After losing his partner in a car accident just three months after welcoming their first child, Alex Green has received an outpouring of support in the most unexpected way.
As Green, an artisanal soap maker in Bend, OR, prepared to adjust to his new life as a single dad, he knew there was one thing he couldn’t do for his young son. Green’s partner Catherine Twete, 20, had wanted to breastfeed their son Brody until he was a year old — before a car accident tragically took her life eight months shy of this mark. Twete died on June 27 as a passenger in a rollover accident when the driver of the vehicle lost control. Green said he was willing to do “whatever it takes” to fulfill Twete’s wish and honor her memory, inspiring him to turn to a closed Facebook group to ask for help.
When Green first posted his plea to the 11,000-member Facebook group Portland Mamas, he was not at all prepared for the response he would receive:
“Hello everyone my sister just invited me to this page. I am a new single father to Brody, my 8-month-old son. His mother died in a car crash four months ago. His mother wanted to breast feed him until he was a year old. So for the past 4 months i have continuously been seeking our breast milk donations. And that is what I am doing now. If anyone on this page has any milk or knows where i can get some either donated or moderately priced that would be amazing. Brody and I live in Bend but I am not having any luck finding milk here. Thank you anyone and everyone for the support and information.”
Breast milk donations began pouring in to provide Brody with more than enough milk to reach his first birthday. Green took this opportunity to create a separate Facebook community to organize Brody’s donations — the closed Facebook group, Breast Milk for Brody, run by Brody’s grandmother, Robin Twete, has 58 members and counting.
Thanks to the connectivity of social media, and especially the popularity of Facebook parenting groups, we’re seeing more and more heartwarming stories of parents supporting each other during some of their darkest moments. Add to that the fact that the need for breast milk donations is growing, primarily to help premature babies who need the concentrated nutrition and infection-fighting properties found in donor milk, and it’s easy to see why Green’s request elicited such a response.
Hundreds of closed Facebook groups exist for this very reason — to gather breast milk donations within a trusted community of local parents. These days, it’s even possible to find breast milk for sale online on sites like Craigslist, though most doctors recommend using a milk bank so breast milk can be properly screened.
While milk banks are still in desperate need of donations to help premature and sick infants, trending news coverage is helping donor milk to gain some traction. One mother recently used lactation as a way to grieve and honor her stillborn son by donating 92 gallons of breast milk to local milk banks. Another mom found similar comfort by continuing to pump and donate milk after losing her 7-week-old baby in neonatal ICU. And for many women with an oversupply of milk, the act of donating is a gift in and of itself — one mother of four set the Guinness World Record for breast milk donation last year by donating 127 gallons, or 16,321 ounces, within five years.
For any lactating moms who are looking to give a little more, there are plenty of ways you can help. You can join Brody’s group to donate breast milk or send your milk to a milk bank for other babies in need. And if your breastfeeding days are behind you, you can still support the cause by donating to baby Brody’s GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his ongoing expenses. Every little bit, and every little drop, counts.More On