Birth Without … Me! {A Story of Adoption and Supplemental Nursing}

by Birth Without Fear on February 4, 2013

I had NO water breaking, NO contractions, NO C-section, NO vaginal delivery, absolutely NO pain whatsoever; and yet there had been a birth. My daughter was born and needed a tube-feeding right away.

Only it’s not what you think. It wasn’t for medical reasons. She was perfectly healthy. My baby and I were meeting each other for the first time. It was late at night. I was on an adrenaline rush and was not going to sleep. It’s a good thing too … I’d be awake for hours!

This was an adoption. She was the adoptee. I was the adoptive mom.

Although I’d not been pregnant, I had chosen to experience everything a mother does, from eating for two (smile) to adoptive nursing. It was NOW time to feed her.

Acting Like a Mom

My first decision as a mom was to nurse her at my breast with the aid of a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), a small tube-feeding system. A close, personal friend was my inspiration as she had done this with her adopted son.

I’d had plenty of time to prepare myself thanks to my Lactation Consultant, Karen Evon.

Karen contacted the hospital’s maternity and nursery teams ahead of time and prepared them for my adoptive-nursing. After birth, I was given a private office with a chair and promptly set up shop with my Igloo ice chest of breast milk. The nurses were curious and supportive, each one coming in to look over my shoulder or ask questions and offer words of praise or encouragement. Sixteen hours later after logging about 5 feedings, with the necessary legal papers signed, our daughter was discharged and we were on a plane headed home.

It Takes A Village

Four friends were pregnant and delivered during the time we waited for our baby to arrive. Generously, they’d offered to supply and freeze breast milk for our long-awaited baby. I affectionately called them my ‘Milk Moms’. Their donations filled my refrigerator’s freezer section with little storage bags of breast-milk.

We all bonded. One of those mothers delivered a day ‘ahead of me’ and I put her breast-milk to use first since our girls were closest in age. There was even colostrum to share. I rented an electric breast pump, a double pumper. She was relieved to have it when her milk came in and from that day on, produced enough for twins!

My husband played a huge part, granted, quite a bit different from the norm.

In addition to all the regular newborn tasks, twice a day he’d make a ‘milk run’ for that liquid gold. Later he would thaw out the little 2-3 ounce bags of that motherlode. I would put the SNS on like a necklace. The little bottle would hang upside-down like an oversized pendant, the small feeding tubes securely taped down. Voila! We were in business. When she wasn’t feeding, I would comfort-nurse her anytime she needed me, on-demand.

Mother and baby, we were connected

I was able to experience so much during those first, wonderful months. At nine weeks, I was stunned and completely thrilled to observe a droplet of milk coming from ME! I ran yelling through the house in disbelief! I immediately phoned Karen and she was at my house in no time. We were ecstatic! Before the birth she’d told me that producing was possible, but encouraged me to focus on the bonding and closeness instead, and gratefully I had.

Well, there in my living room, we were witnessing icing on the proverbial cake! The calendar declared it was Mother’s Day weekend. There couldn’t have been a more life-affirming moment for me. In less than 24 hours, my parents, grandparents, siblings with their spouses and children would be arriving to help me celebrate with a Baby Dedication at church.

Karen made arrangements to attend my daughter’s next paediatrician appointment. It was during that visit, after placing her on the scale before and after BREASTFEEDING, that the weight calculations showed I was producing about 30% of her intake! So amazingly sweet! The doctor wrote the astonishing notes in the chart.

Karen published an article about my experience soon after. I continued to breastfeed my baby until she was 16 months old.

That was in 1987.

The Present, With Presents!

Today, my daughter is a mother to two beautiful children, my grandchildren; a girl and a boy, homebirths, the last one, a feature of your Birth Without Fear blog entitled, “Beautiful (Surprise) Breech Home Birth” on October 9th, 2012. I am so proud of her and am enjoying this new phase of life as a grandmother.

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