Donating Through Grief: Amy and Bryson Anderson’s Story

Originally posted on October 15, 2015.

By Amy Anderson, MMBNE First Bereaved Donor

My high school sweetheart and I have been together for more than half of our lives.  We have journeyed through some unexpected storms and stumbled into many hidden blessings. Ironically, it is during the darkest periods that I discovered my life’s purpose. It is with an undying passion that I share my story of life, loss, love, and lactation.

Our sunshine, Brody Kaleb, was the first to fulfill my dreams by making me a mother. Owen Taylor is our surprise rainbow baby and our youngest miracle. On the exterior, we seem like a typical family of four; however, there are four more. You won’t see them in family pictures or on our family outings, though, because our precious middle children live within our hearts. Joey Skylor, Bryson, Bean, and SweetPea came into our lives just long enough to breathe passion into our souls.  Every life has purpose and the ability to enhance someone else’s world. The brief lives of my angel babies were to inspire me—giving hope, courage, and strength to save the lives of others’ babies, though I could do nothing for my own.

After Bryson succumbed to a 20-week battle for life from the womb, an induction tore his body from mine and a subsequent blur of events took place (among them, choosing a crematorium, final goodbyes, and being discharged from the hospital). I was completely numb.  Reality only hit when my body revealed its profound grief through endless, agonizing tears of gold. I felt I had lost everything, including hopes, dreams, and my perfectly envisioned future, until I suddenly realized I still had a purpose as his mom and he still had something invaluable to share—his “liquid platinum,” or pre-term breast milk, and a chance at life for other babies. My angels inspired me to see beyond my personal heartbreak and to brave the boundary between death and life, grief and purpose, hope and healing.

I fondly remember, as I would express Bryson’s milk every couple hours around the clock, feeling an overwhelming comfort and closeness to him. It was truly an expression of love!  I had not expected this blessing in disguise. However, I discovered that love is all about the action, not the potential. The ability to love is placed inert into our hearts, but it only becomes real when one takes action and gives it away. My grief was so immense because I had an abundance of love for my angels, which they were unable to receive. As our legacy continues, I am increasingly inspired to share this love in remembrance of my precious little ones.

In honor of my forever babies, 11,762 ounces of Bryson’s breast milk was donated over an 8-month period; that’s almost 92 gallons that was spread across at least 5 states and 3 different countries! Furthermore, my Joey Skylor, Bryson, Bean, and SweetPea have awakened within me an additional purpose as their mom. It has become a highly treasured mission of mine to be able to connect with and support other bereaved moms. After Bryson was stillborn, I unfortunately had to lead myself blindly through my body’s postpartum pains due to commonly held misconceptions, inexperience in the realm of lactation after loss, and societal views toward pregnancy and infant loss. Thanks to my journey, I have become passionate about advocating for the rights of bereaved mothers, spreading awareness and education about baby loss grief, lactation after loss, and the option of donating through grief. I have accepted this purpose with great passion as an expression of a mother’s undying love.

If you are a bereaved donor and want to be in touch about our special programs for bereaved donors, please contact Ann Marie Lindquist, Director of Community Relations.

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