I’ve heard that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. And I certainly feel this at Christmastime when my husband and I give our little girls gifts. When they come running into our room on Christmas morning and beg to get into those gifts under our Snoopy decorated tree, our hearts smile so big it reaches our lips and still-closed-tight eyes. But sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can give in other parts of the year.
To close out the month of July – my month of goodnesses – I had to share a story. A personal story about someone else’s little girl. A story about giving something that even in my pain that brought my heart so much joy – and still does.
This story is primarily about a little girl named Zoë.
Before Zoë was born, she was diagnosed with 2 holes in her heart – one in the top and one in the bottom chamber. Zoë’s sweet mom met me sitting in the waiting room of one of our doctors. It’s amazing who you can meet in a waiting room while you’re pregnant. You spend a lot of time in those places. Might as well make it pleasant, right?
Another ironic connection – we also had the same specialist – you know, that super awesome ultrasound-whenever-you-want doctor I had.
The doctors had informed Zoë’s mom, that she’d have some difficulties, but it would take a few weeks to show up – maybe even as many as six. They gave her some signs to watch for – like nursing troubles and acting extra lethargic. Once those showed up, though, almost immediately after Zoë’s birth, her mom brought her in to see the doctor.
They did an ultrasound on her heart and discovered that her aorta was quickly closing – and she wasn’t getting circulation to the bottom half of her body. She was sent to Charleston (three hours away from her home) for emergency heart surgery that very day.
After the surgery and recovery period – and maybe quite a bit of stress, wouldn’t you say? Zoë’s mother was no longer able to nurse little Zoë. The doctors quickly started her on formulas, but because of surgery complications, she developed an ulcer and was unable to tolerate the formula. After trying several kinds, Zoë’s mother was faced with a dilemma that I fear greatly – not being able to feed my children. She had no more milk to give her daughter, but the formulas she tried (and she tried almost all of them!) wouldn’t work either.
I guess that’s where I came in. I heard about little Zoë. And I knew about the 80 ounces or so of milk I had pumped the hours and days after Kyle’s birth. And I knew in my heart that a lot of it was meant for just her. That milk wouldn’t feed her for long. Just a few days, really. Thankfully, Zoe’s mother was willing to drive even hours away to get her daughter the donated milk she needed from week to week. (And still does!) I understood that determination to do whatever your child needed. I was so happy to have a small part in helping her achieve her goal.
So little Zoë and her mom came out to meet me, and as I packed up Kyle’s milk in her cooler…one of the last things I was holding onto from his birth, my tears flowed. But so many of them were happy tears. Here was my little guy – in a way, living on in someone else. My smile started reaching its way up through my heart, and to my lips…and even kept a few of those tears from falling down to my tshirt.
And I truly was blessed in such a big way.
Thanks, Zoë, for drinking up. Grow big and strong. We’re so happy you’re a miracle baby still here with us all.
For more information on donating breastmilk, see the Austin Milk Bank (used primarily in the Greenville Hospital’s NICU to feed preemies whose mother’s milk never comes in) and the Human Milk Bank Association of North America.