My road to motherhood was long but worth every ounce of strife to arrive at today’s joy. After the stillbirth of our son, James, in 2010 and the subsequent birth and neonatal death of our daughter, Josie, in 2011, our world was crushed. I chose to pump and donate my breast milk after Josie’s passing. It was a way to keep her spirit close to me while continuing to honor my motherhood. It also primed my body for breastfeeding subsequent children.
In a truly remarkable fashion, our second daughter was born and adopted into our family in 2012. After much research and medical advice, I chose to breastfeed her through induced lactation. Madison is lucky to have amazing doctors and breastfeeding advocates who are very knowledgeable about re-lactating and induced lactation. It is a protocol to “trick” your body into thinking you were pregnant and delivered a baby to produce a milk supply. It was amazing! To think that even though I had not given birth to my child, I could still provide half of her nutrition via my own breastmilk.
Eventually we chose to expand our family via adoption again. It took two and a half long years of waiting to get placed with another baby. When she arrived, she arrived with a flurry! We got a call on a Friday night in May 2018 that a baby had been born, and she was meant for us. The baby was born in San Antonio, Texas, so the next question was, “How soon can you get here?” I met our third daughter, Tessa, when she was 24 hours old. At a chubby nine pounds and with a head full of dark brown hair, I fell in love instantly.
After some urging from my husband and the support of a dear friend who was also inducing lactation, I looked into breastfeeding Tessa. This time would be different since our baby was already born. With a re-lactating buddy encouraging me, I worked hard to nurse, pump, and eventually get a supply. It is hard to describe how important breastfeeding has been to our family.
Tessa came into our lives swiftly and without warning, breastfeeding her has allowed me to affirm my motherhood once again as well as to bond with our new daughter. Yes there are nutritional benefits and valuable anti-bodies in the breastmilk, but that is only part of the story. She and I have a connection that is deeper than what is seen with the eye, it is also through sound, smell, feel, and taste. Tessa spent her first day not being held, so knowing she can be skin-to-skin and heartbeat-to-heartbeat, has seemingly brought her a calmness and attachment to me that is needed for both of us in this adoption journey. Her joy and happiness is visible in this session, it is the same joy and happiness she has brought to our lives!
Helpful links for local families:
Breast milk donation and sharing: www.mothersmilkalliance.org
Peer support after miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or infant loss: www.bereavedparentsofmadison.com