When Rachel Braverman realized she forgot the cooler holding 100 oz. of her breast milk on a plane, she assumed it was gone.
“I just started crying. I was exhausted, and it’s frustrating,” the mom-of-four tells PEOPLE. “You spend so much time and effort pumping in the five spare minutes you have a day, and it was a lot of milk!”
Braverman had been stockpiling the milk for her 4-month-old son Brent, while she was away with the rest of her family at Disney World, and didn’t think there was a chance she could get it back after leaving it under the seat on her flight back to New Jersey.
“There was really nothing I could do at that point,” she says. “My friends were telling me to call United, and I was like, what are they going to be able to do? It’s long gone.”
But five hours after she got home to Northern New Jersey, her husband got a text from a United flight attendant — Jeff Nowotny — who said he had her milk.
“It said, ‘Hi, my name is Jeff, I’m a flight attendant on United and I think I have something that belongs to you, please call or text me,’ ” Braverman says. “I called him and he was like, ‘Oh my god, I have your breast milk, don’t worry, I’ve had it on ice all afternoon,’ which was the last thing I had on my mind, whether it was on ice or not. I could not even believe someone even found it.”
She was even more surprised when Nowotny, who wasn’t even one of the attendants on her flight, offered to bring the breast milk right to her house.
“I could not even believe what was coming out of his mouth,” Braverman says. “He was like, ‘It’s Mother’s Day, I know how important this [breast milk] is, I’m so happy I could do this for you.’ ”
Nowotny had put the milk on ice for his entire shift — two flights from Newark to Orlando and back — and dropped the milk at Braverman’s house late that night. She woke up a few hours after and found the milk safe outside, surrounded by huge bags of ice.
“He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever come across,” Braverman says. “He’s a very sweet, nice guy. He said he has so many nieces and nephews and I’m sure they would want someone to do the same for them.”
Braverman added that they’ve been texting back and forth ever since, and she made sure to contact United and give Nowotny a glowing review. She also posted about the “Mother’s Day miracle” on Facebook, and loves that she can share a happier story about flight attendants.
“Everyone who has seen the story is so shocked by it,” she says. “It’s a random act of kindness and everyone is so surprised that someone would do that.”