"I was 25 weeks pregnant," said Heidi Solomon. "I had a perfect pregnancy, never had as much as a little hitch, nothing; and I was driving to work and I went into sudden pre term labor."
Heidi was admitted to Ruby Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit. And on May 12, 2012, Jonah Henry Solomon was born.
"When he was born he was perfect and he was two pounds one ounce, which was really big for a 25-weeker," she said. "And we were given every hope in the world that he would be fine and that he would spend a long time in the NICU, but that he would be a really healthy baby."
He was too frail to feed, so Heidi pumped breast milk for him. Unfortunately on his second day of life, Jonah developed bleeding in his brain and passed away, shortly after.
"When he died, I had no idea what I should do with his breast milk; I had already pumped six ounces in the hospital, I had no idea, should I throw it away? I really had no clue."
Thankfully a friend of hers knew about the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio, a hospital that accepts breast milk donations, to feed sick and premature babies. Heidi contacted them, and after filling out extensive health assessments, she decided since she couldn't feed her baby she could help feed other babies.
"If I was able to pump, I would maintain a connection to Jonah. Plus, I would be able to help so many babies have a fighting chance at life, and provide them with something Jonah wasn't able to have."
"Each of these bags had 10 ounces or so," said Heidi, pointing to a picture she posted on Facebook page she created, called "Jonah's Path."
Like clockwork, Heidi pumped every four hours, day and night. "I kept telling myself that if Jonah was here, I'd be getting up in the middle of the night to take care of a newborn, so the least thing I could do was get up to pump for somebody else's baby."
Three and a half months and 1,300 ounces of milk later, Heidi packed up the breast milk and shipped it to the Mother's Milk Bank. There, it will be donated to other sick and premature babies instead of formula, which is what most hospitals use.
"Things do happen for a reason," Heidi said. "If I could have Jonah back, I'd take him back in a second and not go through all of this, but because he wasn't here, we were given this opportunity to let people know that donating breast milk is a beautiful thing, it's a generous thing and for hospitals to accept that would give their NICU babies a fighting chance at life."
With only two days on this earth, Jonah's milk will help many babies survive and raise awareness of the importance of breast milk donation.
"He's had a huge impact on this world that most people don't have," Heidi said. "So I feel very fortunate to be his mom."
So where did Heidi's milk go? Join us next Monday for a special "Moms in Motion" where we travel to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio to get a first hand look at what a milk bank is, and how it helps save the lives of the sickest and most at-risk babies. And we pose the question to our local hospitals: why don't we use breast milk donations for the sick babies in our area?