Monday, August 04, 2008

You can officially call us crazy

Got Milk?

Well...I don't.

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 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 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 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.


Feldman Family said...

Praise the Lord! Nursing a baby - especially an adopted baby is one of the coolest things I have ever done!
Nursing made Isaac feel like mine!
I praise the Lord too for the body of Christ! Isaac had breast milk too & it was amazing to think that people who loved me and my baby were helping noursish my baby!
This (the whole nursing an adopted baby)is just one of those things that seems weird until you are educated about it. Thanks for educating folks! Praise the Lord sister!

ps. any adoptive moms who are more curious about this feel free to ask!

Jenny C. said...

Love this post! I, like you, love to nurse. I've often said I would love to be a wet nurse!

I actually saw this on an episode of A Baby Story when I was pregnant (isn't that when most people watch A Baby Story?) I thought "How cool!"

I pray that you will begin lactating. Until then, how beautiful for you to have breast milk to give Hudson. Love it!

God Bless,

The Kramer Family said...

I LOVE this and thinks its beautiful! I've seen the milk necklace in action.

I'm praying for milk in full belief that Jesus can do anything. He even commands inanimate objects like the wind and waves. He most definitely can speak milk into our girls!

Love ya!

Landreneau Family said...


I have been dying for you to get to this post! I tell my husband all the time that I'd choose to have another baby all the time just so I can nurse.

I am so glad this is going well for you!


Hendrick Family said...


Please ask questions! I would hate for anyone to stop thinking through adoption simply because they were afraid to ask questions.

I'm even giving demonstrations. Really. I love that my girlfriends are comfortable enough with me to say, "I want to see you do this."



Landreneau Family said...

If I lived even remotely near you, I'd SO be coming for a demonstration!!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post! I am so happy for you that you are embarking on this nursing adventure so that you can further help educate people about the wonders of adoption!

When I got to the bottom of your post about your girlfriends providing milk for Hudson, tears just sprang into my eyes. How perfect that others are helping you nourish his little body and mind now that he is born, just as his other mother nourished his body before birth.

The beauty of adoption is that you cannot, absolutely cannot do it alone. I don't mean that single people cannot adopt. I mean that our spirits cannot begin to walk this walk without the love, nourishment, support and being constantly held up to God. That's what our friends and families do. It is beautiful. Adoption has it's own special needs and emotions that do not come into play when you are raising a birth-child.

Even though nursing Grayson was not an option for us at the time, I hope I can nurse our next baby. you continue to inspire me! :-)

Here's to praying for very full breasts (yours and those of your sweet sweet friends who continue to love Hudson in this most intimate way!) Praise Jesus!

Alicia in Tuscaloosa, AL

Becky said...

Thanks for sharing this.
I did not nurse either of my children who were adopted so, my comment is not in regards to that.
I just wanted to say that both of my children and myself bonded very quickly, very easily, and both of them immediately felt like my 'own' b/c they were! God had predestined that they were mine and I was theirs and He orchestrated beautifully the instant connection that we had. I do not have the comparison to a 'natural' child so, all I know is I loved each of my children the second I knew of their existence!
Either way, lots of skin on skin contact is a wonderful thing and we did have that!

Amanda said...

So, you're going to think I'm absolutely nuts, but I'm sitting here weeping all over my laptop. I am overwhelmed with an unbelievable series of emotions that I could never fully explain.

Over the last four years, we've been on a journey to grow our family that has left us with four babies in Heaven before us and empty space in our hearts. When our son Zachary was born prematurely last year, and died two hours later, my never getting to nurse him, to feel him at my breast, intensified the grief I felt as a result of his death.

We've discussed adoption on and off over the course of these years, but I've been resistant for a number of reasons -- partly because of fear, partly because my "moving on" takes away from my babies who've died, and so on. But if I'm being honest, one of those reasons was not being able to nurse an adopted baby.

