California mom Ariel Matthews was devastated to have a miscarriage on Christmas Day back in 2015. So of course, she was completely overjoyed to find out she was pregnant just one month later, and would be able to give her 3-year-old son Noah a sibling after all.
Heartbreakingly, this third baby was born with a terrible heart defect and passed away in October 2016, just 11 days after birth.
Despite the horrendous grief that Matthews was experiencing after these two major losses, she decided to do something inspiring in her late children's memories. So she saved her breast milk that she had pumped, back when she first heard about the third child's dire condition.
"When my breast milk came in I was pumping a whole lot. I decided right away to donate it, because I knew he wasn’t going to make it," Matthews said.
And donate she did. The 25-year-old had already donated 1,000 ounces of breast milk after her miscarriage of her second baby. So after the loss of the third baby, she set a goal to donate even more milk than she did for the second.
Then, her dad gave her the genius idea of donating her weight in breast milk--which would mean donating 2,370 ounces, or 148 pounds in total.
Though it seemed daunting at first, the brave mom was up for the task, and after several weeks had passed, she smashed her goal.
I am officially done pumping. 2,370 ounces total, which is about 18.5 gallons in milk. After I pumped 1000oz I decided to keep going and set another goal, which was to pump my body weight in breast milk. I got the idea from my dad. Well, I succeeded! All those ounces come out to about 148.1 lbs., which is more than I weigh, thankfully. Thanks to my sweet Ronan I was able to bless three babies with milk. After I empty out my freezer, 2,300 of those ounces will have been officially donated. I defiantly feel lucky to have been able to help babies stay healthy, and grow. With my two boys in heaven I have donated a total of 2,810 ounces. I know I donated with Noah as well, but cannot remember the exact amount. I believe it was around another 100oz. 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. 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. #donated #babyboy #love #breastmilk #beauty #rainbowbaby #missed #infantloss #blessed #mommy #boymom
Even better? Matthews found out firsthand that she was able to help three other moms with her overall donation of 2,801 ounces--two moms whose breast milk never came in and a mom who adopted a foster baby.
Matthews said, "It felt really good to donate it all, especially because I would get hugs from the moms when they came to pick it up and thank yous. And that the moms were trusting me to give their babies my milk—it feels really good."
Some of the moms even sent her photos of the babies after they finished the milk, all full and happy, which made Matthews happy too.
Then, in a heart-wrenching Instagram post, Matthews remembered her precious 11 days she got to spend with her late third child.
She wrote, "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."
What a stunning way to honor his memory!