Anticipating a new baby is a joy for any parent. It brings the thrill of choosing a name, decorating a nursery and of course, picking out clothes. However, what do you do when all of that suddenly comes to a halt because doctors tell you your baby has zero chance of survival?
That’s what happened to Lauren Turley and her husband Wayne. Already parents of a little girl, Madeline, the Turley family anxiously awaited the arrival of their newest addition, another girl they would name Catherine.
Sadly, Catherine didn’t live longer than an hour with her parents. Turley, who couldn’t bear the idea of disposing of her breast milk decided to become a bereavement donor.
She shared her story of becoming a bereavement donor with us.
We didn't know how long we would have with Catherine due to her Trisomy 18 diagnosis, but we had an hour with her. I knew I wanted to pump regardless of how long Catherine was here on Earth. I wanted the benefits of nursing so my body could heal properly.
I was able to pump for six weeks and donated I think, 300 plus ounces. I wish it could have been more and longer, but my body knew I wasn't feeding an infant- it wasn't really fooled with pumping.
Before Catherine's arrival, I assumed I would be too emotional to deal with the logistics of donating. However, once my milk came in I couldn't dump it. I had worked too hard for that milk--- both as my body prepared to give birth and to pump. I couldn't stand to watch it go down the drain. It felt like too much of a waste to me.
The Milk Bank made it incredibly easy to ship it from St. Louis, so we started to freeze Catherine's milk right away. It was therapeutic for me. My oldest, Madeline, helped me hook up each time. At the tender age of 22 months, she found ways to entertain me while I pumped like playing her little drum set and singing to me. Those were precious moments. After about six weeks, I could tell my supply had really dropped. I decided to stop pumping. It was sad. It was hard to end pumping because another chapter with Catherine ended prematurely. I enjoyed nursing our oldest.
I didn't even get to nurse Catherine and now pumping was over so quickly as well. Not that pumping itself is easy, but it was a connection with Catherine that was over. Another thing coming to an end and it was emotional.
I was so grateful to be able to provide at least some milk to another precious baby who needed it to stay strong and grow into a wonderful person!
Lastly, a staff member at The Milk Bank suggested I keep a bag of Catherine's milk. What a great idea! I was bummed I didn't do that for my oldest. We still have the little bag in our freezer. When we moved last year, it came with us. When I see it, I say a little prayer for the babies who Catherine and I fed. And not that I need a reminder of our Catherine, but when I see her bag of milk, it reminds me of all the good she is doing both through the milk donation and Catherine Cares.