I know it sounds small and silly, but our oldest child is adopted, and our youngest is not. I had no idea how amazing and precious the act of breastfeeding was until I experienced it, and I felt like after all I've been through, I'd rather do without a baby than do without the whole package. (Yes, I know I am totally selfish and broken and miserable.)

I don't know exactly what we're going to do, but I do know that I'm more open to adoption than ever before. My husband has been open and interested and pursuing for quite some time, and I now finding myself thumbing through agency brochures and perusing websites. I just wanted you to know that your post absolutely blessed my heart.

Hendrick Family said...

I love hearing stories like Becky's and so many others where bonding immediately took place. God is so good!

One of the things that New Life talks about is how sometimes, that connection doesn't take place as quickly as adoptive parents would like. At New Life, I have appreciated all the training we received and how honest all of it was. Any fantasies I had about adoption were erased and replaced with truth...even though some of it was very hard to hear.

ONE of the things I love about New Life is that they are so open and talk about all the fears and issues that are hard to even put into words as parents going through this process.

I can say with full confidence that I don't think there is anything I could say to the ladies at New Life that would first of all be new to them, or shock them.

According to New Life, the truth is there are many adoptive parents that feel guilt or shame for NOT feeling instantly connected with the child they adopted.

If anyone is reading this blog that falls under that category, let me be a voice of truth...according to New Life, this isn't rare and there are tangible ways to work on bonding with your child, no matter how old they are.

But first, you have to admit the problem to someone so they can help. Of course, I can only recommend the ladies at New Life, but I'm sure there are other people who could help, but most importantly, PRAY with you and for you.

And this isn't something that only happens in adoptions. I have heard several stories from women I love dearly who birthed their children and had a hard time bonding with them. Unfortunately, the enemy takes this problem and makes women feel so much guilt that they have a hard time being honest about their feelings.

God is bigger than ALL of our emotions and there's nothing too hard for Him.

I love that in an instant, our hearts can be bonded deeply with our children, but even if that's not the case, we serve a big God who is much greater than the issue of bonding.

So...if you are considering adoption, YES bonding can happen quickly...or, it can take some time. You have to be prepared for both, but knowing the truth can also help you know better how to PRAY and ask others to pray with you before you ever bring your baby home.


Jon & Sally said...

You did it.
I didn't think this blog could go any farther than it already had!!
Seriously. You're OVER the TOP!!
I love it!
Thanks SO MUCH for sharing. We're total hippies. ...everyone must think we're strange for loving breastfeeding THIS much!!
And I continue to love hearing the story!! Thanks for letting us in and being willing to look so totally weird for our sake.
Love you for it!!

Brandi said...

i support you 1000% and i'm so glad you're doing this!

if we ever adopt i would definitely give it a try.

Claire Borne said...

Oh, Heather, you are crazy, but that's why we love you so much! God is so good and you have right before you a perfect picture of the body of Christ in action. I just love it!

Can't wait to see you again soon!

Love you,

Becky said...

I am glad you brought up the comment of women who have given birth to their children also struggling to bond with them. I have seen this with a few friends of mine. Adoption is not the only area in which this can be a concern/struggle. You are right, the enemy works that area b/c all women are led to believe that you instantly fall so in love and bond so tightly or something is wrong with you.

Same with adoption. It came so easily for us but, not for all families. The training is very important and our agency did a good job as well. Hearing from families on both sides of the fence at support group/training meetings was very helpful as well, while we waited.

The biggest concern of mine was the entitlement issue. We had a lot of training on that. Having those feelings of guilt and anguish over what the birth parent/families are going through that it's hard to claim that child as your own. Thus, it's hard to let yourself 'let go' and completely engage in bonding with the child. In adoption, that is where the struggle to bond begins. First, you have to accept that the birthmother made this decision, chose you, and gave you 'permission' to have and parent her child. You will have those feelings of love, compassion, and guilt for the birthmother however, you have to push through it for baby's sake! You have to claim the right granted you to be that child's parent, in every single way!

