Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas works closely with many bereaved mothers, who choose to donate breastmilk after the loss of a baby. A memorial, known at the milk bank as Carmen’s Tree, displays the names and birthdates of babies whose mothers donated milk after their passing.
For many, milk donation becomes a crucial part of the grieving process. One such mom, Tara Li, suffered the immense loss of two children. Here, she bravely and eloquently commemorates her son, Gunner, and reveals how she has survived great sorrow.
Gunner Timothy was born May 13, 2013. He lived a beautiful 55 minutes. I love the quote “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.” During his 55 minutes, he did not take many breaths, but he still to this day, takes my breath away.
Gunner is our second loss. We found the best way to heal from the loss of our daughter in 2011 was to start helping others in her memory… in her honor. When we learned our Gunner was not going to be born healthy and strong, we became completely broken. How were we going to be able to endure this pain again?
We have met some pretty incredible families from the loss of our children and it was a hopeful feeling knowing we were not alone. We learned of breastmilk donation from one of those families. We decided that was how we would honor his life. His milk would go to help other newborns/infants/children sustain their lives. My mother and I made a trip to the milk bank and were greeted by Simone. She made us feel so welcome and special.
We toured the facility and saw how everything worked. We saw Carmen’s Tree and my heart wept for the amount of leaves that were there, but also smiled at the sacrifices that were made. And I thought if they can do it…so can I.
Pumping milk is definitely not an easy thing, especially after a loss. My family, friends and my employers were so very supportive of my decision to donate and did not hesitate to make it as comfortable as possible. Because of Gunner, a total of 886 ounces of milk was donated over a 3- month period. We saved a very small bag. It is in our freezer still, and it reminds us of our Gunner and what a beautiful thing he helped us do.
For Gunner’s first birthday this past May, we decided to have a fundraiser for Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. We sold milk bank t-shirts and raised just over $2000. To bring the fundraiser to a close, we hosted Gunner’s Milk and Cookie Celebration at our home. Friends and family joined us in celebrating Gunner and how his life changed so many. I have friends all the time tell me…”I got to tell someone your story today when they asked me about the milk bank shirt I was wearing.”
Someone gets to meet my son through the words of a friend and becomes educated on how we helped others through your organization. We are so honored to have Gunner’s name on a leaf on Carmen’s Tree. It reminds me of Psalm 1:3. ”He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our son’s life with you.
The Li Family
Jeff, Tara, Ethan, Athanasia and Gunner
For more information about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, click here.
For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, visit our website.