NICU Nurse, Milk Donor, Mom & Hero

A NICU nurse in the making . . .

As a child, long before she had even heard of a NICU, Ashley knew she wanted to be a nurse. More specifically, she knew she wanted to be a nurse who cared for babies. So when she began working as a NICU nurse and neonatal nurse practitioner, she knew she had found her home.

One of the unique elements of NICU nursing is that you care for the whole family. “The baby is your patient, but the family is who you are talking with. And because babies often stay in the NICU for long periods, you form close bonds with families. Together you watch these babies, babies who often should still be in utero, develop on the outside. And while we never want a baby to be born early, watching them grow is pretty amazing.” 

Answering the call – becoming a milk donor . . .

Ashley started working in the NICU before donor milk was commonly provided to families. She watched mothers struggle, mothers who planned and wanted to breastfeed. Too often those moms had experienced very difficult births, they had a baby with challenging medical needs, and now they were struggling to nourish their little ones in the way they felt was best. Witnessing these struggles inspired Ashley to answer the call and become a milk donor. Not just a one-time donor but a rare and much appreciated three timer!

In 2012 when Ashley’s first daughter was born, Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast was relatively new. Founded in 2006, we received accreditation in 2011. However, Maine Medical, where Ashley worked as a NICU nurse, was already using our donor milk. In fact, the hospital was opening a milk depot where mothers who have been fully screened by the milk bank can drop off their raw milk donations. Ashley was one of the very first donors at that new depot. Going above and beyond, she essentially brought her excess milk to work with her, knowing that once it had been screened and pasteurized at our milk bank, it may end up supporting the families she was serving in her NICU. 

NICU nurse, milk donor, mom & hero . . .

Ashley has three healthy girls now, Ruby, Celia, and Georgia who range in age from 11 to 2 years. She nursed all three and considers herself lucky to have also been able to donate milk with each daughter. “Breastfeeding was easy for me. It was something I really wanted for my girls, and I feel fortunate that I could provide milk for them. I know it’s not easy for everyone and that’s why it was so important to me to donate. You all made the donation process incredibly easy as well. And that’s exactly what parents need when they have little ones.”

Today, Ashley teaches nursing students at St. Joseph’s college in Maine and works as a per diem nurse while mothering her vibrant daughters. In a bittersweet moment, she recently sent us her very last milk donation.

Having shared the liquid love for eleven years, the process had become a family affair. Helping her carefully pack her milk, Ashley’s older girls would ask, “Who gets this milk? Why do they need it? And why do you want to give our milk to them?” Ashley would explain that her milk had helped them grow and could help other babies grow too. Babies who were having a harder time, and moms who needed a little extra help feeding their babies.

Ashley, the now grown little girl who knew her life purpose was caring for babies, is beyond grateful to have answered that call.

We love hearing from and connecting with both our milk donors and recipients. If you have a story you’d like to share, simply send us an email or reach out via social media. Want to get involved but don’t have milk to share? Every dollar donated to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast goes toward helping families. Thank you for making precious milestones possible.

NICU nurse Ashley's little girls

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