Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

It was 2016 when I first heard the story of a mom, similar to my age, who unexpectedly died during childbirth as she was giving birth to her eighth child.

Died during childbirth.

Those words alone have haunted me since I first heard about her story, and continue to resonate in my mind whenever I rock my own children to sleep.

The baby, innocent, fresh, full-formed . . . lived, and will never know the sweet scent of her own mother.

However, through word of mouth, instant technology, and a group of mamas that understood the weight of a mother dying and leaving her new baby in an unknown world caused a community centered around breastfeeding to be conceived.

It was the mother’s wish that her daughter be breastfed, a gift of time and love she had given her previous seven children.

A Facebook group was formed and within the first 12 hours of the tragic news circulating, more than 2,000 ounces of breastmilk had been collected for the little girl.

Breastmilk from mothers across the area and surrounding states that woke in the wee hours of the night to nurse their own babes back to sleep, mothers that sit in tiny office cubicles hunkered down under desks pumping milk, mothers that sit in hospital rooms holding their small babes hooked up to machines nursing in hopes to one day escape the confining walls.

The baby had a group of mamas all around her, working to keep her alive on the sweet, natural nectar her biological mother recognized as important.

The group was successful in collecting thousands of ounces of breastmilk for the baby to eat during her first year of life. She thrived from a community of mothers who wanted nothing but the very best for her.

At the time of her death, I only had one child. My breastfeeding journey did not start out strong and had its fair share of ups and downs. Much like riding a bike, the first several months of nursing my son were filled with frustration, sleepless nights, a skinny babe, weighed feeds, tears, emergency surgery, re-lactating, and finally . . . growth. The journey with my daughter has been one of ease, health, and peace.

It was a sweet friend who casually sent a text message during the first few weeks I was learning what it meant to be “Mom” that offered ounces of her own milk to help aid my new son. An offer that I did not turn down, and still consider one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.

Collectively, I have breastfed for almost three years of my life. Two different children, two completely separate human beings, both nourished at the beginning of their lives by me. This will win me no awards, many will not care, my own children may never even realize, but it has been one of my biggest accomplishments.

When I told others of my goals for breastfeeding in the hospital after just giving birth to my son I didn’t think it possible, when I had surgery and my first baby was losing weight I thought it ridiculous, and when I wake up at 2:30 a.m. most nights to comfort a crying soul I often think it dumb, but we continue to make it.

Recently, I have had the honor and blessing of being able to provide for many mothers desiring to feed their children with breastmilk. I feel in a way it is my time to repay the kindness shown to me during my lowest moments of motherhood.

Their stories and backgrounds all vary, their children are different ages, but their need is the same.

Some women don’t produce enough, a bond I share with many after the experiences with my son. Some, are sick. Physically unable to produce the milk that they desire to give to their children because they are fighting for their own lives. Some are grandmothers who pick up milk for their grandchildren, who they have stepped up to raise at a moment’s notice.

I delicately place each bag of milk into a storage container and think about the children who will receive my milk. This milk that was pumped during the hours of the night when my entire house is silent with rest and I can hear the breaths of my baby just inches away. I am comforted by her presence and caressing her forehead as she dreams sends my mind to the little girl who never got to meet her own mother. In some small way I take delight in knowing that through my milk, I can nurture those I may never even meet.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding talks about the connection most breastfeeding women have with one another. A connection I did not understand until I started breastfeeding:

Many women are surprised by the passion they come to feel about breastfeeding. If you meet another breastfeeding woman anywhere in the world, you feel a connection, no matter how different her culture is, and no matter how long ago you or she breastfed your babies. Not many of us felt this passionately about breastfeeding until we did it ourselves, and many of us remember it as one of the best things we do in our lives. The experience is just that powerful.

Breastfeeding is many things. I don’t claim to understand them all, on the hard days I don’t feel like I know much, but on the good days, I am pushed to feel that much stronger for the decision I made to nourish my children.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding goes on to talk about the breastfeeding journey like this: 

Breastfeeding eases you into your identity as a mother. You’re your baby’s food source and you’re the one who can comfort him best, so you’re the one he turns to. Your body responds instinctively . . . you don’t have to think through what to do once you get the hang of it.

Instinctively, we as mothers know what to do. We step in at a moment’s notice to help a baby we might never even know. We pump or feed for our own babies with the hope they will one day grow to be strong, healthy, and smart. We give of ourselves for the betterment of someone else. We nurture and we care.

We chug along, and we bond together.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

You may also like:

I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me This About Breastfeeding

I Exclusively Pumped for a Year—And My Baby and I Thrived

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Emily Reed

Emily Reed is a stay-at-home mom to two small children. After previously working in the newspaper industry, she now freelances for several publications.

