This blog post was originally written for my blog Farlem. I felt it befitting to repost it here…
One of the most amazing aspects of my journey from Harlem to the Farm has been breastfeeding! I’ve always known the fabulous benefits of breastfeeding and just knew that when I had my babies (biological that is), I too would breastfeed! So when I learned that my husband and I both had Sickle Cell trait and also struggled with conceiving, my hopes of ever breastfeeding went out the window, so I thought.
When we made the decision to adopt again, I learned of something called adoptive breastfeeding. I quickly began researching induced lactation and relactation and soon enough I had formulated a game plan. I was going to nurse my baby! Breast milk is produced by the hormones Prolactin and Oxytocin both of which are secreted by the pituitary gland, therefore anyone – pregnant or not can produce breast milk to some extent. Crazy thing is…I’m a midwife, so why didn’t I remember this? I guess it’s that saying. You know the one. “Situations are different when they apply to you.” So operation…Get That Ninnie Milk Flowing was in full swing. I drove to my office and picked up a breast pump, bought boxes of red raspberry tea and fenugreek, and I was ready!
We learned of a teen mom who wished to place her baby for adoption and chose us to be her baby’s parents. We were ecstatic! It was already August and she was due in October so I had some serious work to do. I pumped and pumped and drank more tea than I could stand. My husband even drank a couple of glasses before he realized that it was my lactation brew! My older boys got in on the action too. They made sure I was pumping on schedule and frequently asked if any milk was coming out. I had never produced breast milk before, so each day I watched and waited but after 2 months, nothing. You can imagine how discouraged I was. I was trying to induce lactation, much more difficult than re-lactation. I gave myself a pat on the back and a good talking to and kept at it. Until…
The mother decided to parent the baby and the adoption fell through. The breast pump retreated to the somewhere deep in my closet and my teas, well they were abandoned too. Fast forward to the New Year. It’s late January, actually the last day of the month and I receive a call from a good friend of mine who is also a midwife. There’s all kinds of noise in the background. Initially I could hear someone talking, then as I listened closer I heard a baby crying. She tells me that she is with a mother who recently gave birth to a baby boy. She is dealing with severe PPD (Postpartum Depression) and has expressed a desire to place her son for adoption. He was 3 weeks old. After some very informative conversation with my friend and the baby’s mother, I left my home to pick up this baby who needed a safe haven while his mother recovered and decided if she truly wanted to place her child for adoption. Calling my husband on
the way, we prayed and thanked Allah for this blessing and tried to keep calm as we didn’t know for sure if we would be able to keep him as our own. When I met my friend she was holding the most beautiful baby boy! He was sleeping so soundly. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I met my husband and the boys. They cooed over him before I headed home with baby boy Elijah and Justice, one of our twins. My husband and our other boys met us at home.
After much discussion and hard decisions, Elijah’s mother decided to place him for adoption. We had our baby! I immediately started pumping and flooding my body with teas. I purchased the Lact-Aid Nurse Trainer System and was nursing my baby in no time! His birth mother pumped and provided us with breast milk and when she began to dry up, a couple of sisters I know donated breast milk so little Amir Elijah (we added the name Amir) only received that liquid gold! After 4 weeks, I had a few drops of breast milk and after 6 weeks I had enough to squirt! Yes! I was breastfeeding! I’m floating on a cloud.
Then the storm came. You see, Amir’s birth mother wasn’t forth coming. She was legally married and the father did not want to place the baby for adoption. So after 3 months, Amir had to be returned to his father. His birth father arrived on a Friday just as I was getting ready to nurse my son. My breast began leaking as he left with our boy. That was the last time we saw him.
Don’t be sad, here’s the shine…
After 4 months of sadness I began to feel better. I started smiling again, resumed my birth work and believed that I could possibly explore adoption again. My husband was awesome during this time. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know how I would have made it through. We began trying to conceive again. One day out of the blue I received a phone call from another friend who was sitting with a young mom and her husband and their 6 week old baby boy. They wanted to find a home for him. She thought of me and called. That was a Friday. My husband and I set up a meeting with them (the parents) and our Imam (religious leader). We met on Sunday morning and talked about adoption and raising their son as a Muslim. We came home with our son Muhammad that afternoon. You see, in Georgia independent adoptions are completely legal. We didn’t need an agency or facilitator. Just consent from the birth parents. I arrived home with him while my husband went to work. He was so small but so beautiful!
Once again I pulled out my breast pump and Lact-Aid nursing system and before you know it, I was nursing our son. What joy! He didn’t latch so well but we kept at it. His mother couldn’t provide breast milk due to the medications she was on and donor milk was not readily available. I reluctantly tried an organic formula but his frail little body rejected it. Next, I tried goat milk. His body rejected that too. I had to do something. I remembered reading somewhere about homemade infant formula. I found the info, thoroughly researched what nutrients my baby needed and began making his formula. In 5 weeks he went from a frail 7lb 6 week old, to a plump 10.5lb 11 week old. He was thriving!
This homemade formula thing was really working. I filled the Lact-Aid system with it and nursed my baby on demand. I eventually produced a few drops of breast milk but not enough to sustain him, so I kept on making the formula. Muhammad is now 9 months old and still loves his mama’s coconut ninnie milk! I make his formula daily, nurse him mainly for comfort and have a bond with our son that truly can’t be replaced. Oh…and this time the adoption was finalized! Our son is in his forever home!