Secret Santa: A Tale of Donating Milk

“How could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.”
The Grinch puzzled, looking for the meaning of Christmas, but in our case, maybe it can come in a box…

Cue Jessica Kasselman, mom of two, donating her extra breast milk (again!) to save the world, one premature baby at a time.

“I donated my excess supply to the milk bank after helping the community directly. Once I found out the milk bank was helping micropreemies, I knew I wanted to help.”

It’s still an idea cloaked by misconceptions and misunderstanding, so Jessica tells her own tale now.

To your kids, what will you tell them as to why you donated your milk?

“When you have an ability and are given an opportunity to help, always take it. Since we have an abundance of breast milk, it’s only right to share it with those that are in need!”

To the community, why is it important to be aware of milk banks and what they do?

“Breast milk banks are helping fragile babies survive and thrive! We are helping to build immunity and nourish the future of our world! It’s so important to give these babies everything they need.”

To the families of children in the NICU, what words of motivation could you offer about the community standing behind them?

“We are not standing behind you! We are standing BESIDE you!”

“There are people you have never met that are routing for you and your little fighter(s)!”

“It takes a village to raise our children and I’m so honored to be a part of your village. Even if a milk donation takes the slightest bit of stress away from you, that makes this whole thing worth it to me!”
Jessica has been able to see her children thrive and was thus, “inspired to share with the most needy population there was.”

Admittedly, it is not all bows and ribbons and it was not easier the second time around.
“I wish I could say it was like riding a bicycle for me, but it certainly hasn’t been.”

“Each child and experience is totally different.”

“Pregnancy, delivery, recovery, nursing, and pumping have all been unique experiences.
My supply is definitely different [this time]. In some areas, I feel like it’s my first time all over again. In others, it’s almost like muscle memory.”
The whole process, whether motherhood or milk donor, continues to be a learning process for all of us. It takes practice, commitment, and learning to ask for help.

“The best advice I was given was, ‘Don’t quit on a bad day.’ 

That one statement got me through the days when I wanted to give up, especially in the beginning.”

Jessica credits being involved with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as incredibly helpful. She also recommends finding a breastfeeding support group.

“Go to meetings, meet other parents that are on a breastfeeding journey, and ask for help!”

One of her biggest supporters? Her husband and father of her two children.

In the beginning, he didn’t think the process would involve him, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

“As a dad and husband, you are involved as much as you let yourself, from lactation cookie baking, to learning what foods help increase supply, to being a coach and supporter on the hard days.”

For someone that hadn’t ever been around breastfeeding, other than the occasional article or debate about doing it in public, his first exposure was huge.

“The process of being a breastfeeding mom is hard but rewarding. It’s made easier and more rewarding if [partners] help in any way possible and no matter what, [are] supportive.  It’s a cheaper, natural, healthier way to feed your baby and ensure they get what they need.”

It makes a world of difference having supporters and advocates, even on the small scale. We all have something to learn when we’re introduced to a new life.

“I appreciate and respect the female anatomy on a whole different level, now that I see what the body is capable of [doing] to help the baby survive. Mothers are amazing and the power of breast milk is limitless.”

“And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Whatever you celebrate, may you do it together. As you take down your trees and reinvent in the new year, may you be inspired by the goodness of your community.


From all of us here at the milk bank, thank you to the families that shared their liquid gold in 2017. There was no greater gift you could have given.


Interview and article by Cheyenne Drews.