Wednesday, June 27, 2012


At the risk of disturbing some of you, I am going to talk about my breastfeeding experiences.

Three friends and I are having a girls lunch; talking about topics that range from house floor plans to in-laws to our children’s education. Interspersed throughout are “female issues.” We touch on breast cancer, bladder control, vaginal exams, tearing during child delivery, epidurals, Percocet, and ultimately, breastfeeding, as we move toward the door to say good-bye. This last subject delays our exit another ten minutes as I mention the three year old boy drinking his mommy’s breast milk on the cover of Time magazine.

We all cringe in varying degrees. Perhaps my reaction is least because I am the only one who breastfed for a substantial amount of time. And NO, my children were not three years old when I weaned them; they were four.


“I remember watching a woman pull down her bra flap, her breast totally exposed, as she waited for her husband to pass the baby to her. I don’t get that,” says Pam.
“I didn’t breastfeed my children,” says Marissa, who jokes about the “frozen peas” remedy for pain.

“Me either,” Iris relates.

“I breastfed for a few months,” adds Pam. “I liked having my husband being able to bond with the babies, too, by bottle feeding them.”

Marissa says, “I’m fine with breastfeeding, but my friend did it while having cracked nipples. Why go through all that pain?”

At this point, I chime in because I am one of those women who had problems and pain with one of my children.

“That was me,” I admit. “Yep - I breastfed all three of them. Very hard to wean them. When you’re holding them, they throw their heads down, looking for it. They grab and pull on your shirt. I weaned my youngest by going to a funeral in Michigan without her. Still, when I came back, she remembered. It was hard.”

“Did your milk dry up?” asks Pam.

“No, it filled up day after day. I remember leaning over the bathtub squirting out milk; just like a cow being milked,” I said and demonstrated. “I had two big pieces of fruit on my chest and they hurt. I leaked, too.”

Pam, Iris, and Marissa laugh as they watch my theatrics in surprise.

“TMI, huh?” I say with a laugh.

When I think about Marissa’s question, about the pain that some have experienced, I take myself back to 1995 to ponder my reasons for breastfeeding.  I was pregnant with my first precious child; someone I wanted the best for. I read the books and went to the classes; and according to it all, breast milk was nature’s perfect food and it was going to limit ear infections and allergies, and add to his or her intelligence.

First daughter was born in 1995, and after a few frustrating days of learning how to get her to “latch on,” it was full speed ahead, with her thriving solely on mommy's milk for five months. I repeated “breast milk only” with Second Daughter and Third Daughter.

However, feeding Third Daughter was a problem for a couple months. I’ll just sum it up with three words: cracking, mastisis, and yeast.

“Ewwww…” I hear you out there!

So you ask, Marissa, “Why do it?”

(Her question is specifically for those who experience pain, but I will speak generally.)

When I think about it now, hindsight tells me that it wasn’t just the perfect food or health benefits, or what the books said – it was the feeling of doing something that just the two of us could do. The process of milk flowing from my body into the body of my children’s and making them grow was fascinating and an experience I wanted to have.
I know that baby formula is nutritious and that most bottle fed babies don’t have health issues based on drinking it. I knew it from 1995 thru 2001, too. I just wanted to do something that my body was capable of doing.

Women deliver their babies at home without any medication… regardless of the pain. People run marathons - 26.2 miles!... regardless of the pain. Farmers plow the land in the hot sun without certainty of producing an adequate crop… regardless of the pain. And women breastfeed their babies – at inconvenient times, enduring sleep deprived nights, and cracked nipples… regardless of the pain.

Can any of us explain our passions and desires to others who do not feel the same?

I enjoyed breastfeeding. The feeling I had during let-down as the rush of milk came to the surface, making my body sink into a warm state, urged me to sit and relax. I enjoyed the feel of the equally warm babies against my body, the satisfied looks on their faces,  inches away from mine, that led them to fall over, literally drunk from the milk. It is all God’s design - not mine.

So do I think all mothers - who are capable - should breast feed? No. Nor do I think that all women should have babies, or become mothers by adoption or any other means.

