Seven months after having twins, Kate Torgensen was determined to go on a business trip, but was panic-stricken thinking about how she would feed her babies over the four days she would be gone.
Not only did she need to pump two gallons of milk in advance of leaving, but she also had to keep them fed while she stockpiled — as well as pump an additional two gallons while she was away that somehow had to make it through TSA, cold.
“I didn’t know how I was going to do this,” Torgensen, 44, tells PEOPLE. “It was a really painful moment, and because I had twins and was producing so much milk it made everything around it even more painful.”
“I wanted to be committed to the job, but I was also all-in on the kids to get that breast milk,” Torgensen says. “It felt like a really weird moment where there was a family trade-off or a career trade-off. And neither would have been the end of the world, but it was a trade-off I didn’t want to make.”
Torgensen ended up going on the trip, “pumping relentlessly,” and taking a “really crazy” amount of milk through TSA. She also came home determined to find a better way for other moms. Nine months later, with help from her father, she created Milk Stork, a service that sends a cooler and milk bags to pumping moms so they can package and store their milk and ship it home overnight.
Milk Stork launched in August 2015, originally targeting women as customers. But within two weeks a company reached out about providing the service to their employees. The success of Milk Stork grew from there. In January 2017, there were had 26 companies on board — one year later that number is nearly 100.
“It’s been amazing to see how eager companies are to support their working moms,” Torgensen says. “We have SAP, Activision, Unilever, Viacom. Really big companies are realizing the importance of supporting moms in the workplace.”
They also have women reaching out on their own, and many who are using the service and asking their employers to reimburse them (“rightfully,” Torgensen adds).
“My favorite feedback is ‘this is a game changer,’ ” she says. “Having lived it myself, I know how much it helps this one, complex logistical problem, that unless you breastfed you wouldn’t know is a problem. It’s validating to know that there are other women out there who want this.”