Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

On Feeding My Friend’s Daughter When I Couldn’t Feed Mine

On Feeding My Friend

So my dear friend Lauren, whom you may have heard on Monday’s podcast, wrote a really lovely blog post about me donating my breast milk to her and her daughter after Evie passed away. It was something that was meaningful to her and to me, and she wanted to share it. I expected some kind comments and general well wishes from her facebook followers. What I didn’t expect, however, was for this story to be shared by huge online media sources like Today Parents, Huff Post Parents, Scary Mommy, and Babble. I was for real blown away by how many people were interested in that story. It was nuts.

I am fully aware of the life cycle of viral posts (although I’m not necessarily sure that it reached “viral” proportions), and I am fully aware that the viral wave of this post is surely fading into the sea of next week, so I won’t mention it much more. But, there are a few things I really wanted to say while this story is still fresh on people’s minds.

Pumping milk for Arsema after Evie passed away was a blessing for me. It was good for me to sit and be still and take the time to think and reflect on Evie’s life and pray for Arsema’s future. It was also good for my postpartum body – breastfeeding aids in returning your uterus back to normal size. And honestly, I was just happy for the opportunity to pump because I felt like allowing my milk to just dry up would cause my heart more pain. So, even though readers are commenting on what an amazing woman I am for making that decision, it really felt so normal. Logical, really. A blessing, certainly, on both sides. But maybe not as saintly as others seem to think.

The Babble article quoted me saying that, if roles were reversed, I am certain Lauren would have extended the same kindness to me. That is without a doubt. And I am blessed to be acquainted with dozens of amazing women who would do the same – for me, for Lauren, for each other. I am one in a population of many Christ-like women who pour themselves out for others on a day to day basis. It is a club I feel privileged to be a part of.

I also wanted to add a note for women suffering infant loss, or anticipating losing their baby. Pumping for Arsema was exactly the right thing for me to do after losing Evie. The opportunity was there and I was grateful for it. It felt right for my grieving heart.

But after losing my son, Charlie, in September 2015, I chose to do the opposite. The shock and pain of losing another sweet baby after birth was just too deep – I couldn’t bring myself to pump. Disgusted by the whole gut-wrenching situation I just let my milk dry up on its own. It was a tearful three or so days, but that’s what felt right to me at that time.

So to any woman out there who has read the articles and wonders how she should handle her postpartum milk supply after losing her baby I say, do what feels right for you. Whether you pump and find healing there, or actively work to prevent your body from producing milk at all, both are right. The depth of pain after losing an infant is something I have still never been able to find adequate words for. Do what feels best for you, and that is exactly the right choice.

Those are my reflections on what has been popping up all over the interweb for the last week. A truly heartfelt thank you to Lauren for writing this article and allowing me some exposure as I continue to try and influence others for Christ with my story. Yet another reason why your friendship means so much – you’re always looking out for me.

Thanks for following friends. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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