A unique donation from one alum feeds hundreds of premature babies
Ten thousand ounces of milk. That is over 78 gallons, 1,700 bags, 208 hours at the pump, 50 hours of bagging, three blood draws, no medications of any kind, three packed deep freezers, and over 833 sessions of sitting on the kitchen stool.
This was Monique (Witkowski) Borzick’s life for 10 months after giving birth to her third child. The difference this time is that all that she supplied was not going only to her child. In 2014, Borzick had learned about Tiny Treasures Milk Bank and after realizing how much milk she was producing, she decided to become a donor.
“My inspiration was to help preemie babies and to help the stress levels of the parents knowing that their babies are going to get breast milk,” said Borzick.
Borzick graduated from Illinois State in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. Here is where she also met her husband, Tristan Borzick.
As a former swimmer at Illinois State, she understood the importance of opportunity and perseverance. When she was presented with this one, she could not pass it up.
“I felt so accomplished as a human being,” Borzick said. “There are so many times we see the opportunity where we can help and don’t jump at it. I put time aside and decided this is what I was going to do. I haven’t had an athletic experience in a long time. I am a coach, but it’s different when you’re doing it yourself.” Borzick said that the company, Prolacta Bioscience, had restrictions and requirements throughout the breast milk donation process. There was no medication allowed, blood work was taken every 123 days, the multiple freezers had to be tested, and they required signed forms from her pediatrician and obstetrician.
If the strict rules were not enough, Borzick had a disciplined pumping schedule to follow which did not include feeding her own child.
“I would wake up and pump at 7:30, again at 10:30, at 1:30, and pump again at 5, 8, and around 11 or 11:30 right before I went to bed. I was up at 1:30 a.m. again to pump, then again at 4. I did that every day.”
If one can imagine, Borzick had to stick to this schedule when traveling. She recalled the time she and her husband took their three children to Disney World over the summer. During the long drive to Florida, she pumped and stuck her milk in the freezer they had in their car. At the parks, she detoured into the mommy rooms stationed throughout the park.
Borzick commends her husband and her children for being so understanding and flexible, especially on that family trip.
“My husband was fantastic during the whole process,” she said. “He helped me box all of my bags. He dropped them off at FedEx. He was educated throughout the whole process. He is completely okay with other women breastfeeding because he knows the importance of it.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk possesses many health benefits for babies, especially if they are premature. The milk contains certain enzymes that are crucial to the baby and their immune system. Breast milk can also help people with other health problems such as skin irritation and cataracts.
Borzick saw donating breast milk as the most nutritious and fastest way to get premature babies out of the hospital. When asked if she would do something like this again, she did not hesitate to say yes.
“Absolutely! If my body did what it did again, I would absolutely do it. I knew it was my last hurrah, so I decided to do it one last time. It was so bittersweet.” October 2017 marked the end of Borzick’s difficult, but fulfilling journey.
“There are a lot of stipulations you have to follow. I am a full-time working mom and that was very trying,” Borzick said. Between a full-time job, three children, and a demanding time schedule, hard work is an understatement. “I sucked it up and knew what I had to do. I had a goal in my mind. In the end, it was so rewarding.”
Borzick now resides in Plainfield, Illinois, with her husband and three children, where she is the aquatics director at Lockport Township High School.