On the back of World mental health day yesterday, and as this week (October 9-15) is Baby Loss Awareness Week, we are honoured that Abigail has chosen to share her story with us.
This one comes with a trigger warning, as it discusses baby loss.
And if you do read on, make sure you have tissues close to hand!
Thank you to Abigail and Francis for sharing, you are truly inspirational.
When I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to “at least try breastfeeding, but I wasn’t going to get hung up over it if I couldn’t do it”. But as soon as my baby, Francis was born in June 2019 I became obsessed with all things breastfeeding. I think it was due to all the amazing support I had from the hospital, Breastfeeding Together and family that got me through those tricky first few weeks and made breastfeeding such an amazing experience. I would breastfeed anywhere and everywhere, and I loved every second of it. Francis was born with a Congenital Heart Defect, and I knew that breastfeeding was giving him the best possible chance in life. However, at just 6 months old my baby boy suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in my arms due to his heart condition.
Within only a few hours I was full again, ready to feed him. I told my son’s consultant who had come to speak with us, sent for a Midwife who appeared with a breast pump. I’d never used a pump before, but she showed me how to put it together and I was able to express. She told me how to slow my supply over the next two weeks and offered me medication to help. But I asked her if it was possible to donate my milk. I’d seen something about it on instagram a few weeks before but I wasn’t even possible if it was something that happened in this country, let alone in Wigan. She went away and got a phone number for the North West Milk Bank who my mum called once we were home. She recommended only doing it until my milk dried up, but I felt like this was a new calling for me.
Particularly in those early dark days, expressing milk was the only thing that gave my life any meaning. I had to eat for the milk. I had to drink for the milk. I had to get out of bed for the milk. I couldn’t turn to drink and drugs as so many people in that situation do because of the milk. I donated to the North West Human Milk Bank until Francis was 9 months old (and then slightly longer to help with COVID milk supplies) and since then I have donated to three other babies through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. Getting to see these babies grow up is such a privilege for me and my husband and is helping to keep Francis’ legacy alive. These children will grow up knowing about Francis, and as Francis’ Mummy and Daddy that is all we can ask. Today (10/10/2020) marks 16 months of breastfeeding. From feeding Francis nearly 12 hours per day in December I am now expressing just twice, once in the morning and once at night. Like I have with every other feed, I will continue to listen to my body and cut down as and when I feel ready.
I can’t thank everyone involved in our feeding journey enough. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that breastfeeding has saved my life.