Amazing Moms: Nursing Mothers of Marquette, Mich.

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Adoption, Childcare, Single Parenting, Amazing Parents, Breast-Feeding

Robbie Goodrich, center, and his 6-month-old son Moses, surrounded by some of the women who breast-fed the baby. Credit: Susan Tusa, Detroit Free Press/MCT

Amazing Moms: Laura Janowski, Eyre Becker, Tina Charboneau, Courtney Chase, Kyra Fillmore, Carrie Fiocchi, Teisha Foster, Nicoletta Fraire, Sally Keskey, Sarah McDougal, Nikki Murray, Karla Niemi and others.

They Live In: Marquette, Michigan

Why They're Amazing: When Susan Goodrich of Marquette, Mich., died during childbirth on Jan. 11, 2009, her friends rallied to the side of her husband Robbie Goodrich -- offering to breastfeed his newborn son Moses.

Other friends and friends of friends joined in -- some two dozen in total from this small town -- and in short order, baby Moses had more than enough milk, and motherly love, available to him.

Life turns on a dime, Robbie realized, but this crossed the border into surreal. "I've spent the past few months getting used to the fact that this is reality now," he said last year.

And speaking of reality, at least six television producers have approached him about starring in a reality show.

"It would be a really boring show," Goodrich said.

Maybe not. The idea of two dozen women taking turns breast-feeding a widower's baby became quite the sensation last summer. Laura Janowski, a family friend who was already nursing her own 4-month-old daughter, asked if he would like her to breast-feed Moses as well. Almost instinctively, Robbie said yes.

Marquette is a college town of about 20,000 on the shore of Lake Superior in what Robbie said is not so much rural as "rugged." Everyone knows everyone else -- or least knows someone who knows someone, so word of Susan's death spread quickly. Her best friend, Nicoletta Fraire, took charge of organizing the nursing team.

Team member Carrie Fiocchi told the Savannah Morning News that she realizes Moses isn't her baby, but the bond is inescapable. "He definitely feels like family."

Although the women's love for baby Moses touches him, Robbie says it's bittersweet. "Every moment of joy has sorrow in it." He still grieves the loss of his wife, but tries to put on as brave a face as possible. "The crying goes on in private," he said.

For his part, Moses was weaned off breast milk just before his first birthday. The remaining breast milk was donated to Devyn Willis, an adopted baby of two of Robbie's friends in Marquette.

"Many of Moses' moms have donated and even breast-fed Devyn over the past six months so that every day he has had at least some breast milk," Robbie says.

Robbie and the moms stay in touch. "We host a weekly dinner every Thursday at our house and invite the moms and their families -- always a house full of kids with every lap at the adult table with a baby," he says. "We all want to keep the bonds as intimate as they have been and it does appear that the Moses community is well-integrated."

As for Moses, Robbie says he's doing wonderfully. "Chubby, bright and happy," he says. He took his first steps on Dec. 6, "but he did not truly decide to walk as a preferred option until late February. He's walking solidly now."

Robbie and the moms celebrated Moses' birthday at the local YMCA and invited all the families. He cherishes the bonds he's forged with the moms and admires the way they keep helping. "I hope the legacy continues," he says.

Robbie, The Dad, Says: "These are loving, nurturing women. They're proud of what they're doing. They're proud of the community, and they're proud of their new micro-community."

Recognition: The women who nursed Moses have gotten plenty of worldwide attention. Most recently, Susan's story was used in the documentary "No Woman, No Cry" about global maternal mortality. The movie premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Related: Amazing Mom: Saranne Rothberg

Want to see who else made the list? Click here for the rest of AOL's 2010 Amazing Moms!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.