Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Believe in Unicorns...


Over the last few years, leading up to meeting Baby Mateo, I'd learned a lot. I'd learned about the whole process of surrogacy. I'd learned about the development inside the womb. I'd learned about the whole IVF procedure and so many things related to assisted reproduction. I'd started learning about what to do and expect once baby was here. One thing I wasn't expecting to learn about was breastfeeding.

If you've been reading our blog since the beginning, you know that I've dreamt of nursing my own baby. It's something I'd always envisioned, even as a young girl, but over the years began to accept that it was not going to be a part of my experience. However, through the journey I started hearing about these adoptive and intended mothers successfully nursing their babies, in some cases even exclusively breastfeeding, and I was once again, given a glimmer of hope towards something I'd thought was impossible.

A few years ago I'd been introduced to the concept of inducing lactation and breastfeeding without birthing, through a blog I'd been following. My jaw dropped as I read about her experience and I just couldn't believe it! She was like a unicorn! Was it possible for my body to provide nourishment for our baby, a baby whom I didn't carry in my womb???

I toyed around with the idea during the early part of our surrogacy journey, but I was so overwhelmed with the whole process when we were in it, that I kind of just put it on the back burner. In March of 2015 I began to follow the accelerated protocol which I'd researched through books, articles, blogspodcasts, and support groups, all dedicated to educating and empowering women to believe in their bodies. In the beginning, it was difficult to find support from my current doctors, as they also thought these mothers were just unicorns. But I found a lactation consultant, and thankfully a couple of the nurses I'd met along the way were willing to help. But I have to say, it really came down to my own determination and insistence that I was going to be my own best advocate.

lactation cookies!
When starting out, I was doubtful. It was stressful.  Right in the very beginning though I got a pretty incredible boost of support. An amazing friend of mine reached out to other breastfeeding mommy friends, some who I knew and others I'd never met, and in a special book (The Big Book of Boobies), they shared with me their special moments, biggest hurdles, and words of wisdom in regards to breastfeeding. (She also gave me a nursing tank, nursing pads, a vintage nursing book, milk bags, and some Mother's Milk Tea!) Needless to say, I cried reading through the stories which provided me with a huge sense of hope and renewed motivation. In all cases the consensus was, it wasn't going to be easy, but it would be worth it.

Right around this time I began the pumping part of the protocol. I began pumping at home, at work, in the morning, in the middle of the night.... I was hooked up to a machine every 2-3 hours. And for the first couple of days, there was absolutely no result.

The box my pump came in. lol.

But I will tell you, the second I saw that first single drop of milk fall from my breast, it was like seeing a unicorn fly over a double rainbow... into a pot of gold. Seriously. I cried and maybe squealed with excitement a little.
On the day Mateo was born, the fact that I was able to not only get skin to skin time, but have him latch on and nurse, was more than I could have ever asked for. In those first few days, I was able to provide him with his basic need. I was making just enough at that time (since newborn babies' bellies are so tiny) and that felt amazing. Seeing the doctors and lactation consultants come by to visit, just to sing praises for what we were doing really boosted my own confidence and made me feel that my efforts had been worth it.

Over the last 4 months, I've been able to continue nursing (though I was never able to produce enough to exclusively breastfeed) and I've been able to experience this amazing side of mommyhood. I still nurse before most feedings and in between feedings too and I am just thankful to have gotten this far. My goal was 3 months, and I will continue as long as my body decides to cooperate.

Day 4. First drop of milk on the mouth.

I will be the first to say, "Fed is best," and to give baby what he needs any way you can get it. At the hospital, we began supplementing with formula after each nursing session and have continued to give him formula, as needed. Tina was able to provide milk for him for the first month of his life. In the hospital room we were "pump buddies" and it was just so amazing that she was able and willing to do that for him. We have also been blessed with dear women in our lives who have donated breastmilk to Mateo since then. It really does take a village and I am so thankful for these mommies who were willing to share their stash and help to nourish our baby boy.
about 2 months in... not sure how much you actually drank....

Today I took my last dose of one of the key components in being able to make milk. I have mixed feelings and am sad to think it could stop. But I'll continue to take some supplements and eat lactation-friendly foods, and my heart is thankful for the time that we've had. Having not been able to grow him in my belly, it has been an absolute honor to be able to bond with him and provide for him in this way. We will continue to bond with and nourish him in a million different ways going forward. I'm so, super grateful for all of the support that we've had for this part of our journey.

Thank you for believing in unicorns.

After 4 weeks, I shared an update with a mommy group.

"Mateo, you are not picky when it comes to eating. But you take it very seriously. I didn't know what "hangry" meant, until I met you. Every day we're shocked at how much you've grown. But we're happy to see each new roll and to see you healthy and thriving." 
---a letter from an excerpt to our baby

At 4 months, Daddy is trying to get you to feed yourself.... 

These are some of the questions my friend had people answer. Now, it's my turn.
1. How long you nursed... 4 months and counting
2. Places you've nursed... in a restaurant, in a mommy group, walking down the street...
3. Things your little one does while nursing... he scratches the side of my back, plays with my shirt, wiggles, pops off and looks around, looks at me, smiles, naps (or pretends to...)
4. Moments you were so thankful to be able to just whip out a boob... in the middle of San Francisco, during a hunger meltdown, we didn't have a bottle and I loosened up the wrap he was in, and walked down the street with him attached. It was the first time I'd done it in public.
5. Pumping Experiences... I'm still pumping away. Even though it's very little, I'm always reminded that any little bit I make is basically a miracle. It gets a little exhausting, and I don't do it as often as I should anymore, but the fact that I'm still producing is amazing.


  1. All I can say while tears of joy are streaming down my cheeks are " I lover you & you are AMAZING" I'm so proud of your determination, Mateo is so extremely blessed to be able to call you mommy & and am beyond blessed to call you my friend. I love you guys so so much! ♡xoxo♡

  2. I am crying over here!! You are such an incredible woman and mother. I just.... yeah, I don't know what else to say. <3 <3

  3. That is amazing! Thank for sharing, that is absolutely beautiful. I breast fed for almost 2 years. The best way to bond with your child and so much better for them.

  4. Erica you are doing a marvelous job. I have the same situation as you and breastfed bet child as well. YOU GO GIRL


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