A C-Section Mom Simply Needs You to Hear Her Story

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn baby crying in doctor's hands

As an expecting mother, I was told all about the sleepless nights. People made sure to give their opinion on whether I should bottle feed, breastfeed, or exclusively pump. I was told which swaddle to buy, which sound machine worked best, and when to introduce a pacifier. They told me about sleep training but that it really didn’t matter because I wouldn’t get any sleep anyway. Whenever I would mention how scared I was to give birth, I’d always get the same response: oh. honey, don’t worry, your body will know what to do. I remember listening to calming meditations...

Keep Reading

Feed Them—and Other Ways To Help NICU Parents

In: Baby, Motherhood
Parents holding hands of premature baby in NICU

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about our reality as NICU parents to a healthy, brilliant NICU graduate. Our child was born very prematurely and spent weeks in the NICU so he could grow and stabilize. My first experience as a mother of a baby was shattered in so many ways. Trauma still lingers, but I am so grateful for all I have learned from our time beside our little baby in his isolette bed. One thing I learned was that some people who really want to help support NICU parents really don’t know how they can. Here are some...

Keep Reading

From Baby to Boy

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler boy asleep with legs tucked under his belly

The sweet snuggles and sighs are slowly making way for more crawling climbing and exploring each day. And just when I think my baby is gone, you snuggle into my chest, convincing me I’m wrong. I watch as you excitedly chase after your sis and giggle as you share with me your slobbery kiss. RELATED: They Tell You To Hold the Baby, But No One Warns You How Fast He Grows Daytime hours bring playful adventures as I watch my baby leave, but then a sleeping bum curled in the air makes me believe that these cherished baby moments haven’t...

Keep Reading

Having Two Under Two Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler and newborn lying next to each other on a bed

My baby was 14 months old when I found out I was pregnant with baby number two. He had just learned how to walk, still requiring me to walk behind him holding both of his hands above his head so he wouldn’t topple over. In other words, my baby was still very much a baby, and I couldn’t believe I’d be adding another baby to the mix. Excited, but mostly terrified, I researched and read more articles than I can count on what it’s like to be a parent of two under two. These articles more often than not use...

Keep Reading

I Thought Failure to Thrive Meant I Was Failing

In: Baby, Motherhood
Baby drinking bottle, color photo

Failure. That’s all I read. It’s all I saw. It was the only thing I could focus on. I’m sure the doctor said it at some point during the appointment, but it wasn’t until it was right there staring at me in black and white that it clicked . . . “failure to thrive.” I was officially failing my daughter. A couple of years down the road, I now realize how irrational and far from the truth that was, but at the time, it was all I could focus on. I wish more than anything that they had a better,...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

New Mama, It Might Not Be Okay Now but It Will Be

In: Baby, Motherhood
New baby looking at camera, black and white image

It was 2:30 in the morning, I was sitting on the bed with tears streaming down my face, my 7-week-old son crying in my arms. Everything hurt—my engorged breasts, my cracked and bleeding nipples, my back where I had taken two epidurals. It hurt to sit, not only from birth but from the stitches, and I was tired. “It’s okay,” my husband said, rubbing my back in small conciliatory circles, but it wasn’t okay. When they placed my son in my arms for the first time I cried tears of joy, made promises for the future, bolstered by the love I...

Keep Reading

“Please Help Mommy to Be Patient, and the Baby to Stay Alive in Her Tummy.”

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
Toddler with hand on mother's pregnant belly

“Please help Mommy to be patient, and the baby to stay alive in her tummy.” It was my little girl’s daily prayer during my pregnancy. That prayer for patience—it stung a bit even though I had told her she could pray that I would be patient. It wasn’t necessarily that she or her sisters were testing my limits, but this pregnancy rage had gotten to be a real thing. If there is one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that I can’t do it on my own. I need the help of my Heavenly Father, and I need others. I...

Keep Reading

I Know I’m Done, but I’ll Always Want Another Baby

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother touches nose to baby's smiling face, close up color photo

I was sorting clothes into tubs to donate, consign, or keep for my 1-year-old, and I came across a newborn outfit amongst a bunch of bigger kid clothes. I had gotten rid of all of my 1-year-old son’s newborn and infant things last year, but he still seems small and baby-like to me, compared to my 5-year-old. But I’m telling you, when I held up that teeny-tiny outfit, my heart broke. It looked too small to be real. To fit anything other than a doll. But, it did. My older son wore it on his first Christmas. I know I’m...

Keep Reading

I Lost You Just as I Started Loving You

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
first trimester ultrasound image of baby

I didn’t know I was already losing you just as I was starting to love you. I didn’t know while I was so excited and hopeful for all the things to come, you were already leaving my body. And my heart. I didn’t know something like this could happen in what feels like both an instant and an eternity. That it would feel like it was just yesterday we saw those two pink lines and yet here we are, eight weeks later, without even an ultrasound picture to hold. I didn’t know how angry it would make me that life...

Keep Reading