Mom Induces Lactation for Adopted Son | Montse TerMarsch

Mom Induces Lactation for Adopted Son | Montse TerMarsch

Mom Induces Lactation for Adopted Son | Montse TerMarsch

Thanks for joining me today. My name is Christa and we are at MomTalks with Christa here today, I'm so excited. We have a very special guest. We have Montse here and she's going to talk all about her adoption process and also into inducing lactation and breastfeeding to small children at the same time and we actually connected over Instagram story talking about inducing lactation. And so, many people had questions about it and she reached out and said she was able to do it. So, we kind of wanted to dive into that a little bit more. And so, thank you for coming on the show. I'm so excited you're here.

Montse: Thank you so much for having me on your journey with everyone.


Christa: Yeah, awesome. So let's just get started. Can you just tell us a little bit about you? And then we'll kind of go from there.

Montse: Yeah, my husband Kyle and I have been married for six years this week. We have two small children, two dogs, and we're going on our seventh home the past six years. So we're hoping that now we are settled where we're at. We're hoping that this next year of marriage, we don't have any moves the big life changes again because it's been quite the roller coaster.


Christa: Awesome. So you have this awesome story about your two children. And first, you kind of talk about an unexplained fertility, explain fertility issues and trying to conceive and then you end up going through an adoption process. So, can you talk a little bit more about this journey and kind of what brought you to where you are today.

Montse: Before I got married, we had had a long conversation about what our family what we hoped our family would look like and we were pretty set on having a family fairly quickly and having a big family. And we had talked about wanting to have biological children wanting to do adoption, we played around with VIP foster care and really, we're just really open with each other about the fact that we wanted to have lots of kids, and we didn't really care how they came to be in our lives, we just wanted to be parents. And so, that was kind of going into our marriage. We knew we want to be parents and we just kind of anticipated that that would look a little different looking, we thought we would have some biological children and then when they got a little bit older that as a family, we would do the adoption process or we would start foster care. And that's just not how it worked out. We ended up after we got married, we waited until about six months to start trying to conceive and it was just pretty slow roll. We just assumed it was really just life stresses in marriage. We had a couple of steps in the family moving and so we just thought, no big deal. It's just life, like stress happens. So, that was about six months since February of 16 and then it wasn't until October of 17, that's we decided, okay, we should probably go get checked out and tested. It's been about a year and a half. pretty consistently tracking and try nothing. So, we were tested in October of 17 and everything came back perfect. They did a couple of different procedures to try and help things out and nothing really worked and our doctor finally said that basically, you have unexplained infertility and there's a lot of reasons that we might we'll uncover in fertile male pattern, fertility, female infertility. Sometimes it's oh, but in your case, everything is perfect, and it's just not happening. And so, in the medical community, they call it unexplained infertility, and there wasn't really anything they can do about it. And so, I remember sitting with Kyle and saying like, I just wish that something was physically wrong because then I would at least have closure and I would at least know okay, this is it, and there's nothing I can do about it and move on with my life. Unexplained me that feels so lofty and just like, maybe it can still happen. Maybe it's something that I'm doing wrong and I really ended up putting so much blame on myself and hearing for so long. And we decided to start fertility treatments and we did that in January and we're really pieces about it for a year, and I hated every second fertility treatments, I didn't feel like myself, my body was just not responding well to hormones and medications. We started special diets, and especially exercise regimen, all these things that we just flipped our life upside down to try all these treatments and I just felt awful and realized that we weren't even enjoying marriage anymore, because we were so focused on this fertility and trying to figure out how to get it to happen. And so, in February event came, we just said, you know what? we're done. We're done with all treatments. We're done with tracking, we're done with all this. And I remember sitting with my husband and pulling out my notebook, and I had all these little ovulation test strips taped into for every day, and I threw it away and I said, I will never again, take an ovulation test. I will never again take a pregnancy test. I'm done with, like, I emotionally cannot handle doing this. It wasn't even month after month, it was week after week, because I just constantly was checking the pregnancy test evaluation. Every day getting up and my whole day was scheduled around fertility medications and tests, making sure I did everything that I was supposed to do exactly at the time that I was supposed to do it. And so we just decided, because we're done with this is about a month later, that we just didn't talk about. We didn't talk about kids for that whole month, we just stopped everything. And that next month, we said, Okay, well let's, let's start just looking into adoption, we said we wanted to adopt, maybe that's just how we start our family instead of how we end our family. So we spent the next six months just diving into as many podcasts and books and websites and videos that we could about adoption, we wanted to be informed we wanted to not just go into it and say, I will figure it out along the way we knew that we own our child, the research and the knowledge that comes with going through that so that we can be the very best parents that we could. And so, we did that for about six months and then decided, okay, this is this is something that we're going to go ahead and start now to pursue it. So in August, we started the process, we selected the agency consultant to sign on with and started the process fully in October with all the paperwork and everything went live in February and I can talk a little bit more about the actual process a little bit, but went live in February. We were chosen in April by an expectant mom and then our son was born two weeks later, mid-April. He was the greatest thing that ever happened to us. He and his birth mom were just incredible and we were over the moon to have our son home and our son in our life and our families were just overjoyed. He was the first grandson on both sides and it was just this incredible mountain top to having our son with us. And then a few months later, I had this feeling and it was a feeling that I had every single one of them fertility treatments where I was like, I know I'm pregnant and then I would take the test and I wouldn't and then I would beat myself up and be so angry. But I just felt like, I think I'm pregnant. I think I'm pregnant and I kept talking myself out of it. No, you're not stop. Like, you don't have to keep doing this. You don't have to keep testing and I just wouldn't go with again in my mind. And so it was actually my birthday when I took the pregnancy test and I had vowed that I wasn't going to do that but there I was, in the bathroom to test and when I saw the second line pop up, I just all I mean it was like I had never seen that second line before and I had waited so long to see it. So the net took another one, and another one, and another one. Seven tests later all positive. I just sat on the floor of the bathroom just like in complete shock. The realization that oh my gosh, I'm pregnant, oh my gosh, I have a four month old, oh my gosh, and it was just like everything hit all at once. The realization that I am a mom to this perfect little boy and now I have this other baby that's growing inside of me and how am I going to do it. And as moms, we beat ourselves up so bad, and we're our worst enemies because I went from this super high of just excitement and joy, to suddenly all this fear and anxiety, and doubting myself as a mom, doubting myself as a woman, I started thinking, oh my gosh, I'm never going to be able to carry this pregnancy to term like, surely if it was this hard to get pregnant, like, there's no way that this baby is going to be healthy, there's no babies be full term, or there's going to be all these complications, and just start, you know, plaguing my mind with all these negative thoughts. And so after, being in the bathroom for a half hour, going through all of these emotions and everything, I realized, okay, everyone's going to start wondering where I am, I better get out here and compose myself, my family was visiting at the time, and I didn't want to tell my husband with my family there because I have wanted that moment with him for so long that I just I wanted to wait until it was the weirdest birthday because it was the greatest thing that had ever happened. And then, also having to keep it to myself and I'm like, all over the place emotionally and mentally. And my family left the next day and I thought, oh, I'm going to do this really cute thing with our son and brother shirt on or something. I couldn't even wait five minutes, and it would have taken me to go find something to do. I left, I came downstairs and I told my husband and he's just started crying and it was just so sweet and here we are a year later and we have our two kids and so in love with them.


