Friday, June 17, 2016

breastfeeding my adopted son

Warning: this is about breastfeeding :) If that's not something your interested in see you in a few days!!

My breastfeeding journey began just over 2 years ago with the birth of my biological son, Keaton.

Oh my goodness. Look at him so tiny with little kissy lips ready for a smooch!
I was a first time Mom and had NO idea what I was doing :) Thankfully, Keaton knew just what to do. After an hour of post delivery skin to skin, little mister found his way to my breast and started sucking on his own. It.was.incredible.
With Keaton I felt like I had the dream nursing gig. I didn't have any issues with sore nipples, latching, supply, etc. One episode of mastitis and that was it for my nursing woes. I will say that mastitis was pretty AWFUL!! I didn't know parts of my body existed until they started aching during that time. 

 I know many many women struggle to nurse. I went to a breastfeeding support group about once a week for the first few weeks after Keaton was born and heard story after story of women experiencing sore nipples, low milk supply, babies who couldn't/wouldn't latch, the annoyance of nipple shields, no support from name it and it was probably mentioned. I learned a lot and realized week after week just how grateful I was for the support and advice given to me as I transitioned into a full time nursing Mommy.

Keaton ate everywhere and got himself onto a really nice schedule right away. Nurse --> Play --> Sleep --> Nurse --> Play --> Sleep {also known as Baby Wise :) }

He slept just about as well as he nursed, so I had A LOT of milk that I was able to pump in the wee hours of the morning when my body was ready to feed someone and he was still sleeping. Kind of the best problem you can have when breastfeeding. As a first time nurser, it was super reassuring to see my body making so much milk. So I just pumped and froze and froze and froze and froze.

We had an extra freezer in our basement that was stocked full and that was a HUGE blessing because we knew that we wanted to pursue adoption within the next year and with any luck I thought it might be really neat to feed our adopted baby some of my milk using a bottle. It wasn't necessary and I wasn't going to be disappointed if it all had expired by the time we were chosen, but I wanted to keep pumping and freezing just in case. So that's what I did.

 You can read about our journey to adoption here and here :)

I didn't have any expectations for Keaton and I's nursing adventure. I took it one day at a time and when Keaton was just about a year old we were still going strong. He was nursing around 4x a day.


We got the call from our adoption agency telling us that we had been chosen by a birth mother! We were thrilled! A little nervous and scared, but still ecstatic that the time to grow our family had come so quickly. I'm not sure when the thought of actually being able to breastfeed our adopted baby crossed my mind, but I knew there was always the possibility.

On April 29, Penn was born and received formula via a bottle in the hospital by his birth mother. I thought it was wonderful. She was feeding him the way she could and I'm so grateful they spent those moments together!
Two days later he came "home," to our hotel. We had bottles of formula from the hospital and bottles of pumped milk in the fridge just in case....then it happened!!

I probably won't ever forget the moment I took my newest little addition and tried to nurse him for the first time. He latched on like it was his job and that was it. He had a bit of learning to do {all newborns do}, but I honestly could hardly believe my eyes when I saw him sucking away. I only met him a day earlier and here I was feeding him from my body - it was incredible. The women's body really is an amazing thing!

So now I was officially nursing a newborn AND my one year old. 

Ummmmm... it was kind of a lot.  So we transitioned Keaton onto whole milk from a cup and I continued to nurse him in the morning and before bed until he was around 18 months old. If we hadn't made the transition I would have been feeding a baby probably on average of every single hour of the day, or least that's what it would have felt like! hahaha

I'm still not exactly sure how my milk supply changed or how my milk changed, but it did. It wasn't always easy, but I just trusted my body would give Penn what he needed. He didn't gain the weight like Keaton did and we tried to supplement some with formula in a bottle, but he wasn't having any of it. He HATED the bottle. All bottles. All of them. So I just fed him as often as he wanted and he was healthy!

If I'm being completely honest, the whole experience especially at first, wasn't full of rainbows and butterflies like I might have made it out to be. It was hard work. I was just wrapping up a year of very successful nursing when I was thrown right back into the thick of it out of nowhere. 

Was I grateful?
Was I amazed at my body for being able to do it?
Was I amazed at Penn for knowing what to do?
Was the thought of having a baby on me 12+ times a day for the next 4 months exhausting to think about?

Ryan was a huge support those first few weeks! I think I was just so tired with 2 babies under 2 and wanted a break, but he encouraged me to press on and I'm so glad he did!! 

Penn turned one 2 months ago and is just now starting to seriously wean and take milk from a cup. He still prefers Momma's milk to anything, but I think it's time :) He'll still nurse morning and night for a while longer, but his sessions during the day are being replaced with cups of milk and table food. It's a slow process for him....I created what I can only call a "nursing monster" haha He just LOVES to nurse and I don't think is super excited about the idea of ending. We'll continue to take it one step at a time.

Penn, alone, was a huge gift to our family and then being given this opportunity on top of it kind of blows my mind. I know breastfeeding isn't for every woman and many try with no success, but it was one of those things that was important to me and I feel honored to be able to do it with both my little redheads! :)

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Jaimee Granberry said...

What a neat thing! So great you were able give your babies what they needed!

Bethany said...

Though I don't know you I've always admired your dedication to breastfeeding both your boys. Seriously I've mentioned it to my husband even in the past. It takes a lot dedication and to do that back to back with two babies...I can't even imagine. Good work mama!

Anonymous said...

Erin, You did a great job detailing the journey of nursing Keaton and Penn. It was not an easy job, however, you did a fantastic job! Those boys are blessed beyond words with such a dedicated, loving mommy. Rosanne

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