Danielle Palmer, 31, firmly believes that the key to getting through hardships is living in the moment and lending a helping hand when you can. She would know, as she has dealt with her fair share of challenges.
Palmer and her husband Brett, 31, welcomed their third son Truett six months ago. Truett was born with a congenital heart defect and a genetic disorder that causes him to have difficulty eating. As a result, he received most of his nutrition from an IV instead of a bottle or breast at the beginning of his life. As Palmer learned to adjust to her son’s diagnosis, she also made the selfless decision to pump her breast milk for other babies in need.
And when Hurricane Harvey hit, she knew exactly where to send it.
The Missouri mom and registered nurse tells Babble that when she first starting pumping milk, she was able to produce between 16 and 20 ounces a day. Knowing that she had an oversupply, Palmer was able to partner with her son’s speech therapist and lactation consultant Nicole Edwin, who helped connect her with a local family in need of donor breast milk. And when Edwin heard of a few families in need of breast milk who had been hit by Hurricane Harvey, she asked Palmer if she would be willing to help them too.
Of course, Palmer jumped at the opportunity.
Edwin, who is eight months pregnant, collected other supplies like formula, bottled water, feminine products, wipes, and diapers to take to Texas and packed up Palmer’s frozen breast milk in a cooler. She brought along her midwife, both to help and also just in case she happened to go into early labor. The pair successfully hand-delivered the supplies to grateful Hurricane Harvey victims (and Edwin did not go into labor). Palmer says she feels “blessed” knowing that her efforts have helped alleviate some stress for parents in the wake of the natural disaster.
Because after all, Palmer is a parent who understands stress. To date, Truett has had eight surgeries in his young life. He was only two days old when he had his first surgery and 14 days old when he had open heart surgery. All in all, he spent the first 50 days of his life in the cardiac intensive unit at the hospital.
With that first trip, Palmer donated 1,040 ounces of breast milk. That, combined with donations from other women, added up to a total of 1,900 ounces. On a second trip to Texas, Edwin was able to donate an additional 800 ounces.
On Facebook, Edwin shared one of the stories of the families they were able to help in Texas, including one mom who evacuated with her three young children, only to return home and discover that all of her frozen breastmilk had been destroyed. After being denied FEMA and milk from a local milk bank, she was desperate to feed her babies. Thankfully, Palmer’s donation made all the difference. Another mother, who lost her home to Harvey, was even able to receive dairy-free breastmilk from Edwin, a speciality resource that greatly relieved her baby’s discomfort.
Since the success of their first donation, Edwin and her midwife have founded a non-profit organization called Nourish Notion: Moms in Motion, set up to help moms who go through natural disasters and other devastating events. Anyone wishing to donate to Nourish Notion can donate supplies such as bottled water, baby supplies, and even breast milk and it will be delivered directly to victims of natural disasters. Palmer notes that some moms from Montana are donating 5,400 ounces of breast milk to donate to families in both Texas and Florida.
Today, Palmer is supplying 100% of Truett’s diet with breast milk that he receives through a G-tube. She reports that he is as happy as ever and is thriving on her milk. “All those rolls came from breast milk,” she laughs.
As she is still producing more breast milk than her son needs, Palmer plans to continue feeding her son and donating anything he doesn’t need, with her eye on the victims of Hurricane Irma next. Although she admits that juggling three kids, pumping, and dealing with complex medical needs can be trying, Palmer says she chooses to focus on finding joy each and every day.
“I feel blessed,” says Palmer. “I don’t take [Truett’s] defect lightly, but I also understand that had he not gone through this, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to donate and alleviate some of the stress for these moms that are dealing with devastation as well.”