Thursday, February 5, 2009

Longmont moms furnish Westminster girl with milk

Posted by Kim:

By Susan Glairon
Longmont Times-Call

When her daughter would run out of milk, Stacey Vaught would pray. Each time, the Westminster mother’s call for help would be answered, she said.

Doctors had diagnosed, Grace, 2, with a bad case of inflammatory bowel disease, she said. Breast milk is one of the few foods her daughter can digest. One time a phone call from Longmont mom Hannah Gaitten answered Vaught’s prayers.

Gaitten had heard about Grace’s plight through, where a member of Vaught’s church posted a plea for mothers to donate breast milk.

Gaitten contacted the family and then solicited other moms through the momsoflongmont Yahoo group. Three women responded, and the four began pumping breast milk daily for Grace. They soon filled two large coolers with milk, including frozen milk they previously expressed for their own babies but didn’t need.

After collecting the milk, Gaitten called Vaught, and her husband drove to Longmont that day.

“They had just run out of milk,” Gaitten said. “I could hear Grace crying in the background.”

That was two months ago. Since the beginning, seven Longmont moms have pumped for Grace. But Gaitten is having trouble with her own milk supply and is trying to find other nursing mothers to help.

“This is a true need for this family,” Gaitten said. “They really rely on the giving of others.”

‘I knew it wasn’t normal’ Symptoms started about a year ago, when Grace began vomiting almost every night for several months, her mother said.

“The stench was amazing,” Vaught said. “I knew it wasn’t normal. I knew she wasn’t digesting food regularly.”

At one point, Grace cried and screamed for three days and didn’t eat or drink. Vaught and her husband took her to the hospital, where tests were performed, and then found a doctor to treat the disorder.

Soon after, Vaught thought about trying breast milk as Grace had already been weaned and Vaught was still nursing her younger child. The first time Grace drank it, she kept it down.

Vaught prayed: “Lord, if this is something, show me.”

But Vaught, a mother of six, could pump only 4 ounces that day. Armed with $35 and a prescription, she went to Mother’s Milk Bank, a Denver nonprofit, but was shocked to find it would cost $200 a day to buy enough milk for Grace. That day, the milk bank gave her extra.

She prayed again. Mother’s Milk Bank donated $1,000 worth of breast milk. When Vaught ran out of that milk, she prayed again. Samaritans Ministry Christian Health Care, a nonprofit through which Christians help other Christians with medical expenses, donated $21,000 for milk.

Vaught put word out at her church, and news of her plight quickly spread. Other women stepped forward to help, including the group of Longmont women. Through postings on the Internet, she sometimes receives coolers from across the nation from women she has never met.

She admits the milk has not been tested for diseases, but feels that the women had prenatal tests before giving birth.

“It’s really grown my faith,” Vaught said. “The Lord has told me to say, ‘I trust him.’ I trust him.”

She now has a two-week supply in the freezer, including milk recently donated from the Longmont mothers.

Grace drinks a 6-ounce bottle every meal. Vaught has slowly reintroduced some fruits and vegetables, which she rotates with the breast milk. Occasionally, Grace eats small amounts of rice and organic meat. She also takes enzymes to help her digest the food.

“There is no textbook thing about this,” Vaught said. “I have to be creative. I credit attention to what she eats and prayer.

“She can eat. She’s happy. Her hair is growing, and she’s got energy.

“I don’t know how long it has to be this way (drinking breast milk), but I feel like it’s getting better,” Vaught added. “I am thankful she can eat and she can live.”

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