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My Friend Fed My Daughter When She Couldn’t Feed Hers

I remember feeling the weight of deep sadness and enormous gratitude all at once.
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I still remember the day my friend Sarah asked me timidly if I would like to have breastmilk for my daughter.

Her expressions, body language, and voice all told me that she had thought about this for a long time and that it was brave of her to ask me.

And I remember feeling the weight of deep sadness and enormous gratitude all at once.

You see, Sarah wasn’t going to be able to use her breastmilk because the baby girl she was carrying wasn’t expected to live very long after birth.

It was July, and we had just sent in all the paperwork to adopt our daughter Arsema a few weeks earlier. I began nesting as we waited for our dates to travel to Ethiopia.

This particular morning I was replacing the floor in our master bathroom while I waited for Sarah’s text.

She was going in for her 20-week ultrasound, and I secretly hoped the news would come back that she was having a girl.

I dreamed about our daughters being great friends like their big brothers. The text came… girl… but there were complications.

Within the next several hours, we knew that the baby girl Sarah was carrying would not be able to live outside of the womb.

I prepared my nursery for the homecoming of my daughter, and Sarah planned a funeral. We spent a lot of mornings together, crying and talking and even laughing at times.

She threw me a baby shower and gave me two blankets out of a packet of four. The other two would be wrapped around her daughter after she was born.

I brought Arsema home in early October, and a couple of weeks later, Sarah asked me the question…

“I was wondering if you would like my breast milk after Evie is born. I thought maybe you could use it to feed Arsema. I don’t know how long I’ll pump or how much I’ll be able to produce, but I’d love to give it to you if you want it.” 

We both cried. This was a gift that meant so much to both of us. Sarah longed to do something meaningful; in a way, her feeding my daughter helped heal a tiny piece of her broken heart. 

She knew one of the painful losses of infertility and adoption was my inability to breastfeed my children.

They each had such a rough start in life, and I wish I could have been able to at least give them that. I am incredibly grateful for the existence of infant formula because without it neither of my children would be alive and thriving today.

We do know, however, that breastmilk is best for babies. I think most mothers who aren’t able to give that to their children (for any number of reasons) feel a sense of loss even while being incredibly grateful for the option of formula.

Evie Caris was born in November and lived for four hours surrounded by the people who love her most. We kissed her face, took every inch of her beauty, and then Sarah sang her into heaven.

A week later, Sarah came to my house carrying a cooler filled with small plastic milk bags. For a few months, she continued to drop off breastmilk for my daughter every week.

Whenever I filled Arsema’s bottle and sat in the rocker to feed her, I would think about Sarah and Evie.

I would pray for Sarah’s broken heart and thank God for the gift Sarah had so selflessly given my daughter and me.

Next week, we will take our daughter in for her 5th surgery in 3 years. She was just twelve months old when she went in for her first.  

Arsema hasn’t had the most leisurely ride throughout her young life, and amid doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and hospital visits, I believe Sarah’s milk made a difference.

Even though I will never know the full impact it had on Arsema’s health and well-being.

I wish I could have breastfed my children. Sarah wishes she could have fed her daughter (and so do I… oh so do I.) But life doesn’t always make sense.

We must create beauty from the pieces when everything is broken and mixed up.

Sarah feeding my daughter when she couldn’t feed hers is a beautiful example of love, generosity, and grace amid heart-wrenching loss.

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Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper is a best-selling author and activist who exposes fraudulent businesses through in-depth investigations. When not fighting scams and reviewing, she enjoys being a wife, mom, and amateur baker.

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