Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Liquid Gold


Bodily fluids have become a huge part of my life. Squeaks has produced her fair share. On occasion, you might hear me or Josh yell "WOW!!" from the other end of the house, signaling that we could use another pair of hands. But I must say, the particular bodily fluid that makes all these other ummmm....functions possible, has a special place in my heart. Breast milk. More specifically, the many donors; generous, strong, loving mothers, who have made it possible for our girl to be fed solely on breast milk since she's been home. That's right, we're a little over a week from Squeak's five month birthday, and she has not had a drop of formula since she's been in our arms. Yahooooo!!!

I like breast milk much better going in than coming out.
Our decision to feed Squeaks exclusively on breast milk is a personal one. There are emotional and logical reasons behind it. It was a simple choice for me. If I had physically carried and given birth to Squeaks, no one would question my desire to breast feed. With adoption I think it's a little different though. The question "Why don't you just give her formula?" has been asked of me multiple times. Before I get in to the response to that question though, I want to make some things clear. I in no way think mothers who give their babies formula are bad. I do not think formula is evil. If a mother chooses formula for her child, that is her right. Every situation is different. Formula absolutely has it's place in the world. In fact, there is a can or formula in my pantry right now, just in case of an emergency, and I am fully willing to use it should the need arise.

Based on my experiences, my personal opinion is that adoption is more difficult than pregnancy itself. You have to make a very conscious commitment to adopt. You work hard doing paperwork, studying, reading, praying, hoping, waiting. There's no due date and, while you don't experience the same physical upheavals (stretch marks, hemorrhoids, etc.), the emotional stress and excited/nervous anticipation is exhausting to say the least. And it could go on for years! After putting that much work into bringing your child home, wouldn't you want to give them the best of everything?! As stated before, formula is not evil, but it is not the best food for babies. Check the formula, some manufactures even say it on the can, breast milk is best. 

Formula would definitely be the easier choice. To go to the store and pick up a can or bottle, come home, quickly mix it with water, and pop it in her mouth would be very convenient. Finding breast milk donors, woman willing to pump and freeze extra milk, while still breast feeding their own child, hasn't always been easy. There have been days when we're down to 10 ounces of milk in the fridge and I'm seconds from opening that can of formula, but God has always provided. One specific day comes to mind. I could tell we were going to be cutting it close, so I prayed about it before bed. The next morning I woke up, made the last bottle I could, and started making calls, and scouring the internet for breast milk donors. By the end of the day we had 40 ounces in the fridge and plans to pick up a 350 ounce donation later in the week. This was not the only day like this. Not only has feeding Squeaks with breast milk satisfied my mother's heart, but it has also grown my faith and refined my ability to trust God's provision. Win win!!

A few people have asked how we go about finding donors. Make friends! Milk donation has been a lot about relationships for us. Reach out to your current friends and family, and let them know this is a goal for you. It's not as awkward as you think. No need to walk up to random breast feeding moms and say "So....you gonna use all that?" Simply telling people you want to give the best to your child and are looking for milk donors is all it takes. I am in a particularly convenient situation in that one of my best friends is a labor and delivery nurse, lactation consultant, and a member of a local breastfeeding club (yes, those exist). Not only has she been instrumental in helping us find donors, but she also pumps for us weekly (her son is a month older than Squeaks) so that Squeaks can have fresh milk. However, if you don't know someone personally, there are other sources as well. Facebook is an awesome tool. Look for breastfeeding clubs in your area. Go to La Leche League meetings and make connections there. Post to sites like Human Milk For Human Babies or Eats On Feets. There are lots of options. It will take work. We have driven quite a distance to pick up milk donations, become experts on packing milk in dry ice, and have our defrosting routine perfected. Squeaks is beyond worth it though, and I'm pretty sure every mother, adoptive or biological, would feel the same way.
Having her first bottle of breast milk.                                         Enjoying a morning bottle.

11 comments:

  1. We adopted too! She just turned 5 months on the 26th. Looking back, I really wish we had pursued breast milk. She had it from her BM for a few weeks but when we brought her home at 5 weeks, she was put solely on formula. She's healthy and growing like she should (like a weed really) but I really wish we were more intentional about it. I tried pumping in advance to produce myself but only got tiny drops of colostrum. So, I gave up. Sigh. Squeaks is gorgeous! Congratulations!!

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    1. That's awesome that she got that first milk from her birth mother! I tried inducing lactation too and got the same result. Some things just aren't meant to be. Congratulations to you as well!

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  2. This is so awesome! You are raising one happy and healthy beautiful baby girl! I love following you and watching you lovely folks on your journey. <3

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  3. I tried leaving a comment and I can't tell if it sent or not.. so if it didn't.. *deep breath*.... So glad she has breast milk, you guys are so blessed, lucky baby and lucky mommy, love love LOVE!!! <---- (That about sums up the earlier post..)

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    1. She's definitely a solid little girl. lol! When are you going to finish your series or formula vs. breast milk? I'd like to link to it when you're done. Much love to you and your family too. Can't wait to read all the new house posts!

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  4. I have to admit, I've always been insanely jealous (in the best sense of the word, of course) of you for being able to provide breast milk for Squeaks. I know that you've been through A LOT to get to where you are and I'm so happy that you're able to, I just wish so badly that I would have pursued it further. There is SO much pressure to use breast milk, and using formula is just another thing on the long list of things I feel guilty about. Our daughter has been diagnosed with MSPI, which means spending $60 a week on hypoallergenic formula. Not that she's not 1000% worth it, and she probably would have had the allergy even on breast milk. Just wish all the moms out there could support one another and not drag one another down. I love your blog. Keep writing!

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    1. You have absolutely NOTHING to feel guilty about! That is the exact reason formula exists. You're an awesome mom and your little girl is gorgeous. I totally agree, moms need to support one another.

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  5. I've been wanting to ask how you've found donors but was apparently too shy to do so - thank you for the great resources. I checked out all three and luckily they all have chapters in our state that look pretty active. I had no idea this was even "a thing," so I'll be checking it out for sure!

    We have nothing against formula, and it might be what we end up having to do if we can't manage an alternative through a network like you suggested. We do believe that breast milk is best, if it is in any way possible. For medical reasons, my wife can't do the whole forced lactation thing, and it's hard to do when you don't know when you'll get that magical call from expectant / birth parents. I'm glad you found something that worked for you and Squeaks and thanks again for sharing!

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    1. A lot of people don't know about milk donation.Crazy! Glad you found some local resources! I wasn't able to induce lactation either. You could always do breast milk and supplement with formula if you're unable to find a steady supply. Just an idea :).

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  6. We also went through adoption answer to adopt our baby girl this year too! She too was strictly on breast milk until she was 6 months old and I have got to say, she is one healthy baby with a great immune system! I am so grateful to those at HM4HB and breastfeeding cafe for being so selfless in providing something so valuable. God totally provided for her needs and I am so thankful! LOVING reading your blog by the way :) It's bringing back so many memories of being at the hospital and just how beautiful adoption is! Bless you and your sweet daughter. -Dawn

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  7. I think it is wonderful that you have found so many donors. It certainly does take a village.
    I hate to be a wet blanket (and I really hope I do not come across as such) but I feel the need to point out that one should not accept breast milk donations from anonymous sources without making sure the donor is healthy and free of diseases that can be spread through breast milk. Also, please note that certain drugs including nicotine and antidepressants can be found in breastmilk of those who partake.
    http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm?s_cid=cs_1011
    Most organizations screen their donors first for these issues and most breast milk is safe.
    I am sure you are taking every precaution for your baby but it is important for people reading to know that some precautions should be taken.

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