A Mother’s Bond

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Raw. Beautiful. Real. Strong.

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This is adoption. This is bonding. This is motherhood.

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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.

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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,

Betsy

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Daxon’s Story: Hospital

Dear Daxon,

Mommy and Daddy started driving to Maryland at 7:04pm on November 18, 2016. Once we were on the road, we started calling all of our family members. While everyone was SO excited for us, they were also very nervous about us driving through the night. Daddy and I planned on taking turns driving and switching every three or four hours. I was so excited and wide awake that I ended up driving the first six hours, and Daddy drove the last six and a half. Neither of us could sleep. We each maybe napped for about an hour while the other was driving.

Maryland is an hour ahead of us, and your birth mom text us at 1:58am that you were born at 0100. (If you had been born in Iowa or Missouri, you would have been born at exactly midnight!) November 19, 2016. She told us you were 20 inches long and 7lbs 11oz. She asked if we wanted to see a picture. “OF COURSE!”

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The most beautiful baby I have ever seen. I couldn’t stop staring at the picture and studying every detail.

We got to Maryland around 8am. We checked into our hotel and let your birth mom know we had made it. She told us we could come see you as soon as we wanted. I told Daddy I wanted to see you as soon as possible! Well after a shower. 13 hours in a car. We needed to clean up a little. I don’t think I’ve ever showered and gotten ready so fast! We stopped to pick up some flowers and coffee for your birth mom (and Daddy – you know how much he needs his coffee) and went straight to the hospital.

Your birth mom was so incredibly sweet, and she let us hold you the entire time we were there. I couldn’t stop staring (and taking a million pictures!)

We left after a couple hours, and your birth mom told us we could come again that evening if we wanted. We went and took a nap at the hotel, picked up some food for your birth mom, and headed back to see you again. I loved you before I even knew you, but it wasn’t until this second trip that I felt a “mommy bond.” I was holding you. You opened your eyes just for a few seconds and scanned my whole face. “Are you my mommy?” I really, really hoped that someday I could tell you, “Yes. I’m your mommy, and I love you more than anything.”

We went back the next day to see you again. We knew we would only get to see you once that day because you needed to spend the evening with your birth mom and birth dad. You were going to be discharged the next morning, and we knew it was important for you and your birth family to have that time together. You were to be discharged around 11am the next day. That morning took FOREVER! We were so anxious to see you again! We got cleaned up, packed all of our stuff up (we were heading to another hotel with a 2 bedroom suite, so we would have a kitchen, living room, and room for grandparents), and waited as patiently as we could. Then we got the text that they were on their way with you…

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Yes. We were slightly bored and VERY excited. Then you were there. With us. In the hotel room. Ours to take care of.

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On Mommy and Daddy’s six year dating anniversary, November 21, 2016, you became part of our lives forever. What a beautiful present.

More to come on our adventures in Maryland.

Love you baby boy,

Mommy