Good friends and bloggers Lauren Casper and Sarah Rieke were expecting to grow their families at the same time. Casper and her husband had just finished the paperwork to finalize the adoption of their daughter, Arsema, from Ethiopia, while Sarah was entering her 20th week of pregnancy.
One day, as Lauren was waiting for a text from Sarah to find out how her latest ultrasound had gone, she got the startling news.
"I was secretly hoping for the news to come back that she was having a girl. I was dreaming about our daughters being great friends, just like their big brothers are. The text came… girl… but there were complications," wrote Lauren in a TODAY blog post.
Later that day, Sarah shared even more heartbreaking news: The baby girl she was carrying would not be able to live outside of the womb. Devastated, the two moms stayed by each other's side through the next emotional months.
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"I prepared my nursery for the homecoming of my daughter, and Sarah planned a funeral," wrote Lauren. "We spent a lot of mornings together crying and talking and even laughing at times. She threw me a baby shower and gave me two blankets out of a packet of four… the other two would be wrapped around her daughter after she was born."
In early October of 2015, as Lauren brought home her adopted baby, her still-pregnant and grieving friend came to her with a question.
“'I was wondering if you would like to have my breastmilk after Evie is born. I thought maybe you could use it to feed Arsema. I don’t know how long I’ll pump or how much I’ll be able to produce, but I’d love to give it to you if you want it,'” Lauren remembered Sarah saying. "I remember feeling the weight of deep sadness and enormous gratitude all at once."
A month later, Sarah gave birth to her baby girl, Evie, who lived for only four precious hours surrounded by family. A week later, Sarah brought a cooler filled with plastic bags of her breastmilk--and she would continue to do so for many more weeks.
"Each time I filled Arsema’s bottle and sat in the rocker to feed her I would think about Sarah and Evie. I would pray for Sarah’s broken heart and thank God for the gift Sarah had so selflessly given me and my daughter," wrote Lauren, who was especially touched by her friend's gift because it had always made her sad that she couldn't breastfeed her adopted children.
"This was a gift that meant so much to both of us. Sarah was longing to do something meaningful and in a way her feeding my daughter helped heal a tiny piece of her broken heart."
Talk about a beautiful example of love, generosity, and grace in the midst of heart-wrenching loss.
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