Lauren Casper, 31, and Sarah Rieke, 30, from Virginia, did all the things normal best friends do – except one thing.
Three years ago, after losing her own newborn daughter in tragic circumstances, Rieke offered to breastfeed her friend’s newborn adopted daughter, Arsema, with her own milk.
‘I didn’t feel like what I was doing was that special at the time. I had this milk, and she had a baby. And while I was in a time of weeping, and she was in one of rejoicing, we were both able to acknowledge each other’s situations. I actually found breastfeeding Arsema quite therapeutic,’ she said.
Back in 2013, Rieke had been expecting her own baby girl, while Casper was about to adopt a little girl.
Both women hoped their daughters would grow up to be best friends as they were, and the pair had already spoken about entering the next stage of motherhood together.
When Evie was born, in November 2012, she only lived for four hours before Rieke had to say goodbye. ‘I was so tearful over my situation,’ she said.
A week later, Rieke made what many might consider to be a difficult decision. Because she was still producing breast milk, she decided to offer it to her best friend, Casper, who couldn’t feed little Arsema because she was adopted:
‘Breastfeeding Arsema helped me with my grief. While obviously, there were occasions when I wished I could have been breastfeeding my own daughter, and I did often think that I wished our girls could grow up together, it meant the world to me to do something for a friend who had been there for me throughout my life,’ she says.
Casper has now moved away from where Rieke lives, but the two remain firm friends. Rieke believes she does have a special relationship with the now four-year-old Arsema:
‘Any time we get together, it is wonderful. I have other children now and have since lost another child. It never gets any easier, but on the second occasion, I didn’t have the emotional energy nor the opportunity to offer my breast milk up.’
According to Rieke, breastfeeding Arsema will always be a special memory.
She says: ‘Lauren totally wasn’t expecting me to offer, but I knew she was being genuine when she told me it would mean the world to her if I did. I don’t know whether my breast milk has affected Arsema, but I like to think it helped her in some way.’