There’s a lot that’s wrong with our country right now, a lot of noise, divisive politics, record high inflation, crime and in my most humble opinion, far too much government aide going out of our country to help others while our own American families struggle. And in some cases, as unbelievable of a statement I’m about to make (something I’d never thought I’d live to write) Many American mothers are worried sick that they don’t have enough food for their babies… thanks to the widespread baby formula shortage happening right now. And while I certainly support breastfeeding for mothers who can and want to… I know too well that many cannot. And without schooling you on the various reasons and scenarios why, I will leave that to your own intelligence to understand. (breastfeeding disclaimer at the bottom)
Personally speaking, my first born had open heart surgery at birth, she was given fluid via IV and couldn’t eat anything for the first 11 days of her life for fear she could aspirate. I tried desperately to pump to keep up, but due to the stress and trauma and the fact that I would have to physically leave my baby’s hospital bed to go pump in a nursing station, my supply was all but gone. For a few months I was able to get some breastmilk supplemented in there, but she was mostly fed formula.
And not just any formula…the one and only $50 bucks a can, non generic, AKA “liquid gold” …you know what I’m talkin bout formula feeding parents… “Nu” to the “tram” to the “gen”. Nutramigen. There’s a reason the can is wrapped in a gold label and made my many, like my husband, sweat every time he went to checkout. It isn’t cheap…but at least it was available at any store we went to when we needed it in 2010.
Cut to today, 12 years later…I’m horrified and heartbroken for moms of formula fed babies. Why isn’t the government doing more?!? (Okay Lucy, that’s a whole other article…I won’t go there now) but it makes me so mad… so sad to see so many new moms unable to get formula for their child… in America, the land of the free! WHAT THE ACTUAL (you know)?!?!
And you wanna know what also makes me even MORE MAD?!? Is seeing (pardon my French) but POS price gaugers buying up formula and selling it on ebay and other sites for 3 times the cost. No joke, I saw a much desired and impossibly found can of Puramino selling for $550…for 4 X 14 oz cans! Why?!? Because these A-holes know these moms are absolutely desperate because there are these handful of types formulas that are specifically made for highly sensitive, super allergic babies who most likely were preemies or medically fragile newborns like my Babs. And so their baby literally cannot hold any other type of formula down!!! And guess what?! These formulas are nowhere to be found in a vast majority of stores across America at the moment!
Every day that continues, I got more sick to my stomach…I couldn’t just stand wayside watching these mothers struggle and babies starve and not doing anything! (Kinda like our government is doing right now… okay I’m sorry, I promise I’ll behave.)
Well instead of taking to the streets to rage and make a bunch of noise, I got behind my computer and here is where I’ve sat… for 4 days and counting.
Doing what you might ask?! Well I have this online community called Life of Mom, I’m pretty proud of it and it has a decent size with about 425K mamas following on Facebook. So I did what any respectable geriatric millennial would do…I posted on Facebook!
I put a call out to moms in need of formula and moms who had access to formula via their baby transitioning to toddler or hitting up their local stores to pick up a container or two.
(Disclaimer: before someone comes at me like “why don’t you leave the formula for the locals” cause internet haters love to make sure no good deed goes unpunished. Let me explain something, there are some states that have far more formulas and brand options than others. For example and this is going off of just how many moms I’ve chatted with the past few days, states like Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio and Michigan have far less than other states. And none of my moms helping are hoarding, they will pick up 2-4, maybe 5 cans if it’s fully stocked at a time…because Lord knows formula is not cheap… and there are a lot looking for that liquid gold! )
Basically I’ve been like air traffic control but for moms all over the country. For example, Elizabeth in Georgia is down to her last can of special formula for her premie who just came home from the hospital, only there is no formula available in stores anywhere in a 100 mile radius.
Well I’m able connect Elizabeth with Jodie in Indiana who fortunately lives in a town where, unlike Elizabeth, the baby formula shelves at Walmart, Walgreens and Costco are completely stocked!
Enter good ole Luce (yes I just referred to myself in 3rd person)
So Mom in need emails me what she needs and I track down and put a call out to my moms via Life of Mom’s Facebook page and suddenly, I have moms (and dads) coming out of every corner of this country to help donate! Some donate formula, some donate to my Venmo ( @lifeofmom ) to help cover the formula and shipping costs. This way there is no financial burden on either mom getting or sending the formula, thanks to all the moms and dads donating out there desperate to help fix this crisis! That’s what we call a win win win ladies and gentlemen!!!
And to make it a win win win WIN situation… we stick it to the POS price gougers online trying to rob these parents, just like we are being robbed with gas and groceries. (Okay fine, I’ll stop, but where’s the lie… okay no, I won’t go there.)
