Call an ambulance . . .
Two-year-old Will was over the moon when the fire trucks arrived. His mom, Kate, was relieved to see them but was even more relieved when the ambulance arrived two minutes later. It was late May, and her twins were due in August. She had a regular visit to the doctor planned that day but had started feeling sick the night before. Assuming it was just a nasty virus, she began her usual morning routine, but something wasn’t quite right. Before long, instead of calling an Uber she was calling an ambulance . . .
An unexpected delivery . . .
Safely loaded into the ambulance, Kate’s neighbor and friend suddenly appeared. Offering to take Will, who was strapped into the front seat (happily chatting up the EMTs), this friend was one of many heroes that day.
Kate’s home in Boston’s South End was only a six-minute ride to the hospital where she planned to deliver. But just a few minutes into the ride she was frantically telling one of the two young male EMTs, “I think I just had a baby. Can you check?”
“Are you sure ma’am,” he asked her, clearly taken aback.
“Yes! Yes!” she insisted.
And when he did, he found a tiny baby girl. Baby Lily.
Let’s call your husband . . .
They promptly stopped the ambulance. And as EMTs began wrapping up the baby, a woman EMT abruptly entered the back of the vehicle. Immediately orders were flying. Relieved that someone was taking control, Kate was still (understandably) terrified. Her baby had arrived but was not making a sound. And here she was in the back of an ambulance, without her husband, and with another baby on the way. Pure panic.
The woman EMT told Kate, “I think we should go to the nearest NICU now that your daughter is born. She is breathing and we are caring for her, but we need support and there’s another hospital even closer to us. If it were me, I would get there now.” Kate agreed and the ambulance was on the move again.
“I want to prepare you for arrival,” said the EMT gently. “It might feel overwhelming. There is going to be a large group there ready to take care of your daughter and you. Let’s call your husband.”
Kate’s husband, Joe, was en route to their original thinking that’s where his wife was headed. He picked up his phone expecting his wife on the line. Instead, an EMT told him that she was with Kate and his new daughter – and they were heading to a totally different hospital.
“Kate and my daughter? What?! How can I have a new daughter already? Why am I not there? How fast can I get there?” Joe’s head was swirling as he started his next mad dash across the city. He was determined to get to his wife and babies.
Welcoming baby Matt . . .
The EMT had not been exaggerating. It looked to Kate like the entire hospital’s worth of medical personnel were in the bay as the ambulance pulled in. She was barely able to brush a kiss on little Lily’s forehead before she was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They rushed Kate up to labor and delivery. There, she almost immediately brought her son, Matt, into the world. At 3 lbs., it didn’t take a lot of pushing to deliver him. Which certainly didn’t mean it was easy – or pain free! And then, Matt too was whisked away to the NICU.
When her husband Joe raced into the room, Kate was there, and both babies were being cared for elsewhere. He took one look at his beautiful wife and burst into tears. The worry, the insanity of not knowing what was going on with his family and trying so hard to get there. Well, that took a toll too. They cried together and then, as Kate began to recover, information overload kicked in.
Doctors told them the twins would likely need to stay in the NICU until their original due date and to prepare themselves for that. They also told them that breastmilk is the most important thing for babies born prematurely. Finally, doctors asked if the twins could receive donor milk if Kate didn’t have enough breastmilk right away. This was an easy question for her – of course they can. Kate wanted everything that would help her babies grow and protect their health. If another mom could help with that, she would be all for it. And grateful.
A milk donor supporting and saving tiny lives . . .
Ultimately, Lily and Matt didn’t need donor milk. Kate was able to start pumping right away and kept up a strong milk supply, something not every mom can do, especially after such an early and challenging birth. Her babies were fed an exclusive human milk diet from her. It wasn’t easy (waking up every two hours to pump never is) but Kate was lucky. She had the help of wonderful lactation consultants and nurses. She also had access to a hospital-grade breast pump.
Weeks later, as her pumping continued and the twins kept growing, one of the nurses said, “You have a lot of milk – you’re pumping for triplets!” That was the first time Kate thought she could possibly become one of the angel milk donors who makes sure every baby in need has access to donor milk. With the help of longtime friend and milk bank volunteer Natalee Martin, Kate learned about Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. As one of our generous and lifesaving milk donors, she pumped for a full year, sharing her excess milk with the babies we serve.
Today, Matt and Lily are both thriving at four years old. “You would never know they were born so small and early,” Kate tells me. Big brother Will is a masterful 6-year-old. This is a family that knows gratitude, knows love, and knows the power of sharing. Thank you for being part of our milk bank family. We couldn’t do it without you.