Updated: Apr 22, 2022
The first Sunday in May is International Bereaved Mother's Day. It is a day dedicated to honoring mothers who have lost a child. It's also a day to recognize women who cannot be a mother due to infertility or other health reasons.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Courtney, a milk donor, who made the selfless decision to become a donor after the loss of her daughter, Elowyn. In honor of International Bereaved Mother's Day, it is my privilege to share Courtney's story with you. Elowyn's legacy is forever imprinted on my heart.
What would you like readers to know about your daughter? That she was a person. She was not just "something" I lost - she was someone I loved dearly. She may have only had a heartbeat for 7 months, but in that time, she accomplished more than I think I have in my 33 years of life.
From the moment she was conceived, she became the catalyst of our entire family. She was my only daughter, my parents only granddaughter, and my grandparents only great granddaughter. She was a healer and rebuilt our marriage when it stood on the verge of collapse. She was solely responsible for reuniting members of our family who had been separated by land borders for more than half a decade - and we are together now because of her. She was a missionary, and an evangelist who inspired our entire family to embrace our faith more fully, and even played an instrumental role in bringing her uncle into baptism. Our society often downplays and undervalues just how precious unborn life really is, but she taught us that each and every child has a vital and irreplaceable purpose - regardless of which side of the womb they may live. Dr. Seuss said it best - "A person's a person, no matter how small." What led you to decide to donate breastmilk after your loss? I realized the only way I could make peace with my daughter's death, was to find a way to honor her life. When my milk came in the morning after Elowyn was born, my doctor offered me solutions to dry it up, but I declined. My breastmilk was the only physical connection I had left to my daughter, and I didn't want to let it go to waste. By becoming a breastmilk donor, my precious daughter Elowyn Rose continues to live on in Spirit through the many little lives. The milk she left behind for me to donate has already provided more than 1,000 meals for some of America's most fragile and vulnerable newborns. I cannot think of a better way to honor my daughter's memory, and I am forever grateful to be a part of this amazing community.
What are your hopes for your daughter’s legacy? First and foremost, I hope that the milk my daughter left behind will go on to help many fragile and struggling babies to survive and to thrive, so that another anxious mother need not experience the loss that I have suffered. By this, I hope that Elowyn's story can become a legacy of hope to inspire other grieving families. Every life, no matter how short, is precious and meaningful. I believe everybody has a purpose on this Earth, and Elowyn fulfilled her purpose by bringing people together, and bringing out the best in them while she was alive. Even in her loss, she continues to bless others with the milk I am donating on her behalf, and it is my hope to honor her memory by inspiring others to do the same.
Read more of Courtney's story and her words of wisdom for others in Part II.