Your Real Mommy

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To my surprise it had been a fun filled day with no trauma related meltdowns or behaviors. I was thankful. The sun was beaming in, the girls were looking at picture books on the couch and little man cub was pretending to win a heroic battle of some sort. I was mopping when I heard the unfiltered words effortlessly fall out of her mouth, “And see that’s your REAL mom.” 

 Those words hit my ears like a million pieces of glass piercing my weary soul and I stopped. I had to remind myself to breathe. I waited a second longer before turning my head, mop in hand and with a questioning tone said, “What did you say?” 

 Our eyes met; her dark brown eyes met my weary eyes and she fumbled for words. Two years into her adoption being final, those words somehow cut deeper now than they did two years ago. 

 “Real mom?” Why does that cut so deeply? Why do I feel like the air has just been knocked out of me? 

 To be totally transparent, it was only God that gave me grace to move towards my daughter. I was no stranger to words that severed the soul.  Sorrow and suffering had been very present in our call to adopt older children. My flesh wanted her to know the depth of pain those words caused me. 

 But Jesus. 

 I stop. I lay the mop down and I kneel down to her. 

“I love you” -a declaration to my own heart more than to hers, because sometimes we have to speak it, to believe it. 

“You have a place here. You belong. You are wanted” -a truth we are all really longing to hear.  

“I am your real mommy. I am also baby sister’s real mommy and man cub’s real mommy” -a promise that will never change no matter how hard things get. 

“I know I didn’t grow you in my belly. Your birth mom had that beautiful privilege and she will always be part of your story” - a truth we often talk about in our home. 

“You are my daughter. You will always be my daughter and you will always be part of this family…forever”- a reassurance that none of us are going anywhere. 

 Tears well up and for the first time, maybe ever, I see a genuine feeling being released. Sadness and thankfulness wrapped up in those big brown eyes and suddenly it was as if the light finally was showing through with every tear that fell. Instead of harshness, gentleness was present. Instead of anger, thankfulness. Instead of suppressing all emotion, she allowed herself to feel something real. 

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 Tears stream down my cheeks as I exhale. Baby sister comes running into my lap and man cub wraps his arms around my neck and my brown eyed girl embraces me tightly. I whisper, “I’m so glad I get to be your mommy.” For a moment in time it was as if Jesus wrapped His arms around all of us, filling us with hope. Hope that He indeed will make all things new, one day. The weighty stories, the broken hearts, the weary souls, He lifts and mends and makes strong. 

 This is what Jesus does. 

 He draws near to me in my brokenness. He meets me, face to face in my confused and misplaced heart and reminds me that I belong. He does not wave his nail pierced hands in front of my face, He simply reaches out and says, “Come.” He reminds me of my place in the kingdom and He declares that His love will never run out. 

 So tonight, I do not lose heart.Though outwardly most days I feel like I am wasting away, inwardly I believe I am being renewed.For these momentary troubles (as Paul writes) are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory, if we do not give up. So tonight, I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. I fix my eyes on Jesus and I hope today or tonight or whenever your eyes read this, you too are reminded to fix your eyes and your heart and your affections on the only one who can fill you with all HOPE and PEACE.

Adoptive Breastfeeding: What You Need To Know

Adoptive Breastfeeding Part III

I will never forget the look in the pediatrician’s eyes as she walked into our hospital room and saw me breastfeeding our 12-hour-old adopted daughter. She looked uncomfortable. She barely made eye contact with me. Then she asked, “I’m sorry, are you the birth mom or the adoptive mom?”

She was confused.

With a big confident smile I responded, “I’m the adoptive mom… I induced lactation to be able to breastfeed our sweet girl.”

She was shocked, with big eyes and a polite smile, “OH… I didn’t know you could do that and it actually work!”

When I tell people I breastfed our youngest they usually have a similar response to the pediatrician. I usually chuckle a bit and respond with a confident, “I know right? It is amazing!”

Adoptive breastfeeding is AMAZING! The fact that our bodies are able to produce milk for a child you did not carry is just…remarkable. So few adoptive moms (and even those in the medical field…obviously) know about this option, which is why I want to share how I induced lactation.

How I Began

I am attempting to keep to basic information, so I won’t spend too much time on all the details. However, if you are interested in knowing more because you are considering a journey down this path, please reach out! I would love to chat!

