I’ve mentioned nursing Seth a few times in the past, but have been meaning to write a big bare-all (har har) post for a long time. So now, before I forget everything entirely, here goes. (You can read about the preparations and first days here, here, here and here, so I’ll pick up around then…Remember, this may be TMI)

Seth had been getting Aria’s, my and even some of Grandma Gale’s, milk, along with homemade goat-milk based formula, via the SNS and bottles in California. Aria’s willingness to give Seth her milk, and put up with some awkward hassles during the whole thing, was a truly amazing, and not the easiest, gift for her to give him. I’m pretty sure he drank the last of Aria’s milk on the plane, so when we touched ground in WA, we were sans breast milk. We mixed up a new batch of goat formula, and I don’t know whether it was the stress of travel, or going from a lot to very little breast milk, or what, but Seth had super weird poos the next day or two (if you could even call them poos – they were basically brown liquid). Upon learning that goat milk can sometimes be tough on newborns’ kidneys, we made the switch to store-bought organic formula. It was kind of annoying to mix up, as we mixed it up as needed, and then had to pour it into the SNS baggie to give to Seth. So we still had to wash bottles, the SNS’s, and throw away plastic bags. Once Seth and I got the hang of it, though, I realized that I could simply stick the end of the SNS that would normally go into the baggie, right into the bottle. As long as he wasn’t too squirmy, we were set! I did spill a bottle’s worth a handful of times, but this cheater’s method saved a lot of prep time, as well as cleaning.

At some point (I wish I could remember exactly when!), Seth and I really hit our stride. Todd or I could mix up a bottle lickety-split, I’d plop boppy and baby onto my lap, latch Seth on to me and the handy SNS straw, and we would be off to nursing bliss. We also comfort nursed in addition to feeding, and that was wonderful too. Seth and I had learned how to do this as a team, and he was patient with me as my learning curve was a bit more steep :] We also received loads of support and encouragement from Todd, Gale, Heather, Aria, Brandy, Holli, and our moms, among others. It really does take a village…to adoptive breastfeed!

I was still pumping occasionally while Seth napped; and pumping + nursing Seth every once in a while, though that was quite a lot to juggle at once. I checked on the girls in the shower nearly every morning, delighted with being able to produce mama milk. I could even squirt wee little streams of milk! I also got blocked ducts — not fun. But, in comparing notes with other nursing mamas, as well as pumping for twenty minutes only to get maybe .25 oz, I couldn’t help but be discouraged about my supply. I drank Mother’s Milk tea, took herbal supplements, and co-slept – what else could I do? I could point to three possible causes for this — Seth slept almost through the night (due to formula filling him up? or just being an awesome sleeper at night?) so we weren’t nursing around the clock, and/or I hadn’t been aggressive enough building up my supply before he was born, and/or my everloving hormone imbalance. Fortunately a number of people reassured me that he was getting more milk from me than I would be able to pump, and besides, it was more about the closeness than nutrition.

I got a really special present that first mother’s day from Auntie Heather that is a heart of my milk and a heart of Aria’s milk, cast in resin, and made into a necklace. A friend also helped on the nutrition front. A nursing mama had time and abundance enough to give us a number of bags of her “boob juice” (on top of tandem nursing – whoa!). Every time I defrosted a bag and gave it to Seth, I imagined it being such a special treat – like only ever eating fro yo or ice milk or something, and then getting gelato!

Despite all this good stuff, it was still hard. Maybe I was suffering a bit from post-adoption depression (sounds made up, but it’s totally a thing :/), or maybe feeling isolated as new mothers sometimes do, or whatever, but when Seth was around 7 months old, I started feeding him from a nippled bottle more and more. Todd or a grandparent had given him these, but I rarely had to this point. We had nursed and nursed and nursed, and then…stopped.

To be continued! Soon, I promise!