So as much as my back is starting to resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame and my kids guilting me for being on the computer all day and night… when I explain to them what I’m doing, how “I’m helping find babies that need food” they kinda lay off me… Kinda. Nevermind, they are fully on me as I write this.
Control Tower landing the plane… haha it’s punny right?! Here are some highlights I want to share with you that I have observed that, if you are still reading this; A) I’m impressed. And B) I think it’s the faith in humanity and America that we need.
Like when the dozens of breastfeeding moms email me because they have cans of formula samples that they don’t need but want to help other moms. And y’all KNOW lugging a baby to a post office to mail 3 sample cans of formula to 3 different moms is no easy feat!
Or like when an officer of our U.S. military who is stationed in Korea emails me because he has picked up 3 cans of the very popular and much needed Enfamil Gentlease to ship back to the states to help American moms and babies. (Insert tears)
Or when moms from Canada, Mexico, Australia, Germany and South Africa (yes, all these countries reached out) and offered to ship any baby formula we need. (insert more tears because I love this worldwide Life of Mom community so much!)
Or the dozens, if not hundreds of moms who had preemie babies years ago and want to pay it forward and help in any and every way possible! For reference, many of these moms in need had preemies and need specific formula…I may have already said that.
Or all the grandmas and aunts and friends emailing me for baby formula for their daughter or sister who just had preemie twins and are coming home from the hospital.
And y’all…(okay I know I’m ridiculous being from Chicago using the term y’all like Michigan-born Madonna speaks with a British accent) but y’all…
When I tell you the responses I get back from moms after finding out we have found their baby their next can of formula… (tears)You feel their relief and gratitude, going from the weight of that first email desperately seeking formula for their baby’s survival to feeling like a Mack truck has lifted off their shoulders. Here’s me, receiving these responses, like Quasimodo jumping for that preverbal Notre Dame bell to ring with joy! No joke, a mom emailed me a few hours ago a photo of a freshly dumped batch of enfamil gentlease and enfamil neuropro and it felt like that time I won a minivan on the Price is Right. (true story)
Now if only I had Elon’s deep pockets (or Ukraine’s… no guys, I’m kidding, I’m done. I won’t say another thing.) But basically if I was super rich (or I don’t know… was funded by taxpayers dollars), I’d give all of these mama’s a year supply. But this is grass roots, what started with writing a few names in an envelope to a notepad with color coded pens. Red in need. Green has the stuff. It’s nothing glamorous, but to quote The Greatest Showman…this is me.
Working the control tower of moms is my favorite, there have been direct connections, some delays, very few cancellations and many more connections to come… but unlike unaffordable flight costs (see I resisted a dig at oil prices,LOL) Let me try again, but unlike the cost of these connections, it’s all free for mom and babies, as it should be right now! Congress… y’all taking notes?
Wait… Lucy Riles 2024?!? Nah.
True to my enneagram and Myers Briggs personality tests, I’m going to end with going full emo because I have cried quite a bit these past few days. But I couldn’t help but think of my angels, my mom and my stillborn son Scotland…
one loved babies and children and the precious gift that they encompassed more than anyone in the world.
The other was my baby, just weeks shy of some of the baby’s moms I was chatting with.. One mom in Louisiana was full of worry and panic trying to find her baby who was born at 22 weeks and now home but needs formula. 22 weeks…damn…2 weeks longer and maybe my boy could have made it. Maybe not.
But one thing I was completely sure of was that I was going to get this mama and her baby formula come hell or high water if I have flu my ass on a red eye down to Louisiana to hand it to her myself…but I know my place is important. I need to stand steady at the control tower.
But just so we are clear, none of this and I mean NONE of it happens without ALL of them going to stores and post offices and donating money so all they the moms who are boots on the ground are not burdened with costs and most importantly, that the mom and baby on the other side of that package is not burdened with a thought of how she’s going to feed her baby.
Ha! Ya know what I just thought of…it’s funny how when you take the government and mainstream media out of the equation, not one of us moms were thinking about political affiliation, race, religion or anything… no “oh I can’t ship to that red state! Or oh I don’t want to help a mom from that blue city!” None of that.
We are all just moms…
Doing what we do best…
Moms helping moms.
Now I’ve spent far too much time writing this and must get back to the control tower but for moms… we have some very important connections to make;)
Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder
(Disclaimer: this is NOT an opportunity to preach your mom shaming lecture about how moms need to be breastfeeding. Stop it. Just stop it right now. No no Janice, don’t test me… I will absolutely delete any and all judgy comments below that go after any and all moms! Here is the golden rule for motherhood… MORE SUPPORT, LESS JUDGEMENT!)