Today is my birthday. The fact that we are finally expecting our two babies makes this year’s birthday super special.
But, this is not what I want to talk about. Today, I want to talk about breast milk.
One of the topics that was discussed during our interviews with surrogates was pumping breast milk for the babies. At the time, Annie said yes to pumping, although she has never pumped before for her children and breastfeeding wasn’t that successful for her. She said she would try her best to pump and was also quite insistent on me trying to induce lactation.
I did my research on induced lactation and talked to my friend who used a surrogate and nursed her twins for two months following induced lactation. After reading a book on this topic and serious consideration, I made a decision not to breastfeed. I believe that I will bond with my babies without nursing them and feel that this is the right path for me. It is a very personal decision that one has to make for themselves. I am aware that this is a very sensitive topic. Recently I have received my fair share of mean comments regarding my surrogacy journey so I want to make it clear that this is my decision to make and I would appreciate readers to keep their negative comments or opinions to themselves.
Throughout the pregnancy, it had been my understanding that Annie would not breastfeed the twins at birth but she’d pump for them as long as she could. After our 28 week ultrasound last week, she wanted to chat with me on the phone about breast milk. One night last week we finally found the time to do so. She told me that after praying about it for the last two months, she decided not to pump for the twins. Given how difficult this pregnancy has been for her, she would like to heal as soon as possible after birth and go back to being a mom to her kids. Since she has never pumped before, the thought of pumping every few hours, storing the milk, packing, and mailing it sounds very daunting to her. She had felt very guilty about it because she wanted to do what is the best for the twins, but she also needed to do what is best for her and her family as well.
My initial reaction was disappointment because this new development wasn’t what I expected. At the same time, I could understand where she was coming from. I know that breastfeeding is not easy. Many women live a guilt ridden life because of difficulty breastfeeding their children. Pumping for someone else’s babies is a lot of work and can be stressful. I know some people take the position that breast is best. Breast milk is wonderful. But I also believe that it’s perfectly good to give our babies formula. I don’t want me or Annie to feel guilty for not being able to provide breast milk for the babies. After my initial disappointment, I feel fine about it now. I did request for Annie to pump or hand-express colostrum after birth. She said that she would do whatever we ask her to do during her stay in the hospital. She mentioned that a fellow surrogate in her support group offered to pump for us. I know that I have to be careful with unscreened donor breast milk so I need to do more research on that.
I wrote Dr. E about the situation and asked how many days Annie should try to give us colostrum. Dr. E said if it were her, she’d skip the colostrum and get skin to skin with the babies and bottle-feed them. She said that she bottle fed two babies and breastfed two babies. And to her, there was no difference whatsoever. She didn’t want me to feel even an ounce of guilt at all. She said that if we want, we could always buy from a bank. She also has a local carrier who is 12 weeks pregnant now. This carrier doesn’t want to pump for the family for personal reasons but she plans on donating her breast milk to a bank anyways. Dr. E said that she could always ask this carrier to pump for us if we would like. We would have to find an alternative way before this carrier gives birth to her surro-baby. But it is an option for us.
So this is where we stand. I will explore the possibility of getting breast milk from a bank or from a known or screened donor. We will also try formula with the babies and see how they do. I am glad that Annie told me this far in advance so I can get myself mentally ready for what to do when the twins are born.
Again, I know this is a controversial and sensitive topic that many feel strongly about. So, I would appreciate your support for us as this is not the place to assert your position on this topic. Kindness goes a long way and it is welcome here.