Friday, October 24, 2014

Harder than raising twins

I recently read an article that was titled "Twins are not hard". The woman, a mom of twins, went on to say that one of her friends who very much wanted children ended up dying of cancer before that ever could happen, which put her own challenges of raising twins into perspective.

As I read this article, I couldn't help but think of our journey. It's a poor comparison, but it made me think of the fact that infertility is definitely harder than raising twins.

Infertility is not life threatening, but there are days when the pain feels like it could smother you. It's a dark road with an unknown end. It leaves you emotionally and mentally drained, stealing sleep and replacing it with tears, stealing happiness and leaving depression in it's wake. Allowing for moments of hope only to be dashed with the words "not pregnant".

Raising twins is certainly not easy, especially in the early months. It's physically and mentally exhausting, but the exhaustion is different than that of infertility. It comes with a great amount of joy and happiness that far outweigh the frustration and exhaustion even on the toughest of days. You can be completely drained and think that you have nothing left to give and then your baby smiles at you or giggles when you kiss his belly.

Eventually I was able to find joy, even in the midst of infertility, but the pain was always lying right below the surface, waiting to rear it's ugly head when reading the next pregnancy announcement on Facebook. I still lived in a perpetual state of waiting for the day that it would be our turn and struggling to be content in the present just being the two of us, something that I now see was a true gift.

Now, my heart feels full. I am content and for the past 6 months, I haven't felt like there was a hole in our family. My tears of sorrow have been replaced with tears of joy as I raise our sweet baby boys. I haven't thought of us as being infertile in the last 6 months, now we are just parents. Would I love to sleep through the night every once and awhile? Of course, but really, it's a small price to pay to be "mommy".

Raising twins comes with challenges, but when put into perspective it is not hard, it is a true blessing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Adoptive Breastfeeding

Oh adoptive breastfeeding. This is a topic I have wanted to write about for a LONG time, but there was always something else on my mind that took precedent. If you are in any way uncomfortable with the topic of breastfeeding, this is not the post for you. First of all, I know many of you are thinking "what? I didn't even know that was possible". Yes, it is possible to induce lactation without ever giving birth, however it is not easy. Long before we knew about the twins, I knew I wanted to breastfeed our adopted child. I joined a Facebook group and began learning about different ways to go about doing this. Some woman took meds, others just pumped and used herbs, some followed a "protocol" that has been written up for this purpose. Some woman induced before being matched with a baby, some started when matched and others waited until they had a baby in their home.

I fell into the third group even though I kind of wanted to fall into the second group, but didn't out of fear and being unsure if I wanted to take meds or not. At the end of the day I started taking meds and herbs and using a Lact-Aid, which is a supplemental nursing system that allows moms to nurse at the breast through a thin tube that runs along the breast and attaches to a bag full of milk. I was so excited to get started, but I had no idea how challenging this would prove to be. Asher had trouble with the Lact-Aid, so we relied on bottles initially for him. Lucas had no problem at all with the Lact-Aid, but for whatever reason, I found it more cumbersome to clean than bottles and often times in my exhaustion and haste, reached for whatever was quickest. I also didn't have a nursing cover and we were around people often enough that I was insecure and once again relied on a bottle. Lastly, if the babies were hungry at the same time and I was alone, I couldn't master nursing Lucas and bottle feeding Asher at the same time, since no baby should be fed laying on his back, but especially not babies with Down syndrome. I began producing drops of milk, but felt discouraged that I wasn't dedicated enough to use the Lact-Aid at nearly every feeding. 

Looking back the ways to remedy this would have been to get 5-6 Lact-Aid trainer systems so that I could prep them ahead of time and wash less frequently and it probably would have been beneficial to work on inducing ahead of time. 

All of that being said, we were incredibly blessed to have not only our boys' Momma Kate pump for us, but we have also had several other amazing women donate breastmilk so that we are still able to give our boys half formula and half breastmilk at every feeding! This may sound crazy to some, but for us, it has been an awesome gift, especially when Lucas couldn't tolerate any formula that we tried. 

In addition, while I may not have been able to give my boys much more than a few ounces of my own milk, I have been able to give them the gift of comfort nursing and that has meant almost as much to me as being able to breastfeed them, and for that, I am incredibly thankful.