subside quicker when I get to see other babies fed human milk, even if it is banked milk.  Contact me if you are interested in helping or think you might need it.  Thanks.  Oh, and one more thing…..

There is a place for each of us to “take the first chair”….