Meet the Family: Steph and Amara

Baby Amara is a miracle in more ways than one. Her mother, Steph, was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was 22. After ten years of treatment, she finally had a clear scan, and immediately knew she wanted to be a mom. After years of fertility treatment, her dream came true: she was pregnant. Unfortunately, the joy she was experiencing was overshadowed by fear.

As Steph got further along in her pregnancy, she was hospitalized for preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening complication that was causing extra stress on Steph’s liver. Her doctor ordered an ultrasound. But instead of feeling relief that her baby was healthy, Steph received terrifying news: Amara had only developed one kidney.

While Steph was in the hospital, her care team’s goal was to get Amara as close to full term as possible, a challenging feat given Steph’s condition. After a blood draw was too painful for her to tolerate, and doctors worried her liver was failing, Steph was rushed in for an emergency C-Section. It was time for Amara to make her grand entrance.

Amara was born ten weeks early with jaundice, a club foot, and only one working kidney. They immediately admitted her to the NICU and started genetic testing to find out what caused her condition. In the meantime, Steph was struggling to establish her milk supply. The medications she had to take made it impossible to produce enough to feed her baby. On top of that, specialty formulas for babies with kidney issues were unavailable because of the nationwide formula shortage.

“I didn’t know how she would eat,” Steph said.

But luckily, her care team had a solution: they started feeding Amara donor human milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank. Receiving the gift of human milk for her baby gave Steph a sense of relief that Amara would have a better chance at survival.

When it was time to leave, Steph worried about feeding Amara at home. She knew she had access to donor milk in the hospital but wasn’t sure if she could get it at home. She asked her doctor how she would feed her baby, and he gave her the good news: because of our community of supporters, Mothers’ Milk Bank could provide Steph with the precious milk Amara needed to thrive. Finally, after months of pregnancy, delivery, and NICU stress, Steph felt relieved. She could now focus on settling into motherhood.

Donor human milk is a critical source of nutrition for premature and sick babies like Amara. Its life-saving properties make donor human milk the first choice for babies when their parents’ own milk is unavailable. At Mothers’ Milk Bank we rely on generous milk donations from new parents looking to help other families. Selfless milk donors and financial supporters help us provide critical nourishment to thousands of babies every year.

“The donors made a huge difference for me, and I am so grateful,” Steph shares. Thanks in part to their generosity and selflessness, Amara is happily back home and thriving. As Steph lovingly says, “She is the rest of me.”