Amy Anderson was 20 weeks pregnant with her baby boy when she found she had miscarried. She delivered the baby two days later. And then, against her doctor's orders, she started pumping.
"I thought to myself, OK, I have this breastmilk," Anderson told Today.com. "Now I need to figure out what to do with it."
Anderson—who has sons Brody, 8, and Owen, 2, with husband Bryan—knew all about the benefits of breastmilk and figured she could donate hers. So she kept pumping while she worked through the grieving process.
On day, she asked her former employer if she could take regular breaks to express milk. They looked at her, she told Today, and said, "Your baby is dead."
Turns out, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law didn't include bereaved or surrogate mothers, something Anderson now hopes to rectify. So she quit her job in order to fight to change the law and make it formally inclusive of all lactating women.
"It doesn't matter whether or not you now have a baby to hold," she said. "I was a lactating woman with physical needs.
After pumping for eight months, Anderson successfully donated 92 gallons of breast milk to five milk banks in four different states and Canada, which resulted in more than 30,000 feedings.
"This was Bryson's life purpose and I'm going to embrace that," Anderson said, adding that she often found comfort in looking at Bryson's ultrasound photo while pumping. "That was my time to unwind and be with my angel. It helped me work through my grief."
She's also working toward something else: completing her certification to become a breastfeeding consultant, all while volunteering for Mothers' Milk Bank Northeast and continuously fighting to change the law. Now her impact is beginning to make a difference: She recently heard back from a state legislator who offered to help.
"Family and friends were always so nervous to bring up Bryson's name and didn't realize that I needed the acknowledgment," said Anderson, who has lost three other babies to miscarriages in the last eight years. "But now with what I'm doing, he gets brought up every day, which makes me smile."