After her son was stillborn, this mom pumped enough milk to feed 6 babies.

Wendy Cruz-Chan was only 19 weeks pregnant with her son Killian when she was diagnosed with a rare uterine infection that led to him being stillborn.

Photo via Wendy Cruz-Chan.

While she was still reeling, emotionally devastated by the loss, Cruz-Chan noticed that her body was still preparing for a baby. Her breasts were so engorged they were leaking.


Determined not to let the negative feelings get her down, she decided to do something positive: She would donate her breast milk to moms with babies in need.

"I felt like my job being his mother was not done," says Cruz-Chan over the phone. "I needed to do more. I couldn’t dress him. I couldn’t hold him more. I couldn’t feed him and watch him grow. I needed to do something more to fulfill my purpose as a mother."

Cruz-Chan's husband supported her plan, and together, they started pumping and storing for moms and babies in need.

As a doula, Cruz-Chan already had connections to local new mom groups online, so she simply reached out and told them she had milk to spare.

A whole lot of it.

Photo via Wendy Cruz-Chan.

The process of getting the milk was exhausting. They were often up in the middle of the night relieving her swollen breasts — a common reality facing women who lose their babies.

In the end, however, Cruz-Chan says it was worth it.

After three months of pumping, she was able to donate 2,038 ounces (almost 16 gallons) of milk to six babies who needed it.

Photo via Wendy Cruz-Chan.

"Looking at those babies’ faces I was helping warms my heart," said Cruz-Chan. "It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Like I’m doing something to make sure my son’s milk is being used with lots of love."

There are many reasons why it might be more difficult for some moms to breastfeed than others. One baby in particular, named Mackenzie, who has a genetic disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), especially benefited from Cruz-Chan's donation. As a result of EB, Mackenzie's skin is very fragile and she often breaks out in blisters. Cruz-Chan's milk, however, seemed to soothe her digestive track, which in turn helped calm her condition.

Cruz-Chan says the whole experience not only gave her a sense of purpose, but it also helped her grieve and mourn the loss of her son.

Now, she's raising money to get CuddleCots — beds that help preserve stillborn babies longer so parents can spend more time with them — into hospitals in New York City.

"People don’t want to talk about stillbirths, but they happen every day, and women suffer more because they feel like they can’t talk about it," she says.

October is Infant Loss Awareness Month. This is the time to be sharing stories like these to help support women and families who have lost children.

If you've recently lost a child and are looking to donate your breast milk, Cruz-Chan encourages you to reach out to your local breast milk bank or new mom and doula online communities. "Surround yourself with people who truly support your decision," she encouraged.

Helping other moms and babies may end up being the right experience to help you get closure and move forward with your life. It certainly was for Cruz-Chan.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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