When we met our daughter’s birth mom we only had 8 weeks until our little one was due. We were not planning to privately adopt at the time but God had a plan. We were fostering at the time and had not considered a traditional infant adoption. But HELLO… I am so thankful we don’t write our own stories because His are far grander than I could ever dream.

With only 8 weeks to start the process I followed this Accelerated Protocol . This website is a wealth of knowledge on the issue of adoptive breastfeeding if you would like more knowledge on the topic. I took 20 days worth of hormones (a simple birth control pill) along with 20mg of domperidone 4 times a day. After those 20 days I stopped the birth control pill but continued the domperidone and began pumping EVERY TWO HOURS. Yes, you read that right. I pumped every 2 hours by day and every 3 hours by night with a double electric breast pump. Within the first week of pumping I began producing drops. Each drop was carefully stored, because I felt as if that breast milk was GOLD my friends!

By the time our little one arrived I had saved a fair amount of my own breast milk, which was really helpful.

I exclusively breastfeed our daughter the first 2 months of her life. As soon as we got home from the hospital I started taking fenugreek, a natural herb, to boost my milk supply. I ate a lot of oatmeal, stayed hydrated, and baked lactation cookies to continue to help boost my milk supply.

We had issues to overcome in the beginning like a tongue and lip tie that made feeding difficult but that was soon sorted out and she was nursing well and my supply was sufficient.

After 2 months the doctors were concerned our little bundle of joy was not gaining the weight she needed. We tried the Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) on the breast but she did not take well to the tube and honestly it was more work than I could manage.  

We started her on formula around 2.5 months due to the pediatrician encouraging us it was the best thing. Honestly, I wish I had gotten a second opinion. My supply was what she needed but the pediatrician felt my milk was not fatty enough for her. I began to rotate feedings, one on the breast, the next on the bottle. I continued pumping and storing throughout the day after comfort nursing her because my supply was still healthy. I would add it into the formula and continue giving her my breast milk through bottles as well.  

At 6 months my daughter was comfort nursing a couple times a day but I was tired of pumping. I decided to stop pumping. Having induced lactation with such little time to prepare I was very happy I made it 6 months with producing milk.  

I am so thankful we had the privilege of beginning our journey as mother and daughter so close and vulnerable with one another. I can humbly say our connection is deep and strong. I am so thankful we chose the journey of adoptive breastfeeding. Sitting on this side of having breastfed I can confidently report all the hard work was totally worth it!

*Please note I did consult my doctor and lactation consultant before starting this process. My doctor was open-minded to the idea of inducing lactation and comfortable with my plan.*  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

  

Bonding through Breastfeeding

A Note Before Reading: I am aware adoptive breastfeeding is not for every adoption case. I have two babies I did not breastfeed because of various circumstances. I do not think breastfeeding is the ONLY way to bond with your child, but I do believe it is an amazing opportunity if one is able. I am simply sharing my journey with our youngest daughter and spreading awareness of Adoptive Breastfeeding through these posts. I know some mama's who birth their babies are not able to breastfeed. There is absolutely no shame or guilt meant to be portrayed here if you have chosen differently or have circumstances that have hindered you from breastfeeding. I believe everyone's family story is unique and beautiful, I'm just sharing part of mine!

Adoptive Breastfeeding Part II

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She was here, finally.

It was late in the night. She was just minutes old. She had been wiped down, but still held evidence of delivery. The nurses had left the three of us in the dark hospital room to nurse and bond for the first time. As I cradled her 8lb body to mine those dark slanted eyes began to open.

 

There we were.

She stared at me and I at her.

We were connected.

We were bonded.

We were close.

 

She effortlessly nursed for 45 minutes and I could barley believe we were here. All those hours that went into having this precious, natural God-given moment seemed totally worth it.

 

As an adoptive mama I didn’t have the privilege of birthing my daughter. God didn’t write her story or mine that way. Her beautiful birth mom carried her for nine months, and then labored many hours to bring our daughter into the world. We celebrate this in our home. We welcome the fact God wrote our daughter’s story this way. We also rejoice that God allowed me to nurse her from the moment she opened her eyes. I cannot fully explain the deep attachment that takes place between a nursing child and their mama. God created it to be this way. I’m confident He designed it this way for far deeper reasons than a nutritional one, although that reason is enormous, for sure!

