In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share my breastfeeding journey (don’t worry – this picture won’t be offensive anymore once I explain). After a grueling path of infertility, including 4 rounds of IVF in under a year, 4 miscarriages and then learning we’d need a gestational surrogate to carry my embryos if I wanted a genetic child, I was spent. Tired out and so mad at my body for all the ways I thought it had failed me (which it hadn’t but I digress). Once our surrogate, Cat was well into our pregnancy with my twins, I started to come out of my infertility fog a bit, allowing myself to finally breathe out and enjoy the experience. I soon remembered that I had heard of women inducing lactation so they could feed their adoptive newborns, etc. It all seemed a bit weird to me but those who know me know that I’m kinda weird myself, so I figured I’d research it a bit more. After reading and researching and getting tips from everywhere, I learned that it was in fact possible to induce lactation – but it wouldn’t be easy. Most women who do this take hormone supplements to help them produce milk – which wasn’t an option for me because of my laundry list of autoimmune issues at the time. My only option was to start pumping like crazy (I’m talking 8-10 times a day for 10-20 mins each time, kind of crazy) and see what happens. I called the local hospital in California, met with the Lactation Consultant who was so inspired by my story that she just gave me a brand new pump to borrow to get started (apparently you usually have to rent them). She asked for my cell number that first meeting and became one of my biggest cheerleaders throughout the process. I started pumping about 9 weeks before the twins were scheduled to arrive and within 3 days!!! 3 days!!! I was producing milk! Mind you – it was a teenie tiny amount, but it was something!
Fast forward to April 4th, 2016 – the date in this picture, that’s me feeding my newborn son, Reed, who was born via surrogate just moments earlier. My surprised, elated face is toward Cat, our surrogate & now my dear friend for life. I was in complete awe at that very moment (& then a few minutes later when it happened again with my daughter Vivian) and wanted to share my joy with the woman that gave me so many amazing gifts I once wondered if I’d ever have. Oh – and the hand holding my boob is another Lactation Consultant at the hospital in Idaho where the twins were born. The entire staff wrapped around me, Cat and the twins to help us accomplish some of the most healing, humbling and awe-inspiring moments of my life. A tribe of extraordinary women and breastfeeding did all of that. Pretty amazing, isn’t it!?
Mary Kennerly, Founder + Former Intended Mother