One of the things I found interesting about the book was that ultimately, IVF didn't work for the author, either. She also went down the adoption pathway, and for her it was fairly twisty (not unlike her IVF journey). However, she said something interesting in the Telling My Story chapter:
"While I'm thrilled to be a mother and even had the unique experience of inducing lactation and breast-feeding our adopted child (I induced lactation and pumped [and froze] breast milk for months for David and then relactated for the little boy we named Theo, and then successfully breastfed him for three days), I will never entirely heal from my miscarriages."
Did you catch that? She said that she was able to breastfeed babies that she did not give birth to.
That blew my mind. I didn't think such a thing was possible. And then I filed it away, thinking it wouldn't ever apply to me.
As Bryce and I made our decision to end infertility treatments and pursue adoption, that possibility lingered in the back of my mind. As I added adoption-related pins to my Pinterest board "One Day Our Dream Will Come," I started to add pins on inducing lactation, articles from women who did it successfully, ways to do it without medication, adding SNS systems to supplement nursing at the breast with breastmilk or formula. I started researching the Newman-Goldfarb protocol to increase milk supply. Because apparently, a strange fact that I did not know, just pumping every 2-3 hours will actually cause you to start producing milk. It just may not (probably won't) be enough to breastfeed exclusively. The Newman-Goldfarb protocol involves taking a progesterone-only pill such as Provera (or an estrogen-progesterone combo birth control pill, if you are under 35, so no go on that one for me) in combination with a drug called domperidone, which is actually meant for GI stuff but has the side effect of creating lactation and increasing supply. There's also all these herbs that can help, like Fenugreek, and Blessed Thistle, and Goat's Rue, all things that are in these handy dandy Nursing Teas you can buy from Amazon.
Honestly, it was all a little overwhelming, but then there was also a short article in our Adoptive Parent Education Manual from our agency where a client successfully breastfed and thought it was an amazing experience. And I have friends who are lactation consultants, and they were thrilled to see these pins show up on my boards, and were all gung-ho about sharing their resources with me and encouraging me to do this amazing thing for my hazy-on-the-horizon FutureBaby. The LaLecheLeague also has a lot of resources, but sometimes I find them a little strong in their opinions and persuasive approach.
So initially I was really, really excited about this. Sure, I wouldn't get to be pregnant or give birth. But this experience didn't have to exclude me... I could nurse our baby and gain back a biological function of my body that my infertility had managed not to destroy.
I am kind of torn. Because this could be either a really great way for my body to redeem itself, to show its use in supporting tiny life, just in a different way than I'd envisioned... or it could be one more way that it fails me.
Because... get this... I also came across research that PCOS can make it really hard for women to breastfeed, in some cases pretty much impossible to have more than the frustratingly tiniest of supplies. It could be just fine, or it could be an awful no-go. And my PCOS has not been particularly friendly to me so far (because PCOS doesn't have to mean hideous infertility issues, but it can also be one nasty nail in your conception coffin). So I'm not all that optimistic that it would go the friendly way in this arena, either.
And, this is a lot, I mean A LOT of time-consuming, strangely-fertility-treatment-esque work to get that supply to do its magic. Pumping 2-3 times a day is no joke. I am pretty sure that I can't do that and teach at the same time, considering that I usually have time to PEE maybe once in a 6-hour period and am often still eating my lunch when I start one of my classes. I can make an educated guess that it would be fairly traumatizing to pump under a hooter-hider while setting priorities for the day and checking agendas. I don't think that would go over well, with anyone involved. Plus all the drugs...while both the progesterone and the domperidone are pills, not injections, it's still putting things into my body that are foreign and have side effects. And all the herbs and teas and restrictions on my diet... I don't mean to sound selfish here, but I feel like I've put my body through a lot, a LOT, and been on restriction after restriction without
I know that the whole breastfeeding versus formula feeding issue is incredibly polarizing. I am not saying one is better than the other, but I also need to look at our personal situation carefully, weighing all the options and their associated benefits and detriments.
Such as, when would I start all this pumping nonsense? Randomly, before we are matched? Wait until we are matched and then pump away and hope that the situation gives me enough time to produce the milk necessary? What if the match falls through? Then I am left with no baby and leaky breasts, which would seem to magnify the loss. Do I wait until after things are final? What about this "nipple confusion" thing I hear about? Will it be for nothing if I start with formula first and THEN supplement with breastmilk? What about if I do start ahead of time? Do I take time off from teaching to make this work? When would I decide to do this? I need my FMLA for the actual maternity leave, since (other post in the works) I do not get paid maternity leave beyond 5 days plus any of my 3 personal days that I haven't used up on adoption-related trips or business... so how would we afford that?
And really, how am I going to feel if my body fails me ONE MORE TIME? Will I be able to concentrate on bonding with my baby if I'm sitting there, rocking on the glider, talking to my breast and willing it to lactate more, begging this beautiful new baby to latch on to a boob that doesn't emanate the hormones of a momma who just gave birth? Will the focus be on my baby and the bonding experience, or on the breastfeeding experience and everything I need to do to get there? Will it be like focusing on the wedding instead of the marriage, everything about the dress and the flowers and the music and getting everything perfect but not thinking about the actual relationship that's going to be solidified and celebrated? Kind of seems that way to me.
It would be wonderful, WONDERFUL if I could get this to work. If it could all come together smoothly without causing a nervous breakdown. I would love to breastfeed our baby. I would love to sit on that glider, like any other new mom, and nurse our precious new infant. But at what cost?
I think I will run all this by my OB/GYN, see what their experience has been with all this. Also look into maybe having some sort of imaging of my boobles, because apparently PCOS people with poor supply have very little glandular tissue in their breasts. They can be generous, as mine are, but mostly fatty tissue with very little milk production gland structure to be seen. Maybe that would help make things a little more clear-cut. Of course, I don't even know if they would do such a thing.
It's a tricky balance, to "give the precious gift of breastmilk" to my baby, as one website so persuasively put it, without also receiving the gift of frustration, anger at my already abused body, and desperation to make something happen that just may not be possible for me. Is it better to try, or to just make peace with bottle feeding formula and enjoying a bonding moment that both Bryce and I can have, equally? One person has brought up donor milk, which is interesting and also has that whole both-of-us-bottle-feeding aspect, but I just don't think that that is right for us. Which is hilarious, because donor gametes were just fine, but there's a lot of careful regulation with sperm and eggs, at least in our experience, whereas the donor milk thing can get sketchy if it's not coming from a known source close to you. THERE IS JUST SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT.
If you considered or attempted induced lactation, how'd it go for you? What went into your decision-making? When did you decide to stop if it wasn't successful, and what did it take to have it be successful if you were?
Also, as I already referred to this as a polarizing topic, I would appreciate comments that do not judge me for my choices (or inability to choose), but rather give information and are helpful or supportive, in either direction. Just don't be a doodyhead, pretty please and thank you.