Donating Through Grief: Amy Stebner and Baby Ryder

picture of milk, Amy Stebner and Ryder

There are so many things that people don’t think about when a mother loses her child.

One of the things is what she goes through physically, and every story is unique. I personally had a 30-hour labor. The trauma from that in itself is indescribable. The outcome of the labor is a whole different kind of trauma. The body has a memory for this trauma. Every system is affected.

A hard thing for me was transitioning from being pregnant one day to no longer carrying my child the next. This pregnancy was my priority, my reason for my health being more important than ever. Every single aspect of my life was based around this pregnancy and my son—a new purpose and a new life. A life that is no longer about you but about your child.

The transition from sharing my body with my son to having it just be me again was the hardest thing I have gone through. The emptiness I feel was and still is unbearable.

I don’t look at my body and smile. I don’t find joy in getting fit again. Those were all things I was supposed to look forward to—getting healthy for myself and my new son.

The transition a woman’s body goes through after birth isn’t something I will forget. Yes, many people are able to overlook it because “it was all worth it,” but my case isn’t so. I don’t have the bundle of joy to hold and snuggle after all the pain I have gone through. I only have my memories, pictures, and his stuffed animal.

My body delivered a child, so the body continues to provide what it needs for this child. When my milk came in I felt devastated that I did not have a child to feed. The thought of the liquid gold going to waste was heartbreaking for me. I heard about donating breast milk and I did not think twice about it. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted more than anything for this milk to go to Ryder, but I could not pass up the opportunity to give another child the chance to have the benefit of it. The milk goes to preemie babies and other babies in the NICU. Those stages in their lives are so crucial and the fact that I could help at least one of them is all I needed to know.

As a woman with literally nothing left to give, this has felt monumental.

There are not many positives in a situation like this, but I want people to know there are organizations out there that help people in their greatest time of need—Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast being one of them.

Nothing makes this situation easier, but my soul has a little comfort knowing that Ryder and I have helped other babies become strong and healthy so they can go home to their families and live a fulfilling life.

Read additional posts by bereaved donors.