 

The deep connection adoptive breastfeeding creates is undeniable. The loss our daughter experienced at birth affected her and will continue to do so her whole life. As her mama, I wanted her to know from the moment we heard about her we were “for” her. We wanted the very best for her and we knew being emotionally and physically connected to us was crucial. My husband and I had cared for many children who did not have this connection at an early age. Children who were emotionally detached or those who attached to everyone they met because they had not experienced safe, nurturing and caring. We knew the hardships for children who were unable to bond deeply their first year of life. We wanted deep, safe connection for our daughter and chose to begin that journey through adoptive breastfeeding.  

 

Many who observed us as new parents probably thought we were a little crazy. The great extent we went to bond with our little girl that first year of her life was extreme by some standards. As we now approach our daughter’s second birthday, there are no regrets. The choices we made to bond with our sweet girl make the sacrifice seem small.  

Our deep connection is unyielding.

Our profound bond is immeasurable.

Our closeness is abundant. 

 

I can’t help but think breastfeeding played an enormous part.

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing to Breastfeed our Adopted Daughter

Adoptive Breastfeeding Part I

I’ll never forget the day we met our daughter’s birth mom for the first time. She was beautiful, quiet and stronger than she knew. My husband and I sat across the table from birth mom, her sister and her own mother. The sun was dancing and the trees were swaying. Onlookers would have thought we were friends catching up over lunch. Little did they know we were partaking in an earth- shaking moment that would change all of us… forever.

 

We had just met. Birth mom asked us that day to love, nurture and care for baby girl. We were shocked, humbled and overwhelmed with love for our daughter’s birth mom and soon to be daughter. I knew our daughter’s birth mom only wanted the very best for baby girl. There was a deep humbling that took place within me when birth mom looked across the table and said we were her answered prayer.

 

Us. We were her answered prayer.  

 

It was an earth-shaking moment that left us humbled… forever.

 

You know the kind of love that is totally selfless.

The kind of love that calls you to lay your comforts down.

The kind of love that is hard to explain.

 

A mother’s love.

 

That was the kind of love I saw in birth mom that day. It was the kind of love God began to drive deeper into my own heart that day.

 

As we started preparing for baby girl we only had eight weeks until her due date. We were doing a million things to prepare our hearts and home, all the while keeping our hands open, knowing anything could happen.

 

A thought lingered in my mind.

 

Adoptive breastfeeding.

 

I began to research and talk with other women who had successfully breastfed their adoptive children.

 

I couldn’t shake it.

 

Just like any mother, I wanted the very best for our soon to be daughter. I wanted her to have the God- given nutrients I knew she needed. This, hard to explain, mother’s love grew deep roots in my heart and I was determined.

 

I didn’t know if I could produce all of what she needed, but I was hoping one day soon my daughter and I would have the privilege of partaking in one of the most natural, God-designed moments.    

 

I began the most time consuming process to induce lactation. With each waking hour I worked to produce milk, God was working to produce in me a deeper love. He was beckoning me deeper into a mother’s heart those 8 weeks leading up to our daughter’s arrival.

 

As an adoptive mama I knew there would be great obstacles to overcome with attachment. I was not naïve to the hardships in connecting, attaching and feeling emotionally bonded to our daughter and her to us. I wanted these things desperately for our baby girl… and I wanted them for me. The bonding that would come from adoptive breastfeeding was worth the sacrifice for me personally. I had to give it a try.  We are created to connect. We are created to experience the closeness of a mother’s love.

 

The kind of love that is totally selfless.

The kind of love that calls you to lay your comforts down.

The kind of love hard to explain. 

Welcoming Motherhood through Foster Care

Welcoming Motherhood through Foster Care

After drinking deeply from the Word of God I take another sip of coffee. I have a few quiet moments before children wake and chaos arises. Why not check Facebook, Instagram or that blog with beautiful pictures nestled between words of “motherhood” and “healthy recipes”?

I begin to scroll. I pause at a picture of a dreamy baby room eagerly prepared by a loving new mom; “It’s a Girl!” I see those big pink bows and the delicate swaddles. Everything looks so perfect in the social media world.

I keep scrolling.