It just happened to work for me.

By the way, if you’re wondering – I breastfed First Daughter, 16 months; Second Daughter, 12 months; and Third Daughter, 17 months. Yes, that’s a total of 45 months (3 years and 9 months). If Time Magazine Lady keeps it up ‘til her son is four, she’ll have me beaten.

Oh, that’s right – she’s feeding "one" kid for that long! She broke my record a long time ago. :)

What are your breastfeeding thoughts, opinions, and/or experiences?

Monday, June 4, 2012


Bev is telling me the plans she has for her children this summer, which includes a visit to the grandparents.  As she describes the relationship her children have with them, I think of the fact that her children were adopted.

I am uncomfortable with my thoughts; wondering why I have differentiated them from children born of their mother’s womb.
When I leave Bev, I ponder the question and it takes me back to my childhood. I think of my first cousin, Andrea; how I was told that she “was adopted,” way back when I was in early elementary school.

It didn’t matter. There were no horns growing from her head or green spots on her face. She was the same cousin I’d always known.

In later years, maybe during my late teens, I noticed that Grandma did not speak of her when referring to her grandchildren; and neither did my father’s sister - our only paternal aunt - refer to her as her niece. I tried to figure out if it was due to her “not looking like us” or if Grandma and Aunt T. had issues with Andrea’s mother - the in-law.

Was that the root of my attention to who’s adopted?

My thoughts continue to hop from one adoption story to another as I drive the interstate toward home.
Doug is 48. He claims he wants to find his birth mother. A while ago, he gave me the name and number of a woman who works for an agency that deals with past adoptions; a woman he has spoken to. The agency needs a small administrative fee to get started. When I spoke to her, she asked why “he” did not call back, and suggested that he is not “really” ready to begin a search; that he’s stalling, using the fee as an excuse; that something is holding him back. She explained to me a series of steps to “prepare” him and the birth parents; that all sorts of scenarios could possibly exist. It was an eye-opener for me and I decided to let it go because I believed what she said; that something is holding Doug back.

I was introduced to Sandra during a walk with the girls and our dogs. She joined us a few more times and I learned that her children were adopted while we were talking about our pregnancies.
“Oh, you didn’t have to endure morning sickness or carry yours,” I said, making a small joke. And then, seriously, I said, “Oh, but your arms must have had a workout when the baby came home since you didn’t have the 35 pounds of extra weight to carry around to prepare you.”

“That’s right,” Sandra responded, as she added her stories of physical challenges due to her new 7 pound wonder.
It was a normal and natural conversation. No one took away points because she didn’t give birth to her children.

On the other hand, when another new friend told me her children were adopted and the reasons why, I was caught off guard because of the tone of her voice, and awkwardly said something like, “Adoption is a wonderful thing,” …and it is.

My friend Brenda is 55 and wants to contact her birth parents. She has requested, via an agency, three times. Each time, the birth mother said no. Because she knows a few details about her biological father, I’m curious to know why she doesn’t do some digging on her own. But it’s her decision; isn’t it?

One of my male relatives has a child who is in her 50s. She was raised by her mother’s husband, only knowing “him” as her father. The male relative does not want to contact her; does not want to “interrupt” her life. I wonder if she is out there looking for him.

Still driving along on I-95, I conclude that adoption continues to be an awkward conversation at times; that some still say, “Ohhhh,” when someone tells their adoption story. Does this happen more with same race parents and children? Are we more surprised because we did not know of the adoption in these families, as opposed to the white families who have adopted Chinese girls, South American children, or black boys and girls, with many people thinking they are so brave for doing so?

I do think adoption is wonderful and necessary. Like most things in life, it has its kinks and controversies, however, those elements are majorly outweighed.

What do you think? Do you have an adoption story to share?

The image above is the adoption symbol. The three sides of the triangle represent the birth mother, the child, and the adoptive parents. The heart represents the love that ties them together. This is the first time I've seen or heard of this symbol. I do not know its origin.