When Wendy Cruz-Chan’s baby boy Killian was stillborn three months ago, Wendy knew immediately that she wanted to do something special to commemorate her sweet baby’s life.
Three days after the birth, when Wendy’s breasts became engorged with milk, she immediately knew what that was. As Wendy tells Babble, her thoughts went to the moms she knew through her work as a doula, who often needed extra breastmilk. And that’s when she began pumping. And pumping … and pumping.
“I wanted to give the milk that was meant for my son to other babies so that part of him and me would live on in [them],” explains Wendy.
In the end, she wound up pumping for three whole months, for six different babies. And just as it is for all women who pump, it was round the clock work — sometimes even in the middle of the night. When she finally hit the three-month mark, Wendy decided to stop pumping so she could concentrate on getting her body ready for her next pregnancy.
But by then she had pumped and donated a staggering 2,038 ounces of breastmilk.
Earlier this week, Wendy shared her story on Facebook — and no surprise it’s going viral, with 20K likes and 4K shares after just two days of posting. And with good reason: Wendy’s story is beautiful and selfless, but it’s also a story of healing after a loss, which more mothers than you might realize can relate to.
That’s precisely why she wanted to share her story. Wendy shares with Babble that after she lost her son, she turned to the Internet for support from other moms with similar stories who could relate. That process, she says, was incredibly powerful and incredibly healing.
In sharing her story, she hopes to show other grieving mothers that it’s possible to find a positive perspective in even the most heartbreaking circumstances.
“I’m the type of person who tries to see the positive in things,” Wendy tells Babble, “It took me a lot strength to be where I am today.”
Wendy credits her 5-year-old daughter Ariya with giving her that perspective. She tells Babble that she didn’t want her daughter to see her as the type of person who gives into grief and forgets to live. Pumping for other moms and sharing her milk helped her feel that she could in fact do something — anything — to go on after her tragic loss.
“Pumping has helped me put my grief into concentrating on the moms who need my help,” Wendy explains, recounting that while she was pumping, she would look at photos of the babies she was pumping for. Watching them grow and thrive on her milk is what inspired her to keep going.
Wendy admits she’s been surprised by how quickly her story has caught on. In the days since she first posted, she’s received a flood of messages and friend requests, and says that the whole experience has left her feeling “overwhelmed, shocked, and caught off guard.” But she’s also been extremely moved by the positive comments she’s gotten and the number of moms coming forward who’ve also experienced loss and wanted to thank her for sharing her own story of healing.
Besides finishing up her pumping journey and hoping to conceive another baby in the near future, Wendy’s next goal is to campaign for New York Methodist Hospital, where she gave birth to Killian, to start providing CuddleCots to families of stillborn babies.
A CuddleCot is a specially formatted bassinet that provides a cooling environment to a stillborn baby, allowing parents to spend more time with their babies before the baby’s body begins to deteriorate.
Wendy explained that she only got two hours with Killian before he was taken away, and that she wished she had more time to hold him, take photos, and say goodbye at her own pace.
She adds that besides helping moms in need through milk donation, she couldn’t have gotten through the last three months without the support of her husband John, who encouraged her to donate her milk in the first place — and who cleaned out her pump parts to boot!
She still thinks of Killian every day, and hopes that by sharing her milk and her story, his memory will live on.
If you would like to support Wendy’s campaign, and bring CuddleCots to New York Methodist Hospital in loving memory of Killian, learn more about the campaign and donate here.More On