Thanks for sharing so much in a wonderful way.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I lOVE this post! As a die-hard breastfeeding mom myself, I salute you! I'm so glad you stuck it out through the painful moments, and I just know our God will bless that with milk of your own soon. How beautiful is it that the other women are sharing wonderful milk for little Hudson? This makes my heart sing!

Oh, and he's a cute little thing, too!

Sarah Shalley said...

so amazing! i just love you and love hearing about your babies.

Lerin said...

I love the way you describe that bonding between mother-and-child... calling it a "deranged you're min, I'm yours" thing really hits the nail on the head. :) Still got milk for you if you need it, and a stroller too! Now that the hurricane-that-wasn't has passed, travel should be safe. :)

Nicole said...

I am so excited for you and appreciate your openess and honesty. I am currently nursing my 4th child. It isnt just this flowery thing for me, but, for me, it was God orchestrated and I am thankful that I was obedient. I will say though to those that are prego, nursing DID hurt for me. LOTS. For about 4 or 5 weeks. Nothing was wrong. We saw lactation consultants and doctors. I had no cracked nipples or any other issues. My baby was latching on great. It still hurt. Then it got better. And I was able to nurse them each until they were a year. I was so vrey thankful that I stuck it out! There is something so fabulous about knowing your baby is gaining weight & thriving based on what your body is providing. God is amazing! (plus, I count it a blessing to not have to spend all that money on formula!) Anyway, I wanted prego moms to know that it is ok if it hurts & not to get depressed if you dont feel like the goofy smiling moms in the magazines while you are nursing your newborn....and to really try to stick it out. its worth it. (& the lanolin is GREAT!)

Heather G. said...

Heather, I am So happy for you!! I had to use the nursing necklace when I first had Logan. After a few days he finally got the hang of nursing.It is such a blessing that your nursing friends are giving you their "liquid gold" Can't wait to read more about your beautiful family!!

Donna said...

I nursed our second foster child that we later adopted from CPS, and can you believe it's against CPS rules to breastfeed a foster child? So I had to put a can of Similac on the counter every time a caseworker came. :\

Also, I don't know where you live, but if you live in Texas there's numerous sources for raw milk, the absolute best in the country from the Godfrey family (Alysha is the wife) near Brenham, I believe (I say "I believe" because they moved and so did we). I used to drive over four hours RT to get it so I could make a homemade formula for our foster babies to supplement. The recipe is on Weston Price Foundation's website. Just fyi. :)

Congrats on your sweet angel.

Amanda said...

Just wanted to let you know I linked to your post.

the_wells said...

ugh. i love you after reading this post.
i know - you wrote it a year and a half ago.
i have 2 little girls - friends who are starting the adoption process - and faith that it may happen for us in the future.
found your blog through the kramers - we are hopefully visiting their farm in the coming weeks.
i think people think i'm a freak for nursing my kids so long..which makes me think - can i keep nursing one of my own and hopefully that will overlap with an adoption ??- God willing. i may nurse until she's going to kindergarden....;/

dixie-cricket said...

Love it!!! Thank you for sharing this. I hope to adopt and nurse my babies too, someday. I appreciate your honesty and I'm so with ya!

Johanna @ These Prices said...

Thank you for sharing this. I too have treasure in my deep freeze and an SNS ready to go for when our baby comes home. Your comment about dry nursing hurting scares me a bit, but pray He will give me the strength to battle through it.

Anonymous said...

I love this. If we adopt one day, which I hope we will, I plan to do the same! AND I totally don't think you're weird. I think you're a GOOD mother for doing the awkward non-normal thing but for doing what's best for you and your (then) baby.

Sarah Houser said...

Good for you!! My husband and I are *just* beginning our adoption journey and are terrified and excited. I "stumbled" on your blog and it has been such an encouragement to me today! So many of my fears, you have addressed. I love that you breastfed your babe. As a doula and breastfeeding counselor, not being pregnant, giving birth and breastfeeding are some huge fears to the "bonding" issue. This helped some, thank you. Were you ever able to produce milk yourself through this process? I've heard some are able to re-lactate?