Dear No One,
I have never experienced anything quite like the bond I have with Daxon. I have a lot of kids that I am close to (nephews, nieces, students, etc.), but I never knew I could feel even more love for my child.
I have spent hours studying him. Learning every birthmark. The color of his eyes. His (ADORABLE!) dimple. His fingernails. His belly button. Every roll. To me, he is perfect.
With the adoption, I was worried about bonding with the baby. I have a degree in child development, and I did a lot of extra studying on bonding and adoption. I decided that it was best for only Marcus and me to take care of his primary care needs. For the last 9 weeks, we are the only ones who fed, clothed, and bathed him. We did all of his diaper changes, etc. Also, I never experienced pregnancy, so I wanted to wear him. This is the closest to feeling pregnant that I will get with him, and I love feeling him snuggled up against me.
Honestly, though, bonding has been incredibly easy for me. I feel a love for him that I have never felt before. Anyone who has seen Dax around me always says, “He knows who his mommy is.” There is no better feeling. That his face lights up when he sees me. That I can make him smile more than anyone else. That he calms down as soon as I hold him. Nothing. Better.
Now for those of you who can’t handle a woman breastfeeding in public, you should stop reading. For the rest of you, I also bonded with him by using skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. No, I don’t produce milk. Producing milk when you haven’t been through a pregnancy is extremely hard. There are ways to do it by changing your hormones, but it often doesn’t produce much and takes a lot of time and effort. With all that adoption entails, I decided not to induce lactation. Instead I found two other ways to “breastfeed” to help make a secure attachment with him. First, I use my breasts to simply pacify him. It is no different than a pacifier. When he was falling asleep at night, I would offer it to him. The first time he ever latched on, I cried. I never thought I’d get to experience breastfeeding with him but nothing has ever felt so natural.
Second, I wanted to find a way to actually experience feeding him. Through my research I found the Medela SNS (supplemental nursing system), and I have been able to actually feed him. I wear the milk in a bottle around my neck and tape a small tube onto my breast. When he latches on, the tube goes into the corner of his mouth and releases the food while he sucks. It sounds easy. It is not easy at first. It takes time to set up (which isn’t always possible with a screaming, hungry baby). The baby has to latch, and you have to make sure the tube is far enough in (but not too far in to gag him!). You have to let some milk out to get him interested in latching, but the longer it takes for him to get a good latch, the more milk that ends up all over him and you. Over time, though, I got better at positioning and getting him to latch correctly. Not much in adoption is easy, but it is all so worth it, including breastfeeding. These moments have been so precious to me. So precious that I recently asked our photographer to take photos of it. I initially asked her to photoshop the tape out, and I wore a scarf to cover the bottle around my neck. Once I saw the photos with the tape, though, I knew I had to share them.
Raw. Beautiful. Real. Strong.
This is adoption. This is bonding. This is motherhood.
It is not easy. It is not for the faint-hearted. It takes work. It takes passion. It takes tears. It takes heartache. It takes love.
Not just adoption. Motherhood. If you are a mother, you know that you would do anything for your children. It’s not always easy. It’s not always pretty, but it is so worth it.
To the mom trying to conceive (yes I believe you are already a mom), I hear you. I see your tears that you cry alone at night. You are not alone. You should be proud of the sacrifices you’ve already made for your child. When that child does come, no matter how they come to you, you will look back and think, “It was all worth it.”
To the moms who are exhausted and never get a break, I see you. You are doing an amazing job. Don’t listen to any other mother or person trying to tell you how to parent unless they are simply building you up and praising you for all the hard work you do. Every day. Every night.
To the moms whose children have left home, I see you. You still don’t sleep soundly, and you anxiously wait to hear from your children every day. The children you raised to be hardworking, independent adults. Yet they will always be your baby.
I’m only weeks into this motherhood gig, but I know I’d do anything for my son. This is a bond that can never be broken. A mother’s bond with her child. Raw. Beautiful. Real. Strong.
All my love,