Wednesday, January 14, 2015

on lactating...or not.

It's been another busy week, for all of the same reasons as last week. 

Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Oh, except this week we also have a broken-down car to throw in the mix, forcing us into carpooling and waiting on tow trucks to pick up the dead Civic in the garage. Extra fun!! We've been procrastinating getting a new(er) (slash maybe bigger??) vehicle for some time...and now we're going to be forced into it, I guess. Yippee.

You know what one of the worst things about being super busy is? When you look at your camera roll on the phone and realize you've taken NO PICTURES OF YOUR FREAKING ADORABLE CHILD in like...a week. That is a horrible realization.

I finally took a few this morning, because babies in bear-ear-hoodies are pretty irresistible. Especially this baby.

Oh, but don't worry- what I lack in cute baby pictures, I make up for in amazing videos of the Civic's engine making its funny sound. Courtesy of Matt, obviously. It's taking so much self-control to not share that riveting video!! When I was scrolling through my camera roll there was this momentary Oooh a new video!! Matt must have took one of Millie doing someth--oh, never mind, it's a car engine. Womp.

Millie finally succumbed to some kind of cold or allergies or virus or Daycare Funk...she's one snotty and sneezy little thing. Her snot is still clear (not green or yellow) (isn't it great that I'm sharing this pertinent information?) and she doesn't have a fever, so hopefully she's not too sick...but I hate that she doesn't seem to feel well. And that she smears snot on everything, let's be honest. That's nasty. I must admit, though- her health held out about a week longer than I expected it to once she started daycare!! I thought the Funk would hit hard and early...she must have a pretty sweet immune system to survive this long! 

It is worth noting, though, that the Funk arrived exactly one day after she finished the last of her breast milk. Coincidence? I don't know, probably. But maybe not. I am so awed and amazed and grateful and thrilled that we had enough donor milk to last five and a half months!! Half of her diet for five months has been breast milk!! I really just can't believe it. What a huge blessing that donor milk was to us and to her. I know many people seem a little wary (or straight up grossed out) by the idea of donor milk, but I am so glad that it was an option available to us. My (and many of your) blog friend Emily wrote a great piece this week about why she donates breast milk- I really loved her perspective...and I'm just really, really thankful for her and so many other women like her that are willing to share with those of us who cannot breastfeed our own babies.

Back when we were initially consider and planning adoption, but before we were ever matched (either time), I had contemplated and even planned on trying to induce lactation. I really felt like breast milk was SO important for babies and that breastfeeding would be such an amazing way to bond with our baby. Each time we matched, though, I ended up deciding not to. And then questioning whether it was a decision I'd regret...while continuing to decide to not try. At the end of the day (or this almost-six months, as the case may be), I don't regret my decision to not try (although probably my lack of regret is greatly helped by the fact that Millie got breast milk anyway, despite my failure to try). Although each of our matches came about three months before the baby was just seemed like it would be so much work (beginning to pump around the clock in hopes to stimulate milk production...which...pumping around the clock is one thing if you're doing it for your living, breathing child...but I can only imagine how I would have felt sitting attached to that  thing for hours a day with no guarantee of ANYTHING- milk OR baby). And I was scared of taking the herbs and medicine that would help my hormones to induce lactation- I have enough issues with my endo and estrogen without monkeying around with things. I was terrified that if my hormones started getting screwy, my endo pain would get out of check...and the last thing I wanted to be doing while sitting around and waiting for my maybe-baby to be born was sitting around in a whole lotta pain. And then there are the emotional effects of hormones. I can promise you I didn't need to be any more emotional. Oh, and at any rate, the odds of all this induction effort working at all are not all that great unless you've previously breastfed before- which I haven't, obviously. So it's not like my body would be like "oh, this again? Okay then," and jump right back into things. So it seemed like a lot of risk for something that probably wouldn't work...

But far and above everything else, my greatest fear was that it would work- that sometime before August 4, Millie's due date, I would have started lactating. And that would be great- but what if our adoption failed again? I know what that feels like. I couldn't imagine experiencing it again. And I really couldn't imagine surviving it if it happened with a baby that I'd been breastfeeding and bonding with under the influence of extra estrogen and whatever other hormones breastfeeding produces. Oh, and what- then after I give the baby back, I have to deal with cold-turkey weaning? Sitting around in pain, waiting for my milk to dry up, every single minute a constant reminder of what I just lost?

Oh hell no.

I don't know why I'm even writing all this out. I guess I just want to remember. I've had people ask- and not usually in a judgmental way, thank goodness- why I didn't try to induce lactation. And I guess the short answer is that I was pretty sure it wouldn't work, and I was terrified of what could happen if it did. And I am incredibly thankful to live in a world where safe and healthy alternatives to breast milk exist- God bless you, Similac and Enfamil and Gerber.

