Wendy Cruz-Chan pumped breastmilk day and night, but it wasn't for her own baby. She donated her liquid gold so six other babies would receive the amazing benefits from it.
She wasn't able to give it to her own son, Killian, because she lost him to stillbirth at 19 weeks.
Many women wouldn't be able to do that, but Wendy felt passionate about it and embarked on her three month journey. A journey she chose for herself, because it was her way of healing.
Turning pain into power:
Wendy, a doula residing in New York City, told Parent24: "There is such a high need for breastmilk in New York City and I wanted to do something in remembrance of Killian."
In her post she mentions what her motivation was to embark on such a personal, taxing, but fruitful journey. Even though she felt many strong emotions, she was grateful for the opportunity to help those babies and see them develop while consuming the milk she produced.
"There were definitely times when I felt really sad and cried a lot, but looking at those babies' faces while I pumped motivated me to keep going, because they depended on me. It gave me purpose for what I was doing."
Following her loss, she discovered she was group beta strep (GBS) positive – an infection which is relatively common in a number of women. The problem with GBS is that it can go undetected because one doesn't feel ill and there are no real symptoms.
Also read: Strep-B in your newborn baby
Learning to cope with the loss:
Wendy, her husband and her daughter received professional grieving therapy to help deal with the loss.
"I was able to explain to my daughter what had happened to her little brother and it helped us to grieve. I also accepted it wasn't my fault. My body did not fail me, my pregnancy did. With this realisation, I gained a sense of closure and I learnt that I did the best I could.
"Explaining the loss to my 5-year-old daughter was hard, but I have two children's books which explain pregnancy loss. I also received advice from the therapist. She understood and took it really well. At first she would get a little sad, but she’s always talking about him and makes sure, no matter what, she's still a big sister to an Angel," says Wendy.
Don't give up hope:
Wendy is now campaigning to bring awareness about stillbirth. Her goal is to highlight stillbirth and the trauma families suffer at the hands of it.
She says: "Women who have gone through a similar experience should talk about it. Don't be ashamed to get help and surround yourself with a great support system. Do not give up hope.
"Your past experience should not be your last resort. Do your research and find the best doctor. Find a way to keep your mind off of the negative, like speaking to mothers who have gone through the same experience, but who have successfully had a rainbow baby."
Drive to create awareness:
Coupled with her campaign to bring awareness about stillbirths, Wendy is also raising funds for hospitals to include what is known as a CuddleCot at their facilities. She's starting with New York Methodist Hospital, the facility where she gave birth to Killian. To help raise funds, donations can be made to You Caring, a crowdfunding initiative.
The device is essentially a chilled bassinet and it allows for families to spend more time with their stillborn baby, giving them time to grieve and deal with the trauma.
"I don't want other future stillbirth families to go through that traumatic experience of being separated from their baby like my husband and I was. I want families to get closure and more time to say goodbye to their baby," says Wendy.
Now that Wendy's reached her goal, she's bringing the focus back to herself. She wants to try falling pregnant again and says she's preparing her body for that.