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The Compassionate Gift of Surrogate Motherhood: Stacey's Journey Towards Milk Donation

NorthernStar milk donor Stacey shared her story of loss, grief, and the generous spirit of giving that led her to donate her precious milk to other babies who are in need:

"My name is Stacey Tweedle and I am a mother of two, birth and postpartum Doula, and a surrogate mother.

"I love babies and helping people is in my nature. With my biological children we got pregnant really easy and had great births as well. Because my pregnancies and deliveries were easy peasy I decided to become a surrogate. With no shock, the first transfer took right away and I was confirmed pregnant with my IP's (Intended Parents') baby in February.

"In June we found out that we would be losing the baby and on June 20th, 2021 I delivered sweet surrobabe at 21 weeks gestation. With the help of my midwife, husband, doula and an amazing friend who was my prayer warrior, I delivered her into this world.

"Being in my line of work I have always known of NorthernStar Milk Bank but thought it may bring up too many feelings after going through something so traumatic. I kept humming and hawing over it and wanted something amazing to come from our tragedy. After the delivery I was able to visit and have a tour of NorthernStar Milk Bank. It was there that I knew I HAD to donate any and all milk I could produce.

"The donation amount for a non-bereaved milk donor is 4 liters, and for bereaved mothers it is whatever they can give. For me, I really wanted to hit that 4 liter mark. I was told that one 120mL bottle can feed up to eight babies in the NICU. When I heard this it helped me persevere. I pumped every day, 6-7 times for 20 minutes on each side. I cried often while I was pumping because the milk was supposed to go to surrobabe, but I just kept thinking of all those babies I would be able to help.

"I am happy to say that after three weeks I hit the four liter mark and was able to wean off pumping. This was a huge accomplishment for me. With my donation alone I was able to help roughly 266 babies. To help me move through the grief, this was a game changer for me. When we dropped my milk off I brought my husband and my kids so they could see where my milk was going and hear how many babies I would be helping. That was huge for us and I am so glad we were able to do this. It was a huge achievement for me and has helped me move through my grief and do something great with this terrible situation that none of us wanted to ever be in.

"Grief isn't linear; it comes in waves, and is kind of like a ball bouncing in a square. In that square there is a button and when the ball hits the button your grief comes and slaps you in the face. Whenever this happens I am reminded of all the babies I will get to help with just my milk donation alone, and it helps comfort and soothe the pain just a little bit. If I’ve learned anything, it's: don’t shy away, live in it as much as it hurts. It will come out at some point. Is my grief gone? Hard no, but donating the milk has helped more than anyone could imagine.

"If you have ever thought about being a milk donor and are on the fence, I highly encourage you to inquire. I am happy to talk to anyone about it and my journey of healing. You can find me over on Instagram at @staceytweedledoulacare and I would be over the moon to talk to you about finding your healing and milk donation.

"Thank you so much for reading my story. I am a milk donor and am helping 266 babies.”

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