Demi Frandsen spent months at the NICU at the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center after her son Leo was born two months early, and with gastroschisis.
“There was no skin to pull over his exposed organs,” Frandsen explains to ABC 6. “It was kind of a new case they had not seen before.”
From the beginning, Leo had trouble taking in Frandsen’s milk, particularly in large quantities. But it was one of the few ways she could feel like she was caring for him while Leo was covered in wires in the NICU.
“With a q-tip we’d put it in my milk and we’d swab his mouth,” she says.
Leo passed away on Oct. 22, and Frandsen and her family are working on coming to terms with his death.
“We’re still trying to figure out how to live a life without such a big part of it, a little piece of our soul,” she says. “We miss our Leo. It’s not even day to day. It’s moment to moment.”
But Frandsen wanted to give back to the hospital that took care of her son for his entire life, so even before he died she started donating all the milk he couldn’t drink. And she kept going after he died, waking up every three hours to pump out bottles of milk.
“My final donation was 17,503 ounces, which is 131 gallons,” she says. “So, a dairy aisle, basically.”
Now Frandsen’s breast milk can go to babies developing in the NICU, just like Leo.
“He was worth it. He was worth all of this,” Frandsen. “His life in 10 months was the best 10 months of mine.”