Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How I Fed My Adopted Daughter Breastmilk

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 " 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.
Enjoying a morning bottle. Gotta love the baby bed-head.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pictures, Pictures, & Pictures

My phone is out of room for all the pictures I take of Squeaks! I literally can't take another one until I delete some. She's only four and a half months! Who knows how many times I'll have to do this. Of course, I'll be putting them on our laptop for safe keeping first, and there are a few that will be on my phone for eternity. While sorting through them all, I decided I should share the cuteness. I might have already posted a few of them, but redundant cuteness is cuteness just the same.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Avocado Breast Milk Soup

Our girl is as healthy as they come. At her most recent check up she weighed a sturdy 16lbs 1.8oz and measured 25.2" long. I'm sure you can tell from the pictures I post she is by no means starving. She LOVES to eat, and thanks to our more than generous breast milk donors, she hasn't had a drop of formula since she's been home. Personal high five, fist bump, cartwheel!! 

I've been doing some reading about babie's first food, so at her doctors appointment, I asked if she's ready. He gave the green light to try testing her tongue reflex. If she wasn't ready she'd just instinctively push the food out of her mouth and we'd try again in another week or so. I had a feeling that she was ready though cause she's been eyeballing our food when we eat, following the fork from plate to mouth like it was the most amazing thing she's ever seen. 

I decided awhile ago, rice cereal wasn't going to be Squeaks' first food. There were lots of reasons for this decision, but this article sums it up nicely (I like pretty much everything on her site). So we're skipping the mush and going straight for the good stuff. Avocado! 

She was in a particularly good mood yesterday, and was just hungry enough that it seemed to be the right time for Squeaks' first taste of "solids"! I put it in quotes because it was really more of a breast milk avocado soup. I mashed up about two tablespoons of super ripe avocado and mixed it with breast milk so it was pretty thin. I was expecting her to spit it out or make weird faces, but she loved it! It dribbled down her chin a little, and she liked trying to put her hand in her mouth while the spoon was in there, but the majority made it in, and she ended up eating the whole bowl!  Josh took at least forty pictures and it was so entertaining that by the end we both agreed there should really be a Squeaks channel on TV to share this amazingness with the world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Second First Mother's Day

I call do-overs!!!

Not really. Mother's Day last year was not a happy day for me, but I was a mother nonetheless. Even though I couldn't hold my child I could still celebrate her existence and the fact that she made me a mother. My first Mother's Day with Squeaks was a totally different experience.

It's been very windy in Southern California the last few days. The wind is warm and dry, it's blown away all the smog, and the sky is perfectly cloudless and bright blue. Do you ever feel like the weather matches your mood? I feel light, cloudless, excited. While I remember my first Mother's Day (kind of smoggy), I can see much more clearly now. My second first Mother's Day was a beautiful spring day.

I woke up to my husband feeding our daughter. The sight of a grown man gently rocking a baby in the dim light of morning makes me weak at the knees. When she finished we walked into the kitchen where my husband had laid out my gifts. Flowers, candy, a couple of the cutest onesies EVER, and my favorite, a scrapbook from Squeaks. Josh made the first page for her, but in the future, I look forward to her filling it with her artwork and notes. I cried.

Our church does baby dedications every once in awhile. It's really more of a parent dedication though. It's a chance for new parents to get up in front of the church and publicly commit to raising their child to learn about Christ. Well Squeaks' dedication just happened to land on Mother's Day! I say "just happened" almost sarcastically, cause it was a God thing for sure. It was.....perfect. Our parents and Josh's sister stood up with us as we gave the child God has blessed us with back to Him. It makes my heart full to think of the day that Squeaks accepts her place in His family. 

After church, we joined our families for a Mother's Day/dedication celebration at Josh's parents house. As usual the swarm of excited family members surrounded my daughter. I love how much they love her and I love how well she sleeps after family gatherings. Talk about sensory overload! It was a ton of fun to watch our moms open their gifts. Workout shoes for Joshs mom, mass quantities of Washi tape for my mom (she's an addict), and both Grandma and Grammy got their own Squeaks themed scrapbook that they can add her artwork and notes to over the years. Happy tears!! It was a lovely day. I wouldn't mind doing it all over again.

I thought about Squeaks' birth mom quite a bit on Mother's Day. I went back and forth on contacting her but, after consulting a mutual friend, decided against it.  While I could be projecting my own emotions on her, I would have to imagine Mother's Day was a little difficult for her this year. Even tough I didn't contact her directly, I felt a need to express my gratitude. I never want her sacrifice and love diminished or forgotten. The beauty of the day made my emotions bubble over, and since Facebook is basically reckless, instant blogging, I unloaded. My post from last night:
"There's a mom out there who gave me motherhood. Now that I'm a mom, birth mothers are other-worldly strong in my eyes, and fill my heart with more amazement than I can comprehend. People told me there were things I wouldn't understand until I was a mom, and they were right. What a mind blowing, gut-wrenching, selfless, beautiful thing, to look past the desires of your heart to the needs of your child. I think the only way anyone could possibly even start to understand my gratitude to [Squeaks'] birth mom would be to open up my chest and look directly into my soul, because there are no words."
Truth, truth, truth. Maybe someday I can tell her in person.
My wonderful gifts from Squeaks and Daddy.
A few of my favorite ladies.
I love watching people open gifts I know they're going to love. Grammy and Grandma were very happy with there Squeaks scrapbook. Happy tears!

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