And plus, I've heard of (okay, like...fiftieth-hand. Not like anyone I know personally.) people spontaneously lactating under extreme circumstances- like without even trying to induce it. Even men!!! (I totally want to Google and find the stories where I've read about this, but I'm too tired. If you find one, leave it in the comments, ha.) So my philosophy was that hey- if this adoption works and this is my forever baby, God is welcome and encouraged to spring some spontaneous lactation on me. Ha. I won't turn it down! But as it turned out, he didn't, and I'm fine with that. There are a lot of nice fringe benefits to bottle feeding, as it turns out, so I just focus on those and don't waste a minute on regretting what I didn't try. At the end of the day, Millie is healthy and beautiful and smart and a great sleeper and deeply bonded to both Matt and me, who are equally responsible for her nutrition- and I couldn't be any more thankful for how we got where we are. 

(Speaking of nutrition and how smart that girl is- now she not only recognizes/understands her bottles by sight (like, gets excited and/or fussy when she sees one, depending on how starving she is), but we think she understands the word 'bottle''s just a working theory right now, but we've had to start using code words so that she doesn't get insane before the bottle is ready...Matt, are you getting Millie's nutrition ready? is how we usually have to phrase it now. Erika, her wholesome meal is on the counter when you're ready. She totally hasn't caught on yet.)

I have no idea how I got off on this insanely long tangent, but here we are. I guess Em's blog just had me thinking, and then we just ran out of our milk yesterday, and now Millie is bam, there you are. I didn't try to breastfeed, but I'm deeply thankful for women who are willing to donate. And I'm really impressed with women who are able to induce lactation, and I wonder how they got past all the emotional roadblocks and fear that ended up crippling me. And I am absolutely not intending to dissuade anyone from trying to induce lactation! I think it's an awesome thing to try- it just wasn't for me in my situations thus far. Who knows what the future will bring, though? Oh, and I'm also thankful (and maybe have never mentioned before?) that Millie's birth mom was willing and able to breastfeed her in the hospital immediately after birth. THAT is truly priceless on about ten different levels. We just love her and respect her so much. And I'm also thankful that almost none (literally...I know I think two people in real life) of my friends use formula and that they therefore gave me all of the formula samples and coupons that come in the mail to them. Ha. Those things were/are life savers!! 

Well, with that, I'm off to enjoy a few minutes of relishing the fact that I've already completed my 10k steps today and don't have to walk laps around my house before bed...and then go to bed. Have a happy rest of the week!


  1. When I read "your blog friend Emily" I immediately thought...well she isn't my friend but sounds interesting so I clicked the link. And SURPRISE...I know Emily. Like as in we were childhood friends. So I guess she is my friend. Small world.

    And yes the snot everywhere is disgusting - here's to hoping it is short lived!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I had many of the same thoughts about inducing while waiting for DIA. Now that my situation has changed, I pray I have enough milk to donate to an adoptive mom. It's really important to me to try to do it. Hope Millie feels better soon.

  3. Thank you for reminding me to put my Fitbit on this morning! :)
    This might be my favorite post by you about your internal struggles. Through all your infertility, endo crap, adoption, loss, and waiting you had to deal with the what-ifs. The brain doesn't allow for the easy-peasy go to sleep nights where there's nothing on your mind. It's a constant question of what's best. You made decisions based on what you knew you could handle at that time, six months down the road and for your future baby! Millie!!!
    Thank you for a little peek in to your (crazy) totally sane head albeit via a super fun blog post!

  4. What an amazing gift to have all of that donor milk! When I had Clara I had a bunch of leftover freezer breast milk and donated it to a friend who was going back to work. Brandon thought that was odd at first, but he got over it, haha.

    I once heard/read somewhere that "Breast milk may be best, but formula is not (in any way) bad." I love this and that there are two perfectly healthy options for feeding a tiny baby. Two great choices and every mom gets to make that choice. :)

  5. What a great post! I think a lot of ppl aren't even aware that milk donation exists. I donated some to a local twin Mama when I was nursing Stella and had a bit of an oversupply. With Harvey *I* was the one struggling, and I got help from two different friends to make it through to a year (my goal). I have a co-worker and friend who is encouraging and oversupply right now so she can donate too. It's such an amazing gift to be able to help a baby out with!

  6. That is amazing about the milk donation!! I will definitely consider that if I have the opportunity to nurse again - oversupply, surprisingly, since I technically can fit in training bras. :)

    Breastfeeding (and not) is such a personal thing. What you feed your kids is such a personal thing! I hate that people feel like they have to always justify why they're doing what. (I know you're not doing that, but I just see so much pressure on parents around breast milk, formula, organic, homemade, etc). Sometimes I give JB a cheeto, just to keep it real and remind myself not to obsess over every single thing that goes in his body.

  7. I didn't even know you could try and induce lactation! That's fascinating! What a gift those donors are, though.

    And too funny about her knowing the word bottle. I think our dogs know words. We totally spell things and use other words for "out" and "food" and "treat." They knows those for sure.

