This evening when I thawed some donor milk for Jacob, I noticed that written on that bag was not only the date and amount of milk pumped, but also, "Happy Birthday Auntie Sue *heart*!" This is not the first time I've seen notes written on milk bags. Donors frequently mark Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and other holidays on their liquid gold. There are no vacations from pumping.
Pumped breast milk marks the passage of time in many ways. The date is of course written on the bags, and in the case of one of our donors, this includes the time on the 24-hour clock. The little messages and congratulatory notes remind us of the big calendar days. The milk too changes with time. Milk pumped for a newborn is very yellow and rich and then gradually becomes more clear and pale as the baby gets older. People who nurse their babies directly don't get to see any of this and are often surprised to observe the sheer volume of milk that Jacob drinks.
Our main donor has been pumping for us for nearly an entire year now. Every week we have driven to her house to pick up fresh breast milk. Her production is finally slowing down, and she has happily given up her middle of the night pumping session. Last week, after suffering from the flu, her supply took a real hit and there was no fresh milk for our boy. This woman pumped not only for her own baby who never learned how to breastfeed, but also for ours, for almost twelve months straight, multiple times per day. To top it off, she seems terribly apologetic for no longer being able to give us milk for Jacob. My only question is, how can we possibly thank her appropriately for this astonishing gift?