Thursday, June 19, 2008

Breast May Be Best But Bottle Ain't Bad

I know this is VERY long post, but I promise there is a point if only to kill some of your precious time.

For some reason when you adopt, often well-meaning but ignorant people instill this fear in you that adopted children have "issues." Or that they have attachment disorders or never really connect and have meaningful or strong relationships with their parents. To them I say- do your research somewhere other than a 20/20 special. PEOPLE have issues. And yes certain things get to be addressed when you adopt, but that's a post for another day.

My point is... I was totally scared by the thought of not "bonding" with my child. I wanted to do everything possible within the first few weeks to establish a 'connection' and relationship with her. I was dumb in thinking that because I wouldn't be pushing her through the chute, I wouldn't feel the same "mama bear" protective instinct and would live, kill, or die to protect her. I've learned a lot.

I was never too terribly disappointed in not being pregnant. I dunno... nausea, vomiting, bloating, fluid retention, and varicose veins just never really did it for me. What I was sorry about missing out on was breast feeding. I had this idea of it being the ultimate mothering experience where baby and mother bond in a way not capable with anybody else. Isn't that what we public health officials preach? Breast is best, blahtey-blah. You're only a good mother if you breast feed, blahtey-blah.

As soon as our adoption paperwork was in, I began researching adoptive breastfeeding. I had heard of people doing it and knew it could be done, and I was hell bent that I was going to be part of that crowd. I met with a Lactation Educator, a midwife, I even called La Leche League. People I talked to thought I was totally nuts. But hey, it gave me something to do.

Early on in my research it became apparent that I would not able to induce a milk supply by taking hormone injections and pumping. Dang. No pumping four times a day with a commercial breast pump with nothing to pump. So I would need to supplement. And I would be using an SNS or suplemental nursing system. (Little spaghetti looking tube that gets taped in place, connected to a bottle and the baby actually nurses at the breast.) I bought the gyzmo, watched the video, even bought a nursing bra. I was set. I was going to be what Mary Cassat herself envisioned when painting her infamous portrait.

So the day comes. We're home from the hospital the midwife is coming to help and all the tubes and dohickies have been boiled. I thought...this is going to be perfect. My baby and I are going to bond and I'm going to breastfeed and life is going to be perfect. Not exactly. Sparing the details for the sake of you having something better to do than read all of this, not only was it not that easy but it got to the point where I was sobbing, my perfect little STARVING angel baby is screaming, and the midwife is tearing up. At one point I was sitting on the bed bawling, "I just want my baby to know I'm her mommy." It was awful. But like I said, come hell or high water I was going to breastfeed.

The midwife left, and I committed to continue trying and practicing. Over the next week my perception of the ultimate experience of womanhood changed. There was nothing glorious and maternal about it. It was stressful (for me AND my baby). It was hard. And it hurt. Does that lady look like she has road rash on her bosom? Because that's what it feels like. I had a choice to make. Give up my ideals of what defined me as a mom and just go with the flow, or keep beating a dead horse. I decided to let it go. She was getting formula anyway and I knew from the moment I saw her that we would have bonded and had a connection had she been dropped off in a space ship.

I was still concerned though about her growth and nutrition. But my concern didn't last long. Our Little Amazon baby is in the 100% percentile for height. I don't care how tall my daughter is, I really don't. As totally lame-ass as it sounds, her growing was an answered prayer and another testament to me that God is not a jerk that sits up in heaven screwing with our lives for the fun of it. What matters to us, matters to Him. I also learned that Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, hold our breath and hope we've set aside enough money for our kid's therapy” OK, that's not really all I learned.

We all have these ideals and pictures in our head of how life should look or things are going to turn out. Whether it's parenting, school, marriage, our careers- whatever. But often times they don't. It's crappy, annoying, stressful and sometimes not fun AT ALL. What I really learned is that mostly in life we just do the best we can with what we've got at the time and God makes up the rest.


cambridgeclan said...

I am so with you. Obviously different experiences, but similar feelings. We do our best. Our children love us and we love them. You've seen enough to know it's not all about genetics.

Crazy Me... said...

Amen. So True. God loves us.

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