  8. I'm glad you wrote this. It makes me feel more normal. I want to try to induce, but I'm terrified of the same things. The drugs don't make me super happy. I've heard from my aunt (a lactation specialist) that they can have some pretty awful side effects. That worries me, but really it's the logistics of trying... like I'm supposed to pump every two hours while at work??? I don't have an office, so everyone in the area would know. Plus, like you said, what if the worst happens? What if it works and then I have no baby to bring home??? It's all pretty scary stuff.

    So glad you and Millie were supported by other moms in these early months. That's pretty incredible!

  9. Thanks for being honest and sharing what works for you and why you made your decision! I have had friends induce lactation for adoption, but also friends who used formula!! Everyone makes their own decisions and I'm glad you found what works best for y'all!! I think there is so much grace no matter what anyone decides!

  10. Love this - thanks for sharing! I couldn't find the link to your friend Emily's blog post, but I'm interested in how, exactly, to go about donating breast milk... Got anything?

  11. I would encourage anyone who is adopting a baby to try to induce lactation! I had experienced a miscarriage 9 months before my adopted daughter was born and my body still acted kinda pregnant. I tried to nurse my new daughter and I'm not sure how much she got but she did swallow. I had taken vitamins and supplements as an aid, which made me feel too hot and smell like maple. I wish I had been more persistent. It is a bonding tool, both at the time and now as my daughter is older, she needs reassurance that I did nearly all of the Mom things for her like I did for my biological daughter. The induced lactation helped my body finish the pregnancy cycle that had ended with the miscarriage. I wish I hadn't let the pain of breast feeding stop me! But formula was a good second choice as it allowed Daddy and others to feed her and bond with her too!

  12. I don't know why this just showed up in my feed. Blogger is always slow on something.

    HOWEVER, I have heard stories of women spontaneously lactating as well as inducing lactation. Neither case was in benefit of a "baby" under the age of 18. And I can't go on without offending anyone.

  13. Such an awesome gift (or gifts, as the case may be)! And I am right there with you- the twins' immune systems held out pretty well in daycare right until they stopped nursing, so I don't think it's a coincidence! The good news is that they got over all the sicknesses pretty quickly, and have been relatively healthy despite all of the germ-sharing. Kids are a lot more resilient than we realize!

    And boo about the car!! Maybe just like the spontaneous lactation, you will spontaneously end up with a shiny new car in your driveway one morning??

  14. Lactation is possible in the absence of pregnancy--look up Prolactinoma. It also leads to infertility since the high prolactin fools your body into thinking it is pregnant.

  15. I am the hugest breastfeeding advocate in the world and still I don't think I would try to induce lactation if I was adopting. It sounds very complicated and stressful... and then sometimes breastfeeding in general is complicated and stressful... which is like doubly complicated and stressful... well, you see my point. I'd much rather spend that time bonding with my baby than worrying if my milk was going to come in. Just my initial reaction.

    And P.S. it's so funny how you steal the thoughts right out of my head sometimes. If it weren't for my sister taking photos, I would have no new pics of Molly for like the past two weeks! Unacceptable! Good thing she has a "second mommy" to document her life, haha.

  16. I love that so many people donated the milk to you for sweet Millie! If I was ever in the position I would certainly donate as well after reading how helpful it is to those who need it :) The cuteness of that photo is just too much!!

  17. I'm glad you don't regret your decision to induce lactation. There is so much pressure to breastfeed. I tried with both my kids and they just didn't get into it. After my last consultation with the lactation lady while still in the hospital where I thought she was going to rip off my nipple and squirt milk in my newborns face I hung up the boobs. I pumped for 6-8 months and then they got formula. The most important thing I found out is to love your baby and give them any type of food that makes them stop crying. I kid, but you know what I'm saying. That little face is well taken care of.

  18. How awesome that so many people donated milk! That seriously just makes me feel so hopeful about people in general! For what it's worth, both my little boys have been breastfed and not in daycare and we still have snotty nosed ALL winter long. As long as it's clear snot and they aren't acting sick, I just call it the wintertime crumminess (not a real illness).

  19. I wrote this really long rambly comment and then it didn't post...Grrr... Probably better that you don't have to read my nonsense. I donated milk with both my kids and it was a wonderful experience to be able to help other mothers. I actually have probably 30 ounces in my freezer that I just can't bear to throw out but don't really have anyone to give it to, ha. Drew is still nursing (I have no idea how to wean her because she is obsessed with milk), but we're WELL past the bottle the milk sits. Anyway, I am always impressed by how open you are in sharing your journey - it makes me remember to always be thankful for my blessings, and I am so happy that you have a blessing in Millie!

  20. Not sure if you're still drinking your gallon of water, but this article definitely makes a case for it!

  21. I've read this post over and over. I just love how you share all your feelings and are so real about all the "what-ifs." Parenthood is just one big journey of always questioning "Am I doing the right thing for MY child?" and often being unsure of the answer. I have so much more I want to say but I'll stop here. But thank you for this post.


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