Curtis has weaned.
After a storm of criticism last week, the California father who decided to work his way through a freezer full of breast milk ended his stunt and, along with his wife, took down their blog “Don’t Have a Cow, Man.” Instead of seeing how long the 6’4″ and 185-pound “Curtis” could survive on the excess breast milk, he and his wife, who went by the pseudonym “Katie,” found a different way to use up the stuff.
This is where an Irvine, California, mother of quadruplets comes in, and also a mom from Canada.
According to the Toronto Star, Curtis gave up the boob juice just four days into the experiment. But it wasn’t gnawing hunger pains or even thirst for a tall glass of water that shut it all down, it was international criticism and a lot of angry comments that pushed the couple to stop.
Mainly, his critics were outraged that a grown man would be consuming the expressed milk and not the many babies whose parents would like to feed them donated breast milk but can’t find it or afford it. In their blog, the couple explained that they had tried to donate all the extra but weren’t able to (for unclear reasons … but it happens). Over the years, Katie had already donated more than 10,000 ounces — she was hardly hoarding the stuff.
Among the tons of calls to donate they got was this link to an online milk sharing network, run by Emma Kwasnica, a mother in Montreal. As the California couple called it quits, they also contacted Kwasnica, who, two weeks before, had heard from a desperate mother of quadruplets in Irvine, Calif. This mother, who, for privacy reasons, wanted to use her middle name, Fiona, couldn’t produce enough milk on her own to keep up with her four growing babies. One of her babies had been born with digestive problems and couldn’t consume formula.
Kwasnica put the two in touch and the milk will be picked up this week. A happy ending, but also kind of unsatisfying, big picture-wise.
First, the happiness: Fiona is determined that all for of her babies will consume only breast milk, and Curtis and Katie will help her make that possible. She told the Star:
“I’m so relieved and so grateful,” Fiona, the mother of the quadruplets, told the Star from her home in Irvine, Calif. She agreed only to be identified by her middle name to ensure her family’s privacy.
The supply means she is no longer under constant pressure to search for donors. “It will allow me to put all my energy into caring for my babies.”
Fiona said she can’t produce enough of her own milk to feed two baby boys and two baby girls, and needs another 60 ounces a day — or 420 ounces a week.
Now, for the dissatisfaction:
This is a really nice outcome, and I know one that many readers will be satisfied with judging from some of the harsh comments left on the first post I wrote about their plan. I definitely had fun writing about Curtis and his stunt — it wasn’t clear why he did it … nor did it have to be — but I don’t think anything that the couple did was wrong, ethically or otherwise.
What’s surprising to me is how so many people felt someone else had more of a right to decide the fate of Katie’s expressed breast milk than she did. Yes, it’s nice that these babies will get the milk. And having been on the business end of a Medela Pump In Style, I know the temptation to look at those blueish white bags in that freezer as liquid gold. But the vitriolic reaction and public shaming for not immediately donating the leftovers strikes me as another way in which our society tends to treat pregnant/post-partum/nursing women as somehow a part of the public domain.
Curtis and Katie’s experiment was short and possibly one that they regret — they’ve pulled the blog. Still, the results are in: when it comes to mothers and the fruits of their bodies, society knows best … and don’t you forget it.