Christa: Were they as shocked as you were that this happened when they said you had this unexplained infertility? What did they say?

Montse: We had obviously gotten pretty close with our doctor and his nurse just because we were constantly in there. And so, they knew who we were, and they knew our story. They had seen us through the entire adoption process as well because with inducing lactation, they were supporting us and that and so I was going in to see them regularly for that. And so I remember going in, and he just looked at me and laughed, and just, we were just so happy for you. It wasn't like this shock, but it wasn't. It wasn't like we knew it and it wasn't disbelief either. It was just it was awesome to see that they were in our corner, too. They were they were hoping for it and so excited for us. And you know, we it was all in the middle of COVID. So no, no husbands are allowed back into the ultrasound room and they ended up sneaking my husband in through the like custodial entrance to be able to be in the room when we got to see our daughter for the first time and they were just so supportive of that whole process.


Christa: That's amazing. So go back a little bit because you know, one of the big questions and one of the reasons we really wanted to have you on to was about inducing lactation for your son. It's the thing that I think a lot of people don't know as possible, or when they do hear it. They're like, wait, what, how and we had someone on the show, I think when I started maybe two and a half years ago, and she kind of talked about it. But when we kind of did our story last Friday, so if you were interested, some core messaging, asking about it. So I'd love to hear kind of what you did, and the process it took and yeah, just a little bit more about how you did everything.

