At the time of our daughter’s conception, we were living in Eugene, Oregon. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this region of the country, imagine a liberal college town where Woodstock attendees went to settle. Imagine tie-dye t-shirts, farmer’s markets, home-brewed beer, and peace signs. Lots of natural parenting. Breastfeeding is the norm in Eugene. Get the idea here?
We knew we wanted to breastfeed our baby, but knew that my wife Christina would have a hard time. She had a breast reduction in her early 20s that damaged much of her mammary tissue.
Awhile back I saw a story on Oprah about a women who breastfed a baby that she did not give birth to. A light bulb went off. I went Google crazy trying to read as much as I could to determine if this was possible. And wouldn’t you know, it was! It’s called induced lactation.
We worked with an awesome lactation consultant that was a local celebrity in Eugene. I followed the Newman-Goldfarb method and began the regimen of hormones when Christina was 4 months pregnant. The idea here is that you trick your body into thinking it’s expecting. When Christina was 36 weeks pregnant, I strapped on the Medela and pumped for the first time. The reality is that this “priming the pump” was incredibly painful. My breasts were sore and raw. I pumped every 3 hours, 24 hours a day. I set my alarm clock, waking up several times in the middle of the night. I would sit in a rocking chair for 10-15 minutes in the baby’s empty nursery watching YouTube videos of crying newborns, hoping for the milk to start flowing.
After two weeks of pumping, I got my first drop. It was absolutely terrifying and awesome. I was so determined to feed our baby. After a few days drops became milliliters…and then ounces.
Quinn came in to this world on December 3, 2013. A few minutes after her arrival in to the world, our daughter latched on.
We sat there in the hospital chair, she suckling away and me staring wide-eyed at this little being. Christina and I took turns nursing her. We nursed Quinn around the clock, but at her 2 week check up the doctor told us she had lost 10% of her body weight. We met with the lactation consultant to reassess our situation. Christina tried very hard to nurse, but she wasn’t making milk. And while I was lactating, I couldn’t make enough to exclusively breastfeed Quinn. Sleep-deprived and overcome with hormones, we sat there and sobbed.
After that appointment, we gave up on breastfeeding. I stopped nursing, but I kept pumping. A few weeks later, when no one was looking, I put Quinn up to my chest. I worried that she wouldn’t know what to do, but she latched right on.
We nursed, I pumped, we mixed formula. We did whatever it took. We were going to feed this baby. We continued on like this for 8 months.
Around 6 months, the world became incredibly interesting to Quinn. She loved to move around, look around, and get her hands on anything, including my face.
But after 8 months, one day Quinn looked at me and decided she was done. I was overcome by sadness nursing her for the last time.
Breastfeeding provided me a physical connection to our daughter that I will forever cherish. I’ve struggled with my body my entire life. Breastfeeding has pushed me to challenge my body and mind. Feeding our daughter has shown me that my body could be a source of love and nourishment.