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Life gave Rubén's parents the opportunity to carry a pregnancy to term. The joy of childbirth, of hugging her child outside of the belly, was joined by the uneasiness of death in the Neonatal ICU. Death took their son, but these parents decided to pay him the best of tributes: Olaya would become a donor of the milk of Rubén, his deceased son. Food and comfort for your soul, and for others who might need it. This is the story about breastfeeding when the baby has died.
Rubén was born with 42 weeks of gestation, he was a perfect baby of 4,825 grams of love, 52 cm of passion, plump, adorable, precious, caring, dear, expected to term. Our rainbow baby gave us a chance to dream, project and live my pregnancy in a very conscious way.
I was very prepared or, I believed, for chaos, for Rubén to dismantle my pillars and rebuild them together according to his needs and concerns. As a "read mother," she thought she had tools and places to turn to in all possible adverse situations that might occur. How delusional!
I prepared my birth plan, among many other things, but I did not think at all about meeting death, although I knew it could happen, although with each dawn I thanked him for feeling Rubén by my side, one more day with him, one less day to put a face to this complicity that we created together. One less day to hug him with my arms instead of my belly.
Although I thought I had one foot on the ground, I never really thought that such an injustice of life would touch me once again, but my rainbow became a star. I had to live the unwanted experience, an experience that should not exist.
Death surprised us. From that one I did not know if there would be protocols in hospitals, where the nightmare could be even greater or a pleasant experience within the harshness and pain that the death of a loved one entails. I didn't know anything, I was just one more thananophobic and, as such, I didn't even think about what her handling of death would be, what our goodbye would be like forever. "There would be time," you think, but the truth is that there isn't. Death tells you that time is up, time is fleeting, it's over!
With my birth plan, I wanted to give my son the best welcome to life. He did not think that both welcomes and goodbyes were of equal importance. Now I know and I share it with whoever reads these lines.
I knew about humanized caesarean sections and how to be flexible if it happened so as not to endanger my child's food, but nothing about whether or not I could dress him once he died, if I could spend time with him, bathe him, prepare him for his funeral, nor that they existed options such as the hospital or the parents taking over the body.
Today I dream of creating a complete birth plan, and with the day when death is talked about without much thought. Where it is not so difficult to read this information or find it. Death took my son and many dreams, family projects, life destroyed ... practically everything destroyed ...!
But there was a dream that he couldn't get rid of. Rubén and I were going to be milk donors. And in honor of him, his entire life, short or long for many, but at the end of the day his entire life on earth. What started out as an altruistic and honorable act became a ritual of farewell.
Thanks to Rubén and his existence, his colostrum loaded with hope began to flow from my breasts, food for my soul, comfort, empowerment; It also validated my motherhood, the two of us somehow remained connected, we made fun of death, after all, my body worked perfectly. Thus began my duel, in the most human and primitive way possible. Continuing with the physiological process that follows childbirth, breastfeeding.
My donation was not so quick and it took effort for the babies who did need it back then to enjoy it. I kept breastfeeding for up to a week after finishing the antibiotics. It was then that I started saving the milk for the milk bank.
After taking several coolers to the milk bank on behalf of Rubén, little by little, despite my efforts to have more milk, I dried up and stopped donating, since the milk that came out no longer reached the jars. I had accomplished the goal of bringing a cooler to the milk bank on behalf of Rubén and it was time to move on to my next stage of grief.
Donating my son's milk was my first tool to walk, to keep me upright, alive and active. The best pill to appease my pain was incorporated as standard, thanks to the lactation hormones, oxytocin and prolactin acting as neuromodulators. In addition, prolactin lowered the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This does not mean that it hurts less or that it is a shortcut to your grief. The duel has no shortcuts, you have to live it.
This powerful and natural tool allowed me not only to honor my son, but also to say goodbye to that nursing mother I wanted to be, to dreams, family projects and life together, a life in which Rubén would bury us and not us him.
Much unexpected magic was born from that milk donation. The only nice news I received from the hospital was all about milk, the extractions kept me active, and I continued taking care of myself as I would have done for Rubén, for babies I did not know, nor would I ever know. I wanted them to be good people, who will love life, work, effort, a long, healthy and happy life.
And so several initiatives have arisen that I will tell you about, in case you need or seek support.
#Rubén movement for a social, shared, normalized duel, with love, empathy, respect and free from judgment.
#cadenadelaleche where all the mothers who have heard our story decide to get an extra drink for the milk bank and that Rubén and I love it.
#donantesconestrella, which emerged as a need to search for equals to me. This is a WhatsApp group where mothers who, after the death of our children, have decided to donate the milk of our little ones and find support and containment, and where any donor mother who needs us can enter.
Author: Olaya Rubio Vilchez # MovimientoRubén
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