I’m an Upper-Middle Class White Lady and an Aspiring Wet Nurse
Breast milk is the perfect food for babies, and I have it...in abundance. Our little boy is a milk monster and I still must pump every couple of hours! I know how lucky I am, and I also want to share it with babies who need it. Oh, I want to get paid for it, too, as my partially paid educator salary maternity leave expires in about five weeks.
Having given birth to a healthy full-term infant on August 5th, 2019 at UC San Diego Medical Center - Hillcrest, I breathed a sigh of relief. My own mother delivered a premature baby (my older brother, David) who passed away a month after birth. Would the same thing happen to me? I was wracked with fear my first trimester.
Luckily, we were blessed with an adorable little bundle who only came two days before his anticipated due date (he likes meeting deadlines like his mama!). My husband and I stayed at the hospital for four days post-delivery for help with breastfeeding. At one point a nurse came in and advised that we might consider supplementing my low milk supply with donor milk when we go home. Awesome! Only problem? At $4.65/once it wasn’t practical for our educator and government salaries. In fact, a pediatrician came in and advised that donor milk is pasteurized and many of the benefits that come from breastfeeding are lost in the pasteurization process. He advised that infant formula was just fine as a supplement to breastfeeding.
On Thursday, August 8th, we leave the hospital and return home to Mission Hills, San Diego. The joy I feel looking at our precious little, mixed race White/Filipino bundle is overwhelming. I turn on Netflix and realize that a new season of Workin’ Moms is out. I love the show, but it constantly reminds me that in Canada the moms have one full year of paid maternity leave and it completely infuriates me. Did you know that the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without the guarantee of paid maternity leave?
In fact, in February, my conservative father sent me an article that said, “Your maternity leave benefits look quite good” and a link to this article. I got super excited. Had he heard something that I hadn’t? I responded, “I haven’t seen that great news, but if you have a source, I would enjoy reading it. CA has some of the better benefits of all the states, but still much worse than most other industrialized countries to which he responded, “Oops! This is India - thought it was the US ;).”
Anyways, that’s a bit of a tangent! My 60% supplemental disability salary of <$3,000/month is running up fast and I am still wearing Depends and bleeding and peeing through them! I’ve been thinking about a side hustle for a while but cannot bear the thought of selling yoga pants with weird, unflattering patterns to women I know. Wait a minute...LIGHTBULB MOMENT.
Concerned about finances, I do the math and realize that maybe there are some local parents in the Mission Hills area who would be interested in paying me for my extra supply? Since donor milk is $4.65/once at whatever place they told us about in the hospital, let’s say I charge $4/once for my unpasteurized milk? If UC San Diego Health wants to screen me as a donor I’m totally down.
I eat a healthy and sometimes Organic diet, started out at a normal BMI, and only gained less than a pound over the recommended 35-pound weight gain recommendation during pregnancy. I prioritize infants who are less than 35 weeks gestation or ill, but would consider donating my milk to gay, male couples who are unable to lactate, single dads, working moms who do not have the ability to pump during the workday, and actually, pretty much anybody who doesn’t like or feel like breastfeeding.
My modest proposal? Currently the Family and Medical Leave Act in the United States covers certain employees for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. The United States is as amazing country and I believe amazing countries support the health and well-being of their citizens (little ones who require optimum nutrition and working mothers who want to procreate, take time off to recover from the violent post-labor bowel movement that is nearly as painful as labor itself), and nurture their offspring. We can do better! I know we can! Let’s make the 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for maternity leave, 12 weeks of PAID, job-protected leave.
President Donald J. Trump -- How would you feel about Ivanka selling her breast milk, so that she can provide for her family? Someone told me I looked like her once. I was very flattered. She’s SO pretty and had a great brand that I used to buy on sale at Macy’s. Mr. Trump -- Do you think we look kind of alike? Would you be OK with her selling her breast milk? Tweet it out!
Until I receive fully paid maternity leave, I’m selling my breast milk for $4/once and hoping (primarily) that there are families who have ill or premature babies who can benefit from my ample supply.