Mary shared her story of donating milk after loss as she shipped “our first 200 ounces of liquid gold sent with love from Gabe, in memory of his big brother, Baby Shane, for all the little fighters who need this to grow strong.”
By Mary Montague Tremper
Thank you to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast for providing the opportunity to share the love and continue Shane’s legacy. It’s especially beautiful to be able to donate on the second anniversary of his death. Just two years ago, as we sat helpless watching him pass in our arms, we were told our wish to donate his precious organs, as we had hoped to do, was formally denied; they suspected his brain mass was cancer, which we later found out to be true. Our last chance to help others with his beautiful, strong, and brave little body was gone because of the horrible disease that took our baby, our hope, and now even our spirit. It was a crushing blow. But in that room, as I said goodbye to his tiny little body for the last time, I promised him I would do everything I could to keep him alive in our hearts and to keep his legacy alive by helping others.
I had read about the milk bank and knew it was a place to start. I went through the approval process and was able to donate all of the extra milk I had pumped during Shane’s life that we had frozen, and I continued pumping for five and half weeks after he died in order to honor each day of Shane’s life. It was a beautiful and powerful way to honor Shane, albeit incredibly difficult. Pumping milk with no baby present to feed is so, so, so hard. It’s getting up in the middle of the night, not to tiny cries of hunger, but to the shrill alarm clock. It’s starting to dry up because there are no baby snuggles and sweet baby smells to release your body’s oxytocin to increase your milk supply. It’s not “nursing” or “breastfeeding”; it’s “pumping,” and the distinction is incredibly different. The painful reminder of his absence is your body diligently preparing nourishment for a baby you no longer hold. But I figured life was going to hurt no matter what, and Shane would be so proud to be able to help others, so why not try to find the greater good. I pumped every day and night for the little babies and knew if we were ever fortunate enough to have another baby of our own in the future, I promised myself that I would pump and donate again.
So here we are with a beautiful blessing of a baby boy. Gabriel O’Donnell Tremper has given us light and hope and the chance to continue to help others by giving me milk to feed him and other little babies. We hope it sends not only nourishment, but strength, bravery, and love to those little ones, in honor and memory of our brave little one, Baby Shane.
Screening to become a breast milk donor is done through an easy four-step process. Once accepted for donation, milk can be shipped for free door-to-door or through one of our donor milk depots throughout the Northeast.