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For the years spent going through infertility, I withdrew into myself. I constantly felt spent, an empty shell that had nothing to give as all of my energy was sapped trying to hold myself together. Then came pregnancy which was also tiring, physically and emotionally so again my focus was turned inward, to myself and my baby. Once she arrived life was a bit of a haze for the first few months.
Now I’m starting to get myself back, a different version of me, but the pieces are coming out of the shadows and allowing my gaze to turn outward again. I spent so much time buried under infertility, unable to be there for others, that now I want to be able to give back. It’s a bit of a vague feeling because I wasn’t sure in what way, but the first form of giving came to me via Facebook.
A friend of mine posted that she had become an ambassador for a local breast milk bank. Truth be told I didn’t even realise it was an option in my locale (and it’s actually not, my city has satellite locations for them). I messaged her for info, and am in the process of becoming a donor. They ask for a minimum commitment of 150oz and that is a pretty big ask for me as my pump output isn’t huge. But I have until baby girl’s first birthday to do it (they only accept donations until your child is one). Despite my initial difficulties with breastfeeding, it’s now second nature and I’m pleased I’ve been able to keep it up*. The milk I donate is given, by prescription, to babies who really need it, sick and/or premature. It costs me nothing but time, and can be a huge benefit to someone else. I want to do that.
I’ve also never been able to give blood, be it due to tattoos, piercings, travel or weight requirements (I’m a petite person and never met the minimum weight). Thanks to pregnancy I’ve gained the few extra pounds I needed to be eligible. I am also now 6 months postpartum and am finally an eligible blood donor. So I’m off to the blood bank next week! Again, only costs me my time (ok and blood). I’m fine with needles (good thing or IVF would have been much more difficult) but I don’t like having blood drawn, or at least seeing it leave my body. So it could be interesting, but I’m just going to try not to watch it flow out, into the bag. I’m not a fainter, it just makes me a bit squeamish, so it should be fine.
So I’m starting relatively small, and with anonymous type things, as opposed to giving or helping a specific person/people. I’m glad to be able to put some positivity out into the world, now that I am not living in the vacuum of my own life. Helping is healing.
*I am for all forms of feeding your baby, whatever is for you. Breastfeeding is for me, and the health benefits for sick and preemie babies are there so I’m all for sharing my milk with those who need it.