Monday, August 04, 2008
You can officially call us crazy
But what I do have is a newborn.
And the problem is...
I love breastfeeding.
I know it may sound nuts to some, but one of the things that was hardest for me to get over when considering adoption was that I could not nurse our next child (if you've been visiting here for a long time, then I know...by now, nothing I say may seem crazy to you anymore).
I know women bond with their babies, even if they don't breastfeed.
This post is not to attack anyone for their choice to bottle feed their children.
But for me - not being able to nurse our next child was hard for me.
I also had, in the back of my mind our experience as foster parents.
Last year we fostered a newborn.
We got him straight from the hospital.
I bottle fed him, of course.
And here's the hard truth...
I never felt like he was mine.
Oh, I loved him. Loved him! He was precious, and we were thankful for every day we had with Baby Joe as a family. But, there's no clearer way to say this...I never felt that deep, "he's mine" connection to him.
Maybe that was because he wasn't mine.
I don't know.
But I do know that on top of my normal fear and grief of realizing if we adopt, I won't have milk, so I can't nurse our baby was that added experience of having a baby in our home for several months that I bottled fed, and never felt that crazy, mother instinct towards.
And then I found out that moms who adopt can nurse their babies!
This was huge for me.
As adoptive mothers who are nursing, you may or may not make your own milk. Everyone's body responds very differently.
But having milk is not the issue. Bonding is the issue. For me, seeing this child just like I saw Anson, Hayden and Ashton was the issue. I wanted Hudson to feel as much mine as the rest of our kids. Whether it makes sense or not, breastfeeding was a giant "issue" that I needed to work through in the adoption process.
I would love to have a full milk supply so that Hudson was only getting breast milk.
However, that may never happen.
To get milk, experts recommend you do a few things...
Before you adopt, you can start pumping every three to four hours during the day for 20 minutes or so. I tried this, but had to stop. It hurt and, sheesh...I had three little boys running around my house at the time. Pumping is hardly discreet. I felt like I was constantly shutting myself in my room to pump, leaving my babies to talk to me through the door. That just couldn't happen in my house.
Or, if you have already brought a baby home, you can nurse your baby regularly. Having them at the breast every few hours can cause your body to kick in and start producing milk of its own.
There's also a prescription medication you can take. This medication was not created to make your body produce milk. Lactation is a crazy side effect from the drug. The medicine is actually for nausea. People on the medicine were found to be lactating, so now, doctors will prescribe this drug for moms, like me, who are trying to re-lactate. I was given Metoclopramide which was a substitute for Reglan. I got this prescription, started taking it and decided to quit. It made me so tired. Again...not good for a mother of three active little boys. I wanted to nurse, but had to be realistic. Milk was not necessarily my goal...bonding was, and I could start all that once Hudson came home.
You can also drink herbal teas from your local health food store to help build your milk supply. I have been doing this several times a day.
Because most women don't have a healthy milk supply before they adopt, in the mean time, you use one of these handy dandy contraptions:
I bought the Medela nursing system. However, Shannan Feldman bought the Lact-Aid nursing system, which looks like this...
For those of you who want to know how it works...
I fill the canteen-like container with formula. I wear it like a big milk necklace. Then, I tape one of the tubes to my skin, so that a little bit of the tubing is past my nipple. Holy cow, I just said nipple on my blog. I'm such a hippy. Can't wait to see what pervs end up here. Boy will they be disappointed.
When Hudson latches on, the thin tube is in his mouth, so when he sucks, he's actually swallowing the formula.
Here's a picture of what this looks like...
Picture of baby nursing using the system
That picture is not of my boob. Mine are not nearly that impressive, and my baby is not white.
That's the mechanics behind nursing, but here's the gushy, motherly part...
During our adoption training, we learn a lot about bonding issues.
Can I just say, I was pretty nervous about the whole thought that I could bring a baby home, and for awhile, not feel like this child was mine.
I know adoption is different in a lot of ways, but this one way was the hardest of all for me to wrap my brain around and embrace.
As soon as my other kids were born, I immediately loved them in a deranged, you're mine, I'm yours kind of way.
To even think about not feeling that way immediately about Hudson caused a lot of fear and grief for me.
I definitely think nursing him with the supplementer sped up our bonding time.
At first, "dry nursing" was so painful.
I remember at day three sitting with Aaron in the living room weighing the pros and cons of continuing. It hurt so much! When you have milk, breastfeeding should never hurt. If it hurts, something is wrong and can easily be fixed. Dry nursing is different. It just hurts for awhile.
To make it a little easier, I only nursed during the day. I used Lanolin after every single feeding.
I bottle fed at night, giving my girls a much needed break.
I also decided, before Hudson ever came home, that even if we had to use bottles, I was going to be the only one who fed him. That seemed more like it was with my other kids, so that's the way I wanted it with Hudson.
Pretty soon, the soreness went away.
I'm so thankful I persevered. I'm thankful I didn't give up that night sitting in the living room discussing it with Aaron.
Nursing Hudson now is so sweet.
I'm still having problems with it being inefficient at times. Sometimes, nursing Hudson takes the right, normal amount of time. Sometimes, he'll nurse for 25 minutes and still have two ounces left in the canteen (he eats a total of 3.5 ounces right now). It must have to do with not having the tubing in just the right spot. I'll get better at it, I'm sure. Most of the time, I nurse him for about 25 minutes and then pour the remaining amount in a little bottle and feed him the rest (it's usually only about 1/2 an ounce).
I still feed him a bottle in the middle of the night for one of the feedings, just so I can go back to bed quicker.
I still haven't gotten down how to do this weird thing in public. I've flashed my fair share of people and feel like I need many helpers to assist me as I try to get Hudson latched on while I'm out and about. A white family with an African American baby is already an attention getter...now add to that the mother has on a milk necklace and there are dark brown feet sticking out of her nursing cover up. We're quite the head turners.
But I'm loving nursing Hudson. I'm so thankful for this neat device that lets me pull my baby close, close, close to me. I love how he prefers me over the bottle at night. He's down right ugly about the middle of the night bottle. I love it!
So many of the kinks and rough spots have been worked out, and I know we'll figure out the rest of the glitches.
Want to know something else even more bizarre?
I know...how can anything be any more bizarre than this.
I only use half formula.
The rest of what Hudson is eating is milk my nursing friends have given us.
My sweet friends are pumping and giving us their breast milk, with all its nutrition and super good stuff so that we can feed it to Hudson. My freezer is filled with TREASURE from these wonderful, milk making women.