*TW - Infant Loss*
We are sharing a special story today from a donor who bravely gave her milk after the devastating loss of her daughter shortly after birth. Thank you Tara-Rae for sharing Mackenzie Grace's story with us, and giving your precious milk to others.
"At 16 weeks gestation into our third pregnancy we were told that our baby was conceived with an abnormality that was considered incompatible with life. It was difficult to reconcile seeing our daughter‘s heartbeat, feeling her move, and watching my tummy grow. And being told our baby wouldn’t and couldn’t survive. We had to come to grips that our reality if her diagnosis held true our baby’s life would be much shorter than we would’ve imagined or hoped for and for any parent that is a devastating blow. Our dreams for a future were changed in that moment of our life, and our expectations of her life slipping away.
We decided that if our daughters death was pending we would not be the ones to set the date. So we gave her a name: Mackenzie Grace Beckley, and her journey on earth continued. In some ways people think it would have been easier to choose the other route, but the truth is terminating our daughter's life wouldn’t have spared us an ounce of sorrow or loss; it would have robbed us from the sweet and joyful memories that will forever mark our season with Mackenzie Grace.
Mackenzie Grace’s diagnosis was confirmed at 22 weeks gestation. Diagnosed with thanatophoric dysplasia which is a lethal form of short-limbed dwarfism. Her diagnosis was confirmed with amniocentesis. My husband and I decided to continue our pregnancy for as long as my body would allow so we could meet our bundle of joy even though it carried a great amount of anticipatory grief and sadness. Our pregnancy was filled with fear and unknowns, prenatal diagnoses, and grim statistics. The pain was and continues to be unimaginable. Due to her skeletal dysplasia, her chest did not get big enough to allow her lungs to grow to the size needed to support her outside of me. Mackenzie Grace was born on March 1, 2022 at 3:49 a.m. and grew her angel wings at 4:15 a.m. My husband and I were honoured to kiss her soft pink lips, nuzzle her cheeks, her nose, and tiny perfect ears; she left an imprint on our hearts and changed our lives forever. She was so beautiful and had the most perfect little fingers and toes and a head full of black hair. We miss her terribly.
During our process of making our birth and comfort care plan with our assist team I had inquired about donating my breast milk to help other babies. Our assist team with the Stollery had provided me with all the information I needed to reach out to NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank. They were in contact with me the following week and were so kind and helpful and took me step by step through the application and screening process.
On June 18, 2022 I walked into the Grey Nuns Hospital to deliver our precious gift. As I stood at the receptionist desk the emotions came over me. In a matter of minutes I had many nurses standing around me supporting me with tender care. Saying Mackenzie's name and telling me how proud they were that I considered this journey.
This journey did not come easy there were a lot of tears shed with every ounce of Mackenzie's milk I pumped. It’s not natural to go towards pain and often times we walk away from it, and many would have thought I was making this more painful. I’m incredibly proud of myself that I chose to fight through the pain. I'll forever be grateful I got to know Mackenzie by her gentle kicks against my belly.
My husband and I are amazed to see how much of an impact Mackenzie has had already on so many. She inspires us to be brave. We feel sharing her story gives her life. Her literal earthly life may have only been minutes, but the fullness of her story is being told to make a lasting imprint.
To the babies,
I'm so happy I considered donating this precious gift. Such a beautiful legacy to leave for our daughter. Our hope is that we inspire another family going through the impossible and to consider this journey. It never feels right having a baby live in your heart it has a special warmth but also a terrible ache. Knowing we are helping other families in need of this precious gift in Mackenzie’s name just gives me all the feels.
love & light