Today I thought I would try to explain how and why we are doing Erin's Gift.
For me the beginning of Erin's Gift was when we were packing up our things from Ronald McDonald House and getting ready to return home without our little girl. As I was emptying the little freezer we had been allocated I came across about 4 bottles of expressed breastmilk. Throughout my pregnancy I had felt very passionately about breastfeeding and had done a lot of research. I understood that it is not an option for all women and one of my biggest concerns was that I may have difficulties breastfeeding Erin. With the wonderful support of the nurses on the ward I had expressed for Erin throughout her life, hoping that she would be able to receive the milk through a tube during her recovery and eventually would be able to breastfeed. I had stored up about 70 bottles of milk and the ICU were running out of storage room in their freezer, so I had begun to store it in ours. As I looked at those bottles of milk I felt extreme sadness that my little Erin was never going to get to use it. Then I remembered something from a documentary I had seen about donating breastmilk. I took the bottles up to the ICU and asked the nurse whether this would be possible.
Several days later I received a telephone call from the milk bank to say that Alder Hey had contacted them about my milk. They posted me a kit to take to my GP to get my blood tested and confirmed that if my results came back clear, my milk could be donated. Thankfully the tests were fine and the breastmilk that I had so lovingly expressed for Erin could now be given to other poorly babies in hospital.
When I learned that the milk I thought of as Erin's was going to help other babies I felt a glimmer of hope through my sadness. It felt like this milk was Erin's gift to other sick babies. As recent stories in the press have shown, milk donation literally helps save the lives of premature babies (http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/real-life/2012/02/09/premature-baby-girl-survived-after-hospital-s-breast-bank-came-to-the-rescue-86908-23741987/).
This made me think that we could do other things in Erin's memory to help the kind people who had supported us so much through this; the most awful time of our lives. I now feel as though the fundraising I do and the time and effort I give to it is a tribute to my precious daughter and my gift to her. Furthermore, the funds and awareness that we are hopefully able to raise, done in the name of Erin, are her gift to those that need it. Essentially, Erin's Gift is our way of honouring our beautiful daughter who gave us so much in her short life. It is also a way to say thank you to the generous organisations who helped us and help them to support others.
Milk banks are always trying to recruite women who would be willing to donate their surplus breastmilk or regularly express milk for them. If you are interested in breastmilk donation you can read more about it here http://www.ukamb.org/donor.html