Johnnie and Ashley Hoskins' journey to parenthood was not an easy one. The Hoskins faced years of infertility, loss, and heartbreak. “We just really wanted to be parents,” said Johnnie. After nine years of waiting, their son, Easton was born two months prematurely in August of 2021. Due to his premature birth, Ashley experienced delayed lactation which is common for mothers of preterm babies. Easton received pasteurized donor human milk during his NICU stay until Ashley’s milk came in. They were not familiar with donor milk before then. After learning about the benefits, they were grateful their son had access to donor milk.
Johnnie’s role at work was remote at the time of their son’s birth and NICU stay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This allowed Johnnie the ability to spend most of his days working by Easton's bedside. Johnnie was thankful for the ability to support his family both financially and physically at the same time. Ashley worked part-time when she was able. Like many parents, she wanted to save some of her maternity leave for once their son was discharged from the NICU.
“Easton spent 88 days in the NICU, and he was released the day before Thanksgiving. He was later re-admitted around Christmas time due to a respiratory infection for a shorter stay,” said Johnnie.
Ashley established an abundant supply of milk and decided to become a milk donor through Mothers’ Milk Bank of Tennessee after seeing the impact donor milk had on their son. Ashley spent countless hours pumping for over 20 months. Johnnie proved to be a great source of support for Ashley as she selflessly pumped for not only her son but for hundreds of babies that benefitted from her donations of thousands of ounces.
“One thing I found that was so important was to take care of everything I could while Ashley was pumping,” said Johnnie. While Ashley was pumping, Johnnie cared for Easton, helped Ashely stay awake during middle of the night pump sessions, and took care of other things Ashley was unable to do because she was confined to her pump. He also made sure Ashley spent time holding Easton when she finished with her pump sessions. “I let her know that she was doing a great job. I always tried to show love and encouragement,” said Johnnie.
Johnnie also helped lighten Ashley's load as a donor mom by delivering her milk donations to the Milk Drop Depot at Erlanger in Chattanooga when needed.
Johnnie said the most rewarding part about fatherhood is, “watching him experience things for the first time, and watching him develop relationships with friends and family.”
Johnnie is going to spend this Father’s Day with his father-in-law and family at the beach. This trip will mark their son’s second time at the beach which makes it extra special.
Mothers’ Milk Bank of Tennessee is grateful to the families like the Hoskins whose contributions provide life-saving nutrition to premature babies like Easton. If you would like to share your family’s story, please visit milkbanktn.org/share-your-story.