Finding strength through grief: Melanie’s story

May 5, 2023

The loss of a child is incredibly difficult. For some mothers who carry their babies in their hearts, rather than their arms, giving back to other infants in need with the gift of donor milk can help with the grieving process. Melanie shares first-hand her journey of becoming a milk bank donor, finding strength through grief and leaving a legacy for her baby, Luke.

“I heard about milk donation when I first found out I was pregnant. I told myself, if I was able to produce enough breast milk for my baby and still have extra, then I would absolutely donate. It seemed like an obvious choice, given the families in need being helped. When it was brought up to me after my son Luke had passed, I knew I wanted to try pumping for donation. If the circumstances were any different, I would have donated breast milk anyways. When I heard about the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk bank, it all clicked.

Considering this was my first pregnancy, I didn’t understand how much my body would change after giving birth. I really wasn’t even thinking about milk production after Luke’s passing. When my midwife brought it up, I thought, if there’s any way I could use the gift of breast milk that my body is providing, then I would absolutely love to. It has definitely helped bridge the gap in the grieving process. There are times when it has been difficult. There have been many times when I have felt that I would rather be feeding my baby than pumping, but donating to the Milk Bank has helped me process my grief, and being able to help as many babies as I can is so fulfilling.

When we were sorting through arrangements for Luke, our funeral director made a comment that it is easier for her to do her job, as hard as it is, because she knows she’s helping someone and their family in their time of need. I thought of that and how being able to pump and help babies in need just like Luke helps alleviate my pain and give more purpose to it. Coming from a place of this perspective, I think it is important for other bereaved mothers to know that they are not alone, and that there are so many gifts from their pregnancy to give. I’m grateful that I can still share the gifts that motherhood has given me and other babies get to benefit from it. That is something that has been very healing.

My goal is to pump for three months – that’s the goal I’ve set for myself. Life changes and things change, so if my production slows down by three months, then that’s fine. If it’s something I’m able to continue with, then I will.

Luke left me with a very wonderful ability – the ability to produce breast milk. It is a joy to be able to give something so important to those in need. I didn’t think I would be in this position where I’m having more good days than bad and taking things well, because there is purpose for me. I felt so good after my first donation. It was one of the first good days that I had in a while.”

We are grateful to Melanie that Luke’s life was able to make a positive impact in the lives of hospitalized babies in Ontario. Melanie has donated 15.9 litres of breast milk and is continuing to pump for her next donation. Thank you to Melanie for donating in honour of baby Luke.

The Milk Bank welcomes donors who have suffered an infant loss. If you feel that this might be right for you, please click here for more information.