Just two weeks after receiving the amazing news that she was going to be a mother, Amanda Bernier was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS — characterized by loss of motor skills, which eventually sets into paralysis and complete degeneration of the muscles until the ability to swallow or breathe is gone — a disease her mother, grandmother, and other family members have died from. Though there is no cure or treatment for ALS, 29-year-old Amanda was determined to carry her baby to full term and deliver a healthy child — but most of all, she was determined to breastfeed.
Her baby, affectionately called Peanut, was born healthy at 39 weeks via C-section after Amanda spent 15 weeks in the MICU. Though her doctors didn't know how her body would handle a major surgery, let alone if she would live to meet her baby, she defied the odds — just like she knew in her heart she would. She also predicted that her sweet little girl would be able to nurse, and she was right about that too. With the help of both Peanut's nurse and a lactation nurse, the mama-and-daughter pair fought their way through every obstacle to breastfeed successfully.
Like many mothers, Amanda experienced pain and discomfort throughout the process — not to mention her inability to position her daughter herself — but with the help of her family, she continued breastfeeding Peanut and even figured out a way to pump and fill the entire freezer with milk for her baby girl. Amanda is solely pumping now, as Peanut stopped nursing once she got teeth due to the pain and bleeding, but even though she's had milk blisters and is developing calluses, Amanda is still powering through.
ALS took a lot away from Amanda — she can't change her daughter's diaper, she won't be there for many of the important moments of Peanut's life, and the time to make new memories together is dwindling — but for now, she's bravely taking it day by day, drinking in the smiles her baby sends her way and giving her daughter the gift of breastmilk while she still can. She's a true inspiration and is encouraging other mothers with her story to fight through and overcome the difficulties associated with breastfeeding.
To read more about Amanda's story or donate to support her family, visit her website.