Twins A’ja and Kyrie Smith-Cotton were born three months early with various health issues last November. As if that weren’t difficult enough for Alantria Smith, the new mom began struggling to produce enough breast milk for both babies due to stress.
Desperate to see her babies grow, Smith enlisted the help of moms in Abilene, Texas, in a Facebook post, asking for breast milk donations. Moms flocked to help Smith, and now the little ones have a new lease on life.
“It’s been sad, but also amazing to see my babies grow,” Smith, 22, tells PEOPLE. “When we are out, a lot of people are like, ‘They are so tiny!’ But to my family, we’ve been around them since birth, so to us, they’re huge now compared to birth.”
Both babies had trouble breathing and swallowing at birth, according to Inside Edition. A’ja developed a benign tumor on her lip and Kyrie was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a liver disease that will require Kyrie to undergo a transplant.
Doctors determined that breast milk would help the babies to grow, but the ordeal had taken such a toll on Smith that she began producing less and less milk of her own, she told Inside Edition.
She initially had one donor, but decided to reach out on the Moms of Abilene Facebook page and share Kyrie’s story.
“I’m no longer able to produce a lot being that he is also a twin and it’s very hectic dealing with twins,” she wrote in the post. “I have one lovely donor but I would like to look into having more rotate.”
With that, women in the community ran to the rescue.
“People wanted to come donate their own personal stash because they oversupply,” she told the outlet. “It was amazing.”
She wrote in a Facebook post that mothers from different cities and states have even offered to help.
“I would be honor[ed] for y’all to donate,” she wrote to the women. “But I am asking for you all to donate to your local milk bank or find mothers in your areas with children who have illnesses or simply can’t digest formula please and thank you.”
Now, the babies are steadily improving, Smith told Inside Edition. They are more active and visibly putting on weight. And Smith says she hopes her story can send a message about the power of breast milk.
“It has and a lot of moms need to know that breast milk helps a lot with premature babies growth and development,” she tells PEOPLE.