After suffering the loss of two babies, a mother in California has donated more than 175 pounds of breast milk to help other families.
A year ago, on Christmas Day, 25-year-old Ariel Matthews had a miscarriage. Filled with grief, she donated 1,000 oz of her breast milk to help other mothers who could use it. One month later she became pregnant again, and was excited about the prospect of having another child to play with her son 3-year-old son, Noah.
Sadly, her third child, Ronan, was born with a heart defect and died 11 days later. According to NY Magazine, after going through surgery to repair it, he never recovered and passed away.
After suffering two major losses in a row, Matthews was devastated. But in her grief she decided to do something in Ronan’s memory.
Matthews explains during an interview with People that she knew based on Ronan’s condition that he might not make it. Nonetheless, she began to pump.
“I decided right away to donate it, because I knew he wasn’t going to make it.”
She set a goal to donate more than the 1,000 ounces she had donated the previous year. But twenty days later, she smashed through the first milestone and documented it on Instagram.
Matthews decided to keep going and pump her weight in breast milk, an idea that was inspired by her dad.
In the span of several weeks, she donated a total of 2,370 ounces, or the equivalent of 148 pounds.
In total, she has given 2,810 ounces of breast milk. She was thrilled to learn that her donation was able to help three other families: two moms who never had their breast milk come in and one family who had adopted a baby. In an Instagram post, she writes:
“Not going to lie, it was a good feeling to be able to do this, and for mothers trusting me enough to use my milk.”
She then remembered all of the moments she had with Ronan while he was alive:
“Oh sweet Ronan how I miss you. There are days where I wish I could relive the NICU days just to see you alive and whole. I know that isn’t possible, so I will cherish your 11 days of life in my heart forever. You were such a blessing to carry in my womb, (no matter how much I complained) I will never wish I had not. There are many things I wish, for example sibling bonding, to kiss you, to snuggle, to watch you grow, and learn. Thankfully this isn’t forever, and I will see your beautiful face again.”
Recognizing the losses she endured over the past year, Matthews says she feels inspired by the future.
In another Instagram post, Matthews writes:
“I am thankful I got to protect Ronan in my womb till it was time for to come. I am thankful I was able to keep myself healthy with Crossfit for Ronan. I am thankful I got to spend 11 days with my precious Ronan. I am even more thankful that my story is spreading light for other women in situations like mine.”
Breast milk donations help premature and ill babies to receive the vital nutrients they need to grow. If you’re interested in learning more about breast milk donations, check out the National Milk Bank.