'It was one of the things that she wanted the most for the baby, and it was important to her, so it was important to me,' her grieving husband shared.
Megan Richards was determined to breastfeed her youngest child, five-month-old Myles, through his first birthday. Even when she came down with COVID-19 last month, the mom-of-six refused to stop pumping for her son. Now, following her death due to complications from the virus, her grieving family is trying to fulfill her wish by collecting donations of breast milk. "It was one of the things that she wanted the most for the baby, and it was important to her, so it was important to me," Megan's husband, Michael Richards told Good Morning America.
"Even when she got sick and I was trying to keep her in bed, and just try to get her to rest, I talked to her about it maybe being time to stop pumping -- she'd been pumping to be able to feed him with a bottle -- and she refused," Richards added. After the family shared their story with their local station, WDAF-TV, in Missouri, strangers from across the country reached out with offers to donate breast milk. Brittany Eppenauer, Megan Richards's sister who is leading the drive for breast milk donations, revealed that she has received nearly 300 emails from women who want to donate.
So far, the Oak Grove family has received about 400 ounces of donated breast milk and a donated freezer to store it. However, they still have a long way to go as they estimate they will need around 10,000 ounces to reach Myles's first birthday in July 2022. "The first donation that we received came from a woman named Megan," Eppenauer said. "It's overwhelming to know that other moms care that much, to make sure that we can fulfill my sister's wishes."
"She was a perfect mother. Everything she did was for the kids," Richards said of his late wife, who was the mother of five biological children and shared a step-child with him. "We put off vacations and dates for ourselves so we could spend more time with the kids. Everything was about them." He explained that the blended family had all caught COVID-19 around November 9, with the kids getting sick first and then passing it on to their parents. Even while Megan was sick, her main focus was making sure her children were taken care of, Richards revealed. "Trying to keep the kids occupied and making sure that she was getting rest, and she was trying to make sure I was getting rest, and it was it was stressful," he said.
While most of them only suffered mild symptoms, baby Myles struggled and had to be treated at the hospital for dehydration. Fortunately, he recovered quickly and was able to come home after receiving fluids. Megan, however, began suffering worsening symptoms and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance on November 14. "I stepped outside to call 911, and when I got back inside Megan was laying on the living room floor," Richards said. "Our oldest said she stood up and said she didn't feel right and passed out."
At the hospital, the 32-year-old was treated for dehydration and although she was expected to recover quickly, Richards received a distressing phone call from the hospital the next day. They informed him that his wife's condition had worsened. By the time he arrived at the hospital, doctors were performing CPR on Megan, who had fluid buildup around her heart. She died later that day. Megan wasn't vaccinated and her family now encourages others to take the shot. "I regret that I didn't push her to get it," Richards said.
Richards and Eppenauer said they're now trying to fill the void left by Megan—described as "one of the best mommas around" by Eppenauer. "My niece's birthday was on December 1, and it took eight adults to do what she could have done as one person in putting on a birthday party," she said. "We don't know how we'll fill her shoes, but we're going to try."