Never Forgotten - Noor's Legacy
While the primary service area of Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) encompasses NICUs located in the upper part of the state, there is one exception in the greater Houston area: Texas Children’s Hospital’s main campus in Texas Medical Center and its satellite facilities in west Houston and The Woodlands. While Texas Children’s hospitals utilize donor milk from MMBNT, they also connect Houston area mothers with an excess supply of breastmilk to the milk bank’s donor program.
One of these milk donors is Verda, who lives with her family in Sugar Land, 19 miles from Texas Medical Center. Her fourth child and third daughter, Noor, fought a valiant battle against leukemia diagnosed shortly after birth and died five months later.
In her own heartrending words, Verda shares how donating breastmilk after such a monumental loss has acknowledged, honored and celebrated her beloved baby girl.
Noor had a normal delivery. However, when concerning spots presented on her skin eight hours later, she was taken to the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH). Soon after, we found out that Noor was born with a rare type of leukemia. She started chemotherapy immediately and continued to do five more rounds. Her journey was difficult, but she was so strong.
Noor was never able to come home, so we moved into the hospital. Because of COVID-19, her siblings were only able to visit her a few times. She went outside twice for a walk which was very special for our family. She passed away on her fifth-month birthday due to complications of her leukemia.
Losing a child is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I don’t think I have the words to convey or articulate the feeling of loss I have experienced. It is painful and has forever changed my family and myself. So much time is spent preparing for the arrival of a child, but no one can ever be prepared to handle what comes when that child passes away. We, as a family, are still navigating daily how to learn to live with the loss we have experienced and the void in our hearts.
Despite Noor’s difficult journey, she was such a happy and beautiful little girl. Noor loved to be held and snuggled. We tried to make everything as “normal” as we could for her. We read to her, played with her and just loved her. We celebrated all her little milestones, even the NICU/PICU ones that other children don’t get to experience. We celebrated her life, and we plan to continue to do so even though she has left us.
Seeing all the babies in the NICU was startling to me. It’s a world that I never knew existed until I got there myself. When I would go to the TCH milk bank to pump or drop off my milk, I noticed how many parents were getting donor milk. I didn’t realize that there was such a demand. I guess it’s something you don’t really ever think about, but the idea of donation ended up sticking with me.
I worked really hard to provide breastmilk for Noor. As a parent in a situation where I had no control, working to keep my supply up was something I could actually do. I was very blessed to have a strong supply. I have to credit the lactation consultants at TCH for being my cheerleaders and support system.
I stored my milk at the hospital and in my deep freezer at home. My frozen milk supply started to build up very fast and I ended up with more milk than Noor would ever need.
After Noor passed away, I remember standing one day in front of the two deep freezers in my garage and thinking I would donate for her and for those little ones and families who needed the support. It was just an obvious solution to me.
I didn’t realize how emotional and meaningful donating would be. It took me some time to get the energy to pack up the milk and send it off, but when I did, I felt proud. I felt so proud of Noor, that even in a tragic situation, she was still living on by helping other babies have a chance.
We feel very blessed to have had the time that we did with Noor. I’m honored to be her mother. I love my sweet daughter and miss her with all my heart.