Never in my life have I ever experienced such a confusing juxtaposition of emotions as I did the day my daughter was born. There I was, falling in love by the second — happier and more alive than I had ever been as I held this little girl who would be mine. And right next to us, laying on a bed and recovering from labor, was her other mother — also in love, but experiencing the very different emotion of saying goodbye.
Her reasons for not being able to keep this little girl were her own, and are not mine to share. But let there never be any question that she loved our daughter with a ferocity that only a mother could know. And choosing me to raise her, instead of bringing her home herself, produced a grief in her that stood in stark contrast to my own joy and gratitude.
We were two women, experiencing motherhood in two very different ways.
So when she offered to breastfeed our little girl that first day of life, I was practically reduced to tears. Here was this woman who had already given so much, now offering to give even more of herself so that the baby in my arms could have one more thing I would never be able to give her — not just life, but also breast milk.
It was incredibly humbling, and a gift I remain forever grateful for all these years later.
Perhaps that’s why I found myself catching my breath a little when I recently stumbled upon a blog post by writer Lauren Casper on TODAY. Lauren wrote about the adoption of her own daughter, Arsema, and about how the timing of that adoption aligned with one of her friends experiencing a deep and terrible loss.
You see, Lauren and her friend Sarah Rieke were planning on entering this next stage of motherhood together. Lauren had even been secretly hoping Sarah would find out she was carrying a girl, so that their daughters could grow up to be the friends the two women had been for years. But on the day of Sarah’s 20 week ultrasound, it was revealed that while she was carrying a little girl, there were complications that would prevent her daughter, Evie, from living very long outside the womb.
“I prepared my nursery for the homecoming of my daughter and Sarah planned a funeral,” wrote Lauren.
My heart clenched just reading those words.
And when she then went on to share how Sarah offered to donate her breast milk to Lauren’s soon-to-be adopted little girl, I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading. How could a woman who was going through such a painful loss be so selfless in that moment? How could she be thinking of her friend and her baby, while knowing her own daughter would die within hours of being placed in her arms?
If you ask Sarah, she’ll tell you she didn’t do anything special. “I’m not a saint,” she wrote in a recent Instagram post. “At the time I didn’t feel like what I did was especially special. It just felt like a solid, logical conclusion to donate that ‘liquid gold’ to my friend’s brand new baby who had never been fed breast milk. It was a privilege, really, to do that for my dear friend and her precious daughter and to think about them and pray for their family as I pumped.”
And once more, I was awed.
Sarah also mentioned that there was so much more to her friendship with Lauren than just breast milk, and I knew there had to be, for these two women to have been through such a confusing juxtaposition of emotions together, only to come out the other side with such a sincere love and respect for one another.
Speaking with Babble, Lauren explains that she and Sarah had been friends for years before the births of Evie and Arsema. Lauren had actually lost two babies herself years earlier, which gave her a unique ability to understand what Sarah might need from her. “Sometimes she really wanted to be with and hold my daughter and other times it was hard for her and I made sure she knew that I understood and it was always okay with me if she needed space or needed my presence,” she explains. “This just brought us closer together.”
It’s been a few years now since Sarah gave Lauren and Arsema the breast milk her body had made for Evie. Since then, she gave birth to a baby girl, Joci. The friends have also been through more ups and downs together, with Arsema needing several surgeries and Sarah losing another baby, Charlie, last October. But through it all, their friendship and their love and respect for one another has endured.
“Maybe there aren’t a lot of people who would have made that choice after losing their daughter,” Sarah shared on Instagram. “But if roles were reversed, there’s not a doubt in my mind Lauren would have offered the same to me.”
After learning more about the amazing friendship these two share, there’s not a doubt in my mind, either.More On