Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Nessie the Milk Cow

Photo by USDAgov/Flickr  available by CC-by-2.0

Photo Credit: Peggy Greb

So I was just musing for a minute today about pumping breast milk while in the NICU.  The NICU provides a number of freezers throughout the unit where mothers can store their pumped milk.  When I first arrived at the NICU I was introduced to the freezers and noticed that some shelves were packed full of bottles with no room to spare, and other assigned shelves were embarrassingly scarce.  Some women only needed a tiny door compartment to store their milk, while others needed shelves and drawers to keep up with their ample supply.  I wondered what scenario I would fit into a few weeks from that time.

Within only a week I knew which category I fit into.  I typically produced between 12 and 16 ounces of milk during a pumping session, and I pumped every three hours.  Whoa!  One day I left the parent’s lounge balancing milk bottles carefully on my way to the freezer when I saw another mother leaving a pumping area with only one little bottle in her hand – and it only had about one ounce in it.  How embarrassing!  Of course, maybe she looked at me and thought that I should feel embarrassed.  Who knows.  Anyway, my assigned cubby in the freezer quickly turned into a large shelf, then a freezer drawer, and then back up to two shelves.  I started taking my newest milk home with me to store because I could not fit everything in my space at the NICU.  In time, and to the weirding out of my family, I filled up two large shelves and a door of a standing deep freezer at one sister’s home nearby, a top freezer at another sister’s home, and a complete side-by-side freezer at my dad’s home.  My milk was everywhere!  They all started to refer to me as “Nessie the Milk Cow”.

At least I never had to worry that I would run out of priceless breast milk to feed my preemie baby.  And, I had the opportunity to donate about 3,000 ounces of milk to a milk bank for the benefit of low birth-weight and preemie babies upon my preemie’s discharge from the NICU.  That was a pretty neat experience, and my dad and sisters were sure happy to get their freezer space back!  Ha ha…… good times.

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.


  1. Casey-Leigh says:


    (Feb 11, 10)

  2. Yes, but what ever it takes to help those sweet lil ones get big and strong! 🙂

    (Feb 11, 10)

  3. I used to. Nothing like sitting around women you’ve just met, with your boobs out, pumping away!

    (Feb 11, 10)

  4. Pumped for 4 months, it IS a JOB!!

    (Feb 11, 10)

  5. I do, My daughter is currently in NICU and i feel like i do it all day long. But she doesnt like the formula they tried her while i had no milk and she kept spitting it up. So i know that my milk is well loved. It makes it worth it. Cant wait to hand in the pump for my baby.

    (Feb 11, 10)

  6. lol I thought I was the only one. I kept telling myself I had to put my feelings aside and do what was best for my micro preemie. Now she is a healthy 6 month old and she is still breast feeding. Now I feel it’s a special bond we have. I just started to supplement with formula and she really doesn’t like it, so I’m going to continue pumping. After a few weeks, ladies, it will get better.

    (Feb 13, 10)

  7. It was very difficult ,and i lost my milk supply due to that.

    (Feb 26, 10)


  1. […] February, Afton wrote a terrific post about her pumping experience called “Nessie the Milk Cow.”  Here’s an […]

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