Montse: Absolutely. So, in those like six months of research that I did for the adoption, that was the first time I ever heard about inducing lactation for adoption. And I'm a researcher by nature. So I did a deep dive into this and the history of wet nurses. You know how adoptive breastfeeding really came about was from that basis of wet nursing, being able to nurse a child that's not biologically yours and I sat and I thought for a while about what that would look like for my body and what that would look like for my mental health and then what that was for our family and our child, I did a big dive into adoptee voices. So in adoption, there's what's called the adoption triads, the adoptive parents, the biological parents and then the adoptee and really for ethical and healthy adoptions. You really have to listen to the voice of adoptees, they're the ones that are most affected by the decision and we wanted to consider how do adult adoptees feel about this issue adoptive breastfeeding, how do adult x y, & z , we went through the adult adoptee voice for every decision that we made within the adoption process, because we wanted to make sure that we weren't just doing whatever we thought was best for us, but what we thought would be best for our child. And so in learning about adoptive breastfeeding, I told my husband, I think I want to try and do this. But there's two, two really popular ways to do it. One is with a lot of hormone treatment and medication and supplements and the other one is a little bit harder, but doesn't use hormones are medication, it's just supplements and pumping and I told him, I want to try that I don't want to do anything else. With hormone treatments, I don't want to do anything else medication. I just want to try with supplements and see if my body will respond to this. I know I've known since I was a little girl that I was going to be on like that. It's something that I always wanted. Instead in my body doesn't want to respond to that. With pregnancy, maybe my body will respond with lactation, if I encourage it enough to do and so I made an appointment with my doctor, we had talked about how we had stopped the fertility treatments with him obviously and I told him that this is what I wanted to do that I wanted to try and induce lactation that we were thinking about adoption and what he recommended and I brought him all my research and he laughed at me not meanly just laughed at me because he knows that's exactly how I am and so I brought him on my research. This is what I want to try and do will you support him this and he was really he said absolutely all I'll walk along this with you and whatever support you need, will provide. And so, that's how I actually found mommy knows best was by getting supplements because he told me all the supplements that he wanted me to get and most of them were ones that I could find on mommy knows best. And so that's how I found you. So I started taking plus epistle goes through fenugreek, brewer’s yeast and I was taking that twice a day all of us twice a day and pumping every two hours around the clock and this was before officially starting the adoption process he had told us that it could take months to be able to induce lactation and that was the adoption process you don't know if it's going to happen in a couple months or if it's going to take a couple years. Some couples, the day they go live get chosen and it's that quick some couples wait two years, wait three years, wait four years. And so, he just kind of said you can start whenever you want but just be aware that this is going to be a really emotionally taxing thing for you. If you end up waiting a really long time and you're lactating without a baby, you're going to go through the whole experience of loss if that's the case, you know, you're going to constantly be reminded that there's no baby there every time that you pump and every time that you lactate and you're just going to have to emotionally be ready for that and you set me up with support group to talk through emotions in case I needed it. Really just got to work so I rented a hospital grade pump for the first couple of months and got a couple of handheld from Amazon, got some manual pumps, was able to order one through my insurance. I mean I tried probably half dozen different pumps. I was really consistent about it. My friends would tease me when we'd go out you know we've got for drinks or we'd go out for dinner and here I am carrying my pack with me and sneaking off to the bathroom to go pump, a pump nothing really at this point. I wasn't producing anything. It was just pumping and pumping and putting it away and it was just teaching my body to react, to react, and react. You know, the pump, I was able to talk to work about needing to pump and had a look into a lot of the legalities behind hunting while not having a child, and what the law states. And thankfully, my work looked at it as me being a lactating mother, despite there not being a child, because we had started the adoption process. And so, that was super helpful, we were able to get a private room that I could go to during the work day, and I just continued to do that. And when we officially went live, and I started the process, Kyle, I had talked about what is the birth mother is not okay with it. Because that can happen and while she doesn't get a say, legally, and what we do with the child, once the child has been placed with us, ethically, she does have a voice and we wanted to make sure that we were honoring her. We knew that we didn't want to keep it from her. We knew that we wanted to run that by her and just see what did what do you think about that I really do but I want to make sure that I'm honoring you in this. And so, we talked about well, if that happens, then I'm okay with weaning off of all of this and stopping the process and letting that dream die because it wasn't worth losing her honor or losing her respect or having to one day tell our child that we went against his birth mother's wishes for something that we didn't have, that was something that we knew in the back of our minds. And thankfully, once I started producing very little at first it was like saving a milliliter at a time of milk and tiny syringes and freezing these, you know, hundreds of tiny syringes with a milliliter and then just really believing in myself at that point, once I started producing, even though it was so little. And you know, as I continue breastfeeding now like sometimes when my haka has a milliliter I'm like, I'm not saving that. And it's so weird to think back to that time where it was like a milliliter have to save like this is going to nurture this child and it was just so encouraging to see progress as you weigh. And then a milliliter turned into three turned into 510 and suddenly, I was producing an ounce and it was just so exciting. For one, it was the first time in years that my body was doing what I wanted it to do, that my body was reacting, how it should be act. And it was life giving to know that I'm not broken, to know that this this works. And eventually, once we once we did get matched, talk to our son's birth mom about it, she was so excited about it. I remember being so nervous on the phone with her thinking, Oh, no, I have to bring this up. And I'm so nervous that she's going to be totally against, even though I had already come to terms with it in my mind that I would stop. It was still so nerve racking. This is the most important person in my life right now and she's, I just want to make sure that she is happy with me in every decision that I make, and I remember telling her like, hey, so I'm just kind of twiddling my thumbs and being so nervous and she just said, you sound really nervous. And I said, I am. I just want to talk to you about breastfeeding and I don't know if you know this or not but it's possible to induce a patient and for adoptive moms to breastfeed, and I've been producing for a little while now and I didn't want to tell her I've been producing for a year and a half because I don't want to pressure right again. So I just said I've been using for a little while now and I would love the opportunity to breastfeed him when he is born. If you're okay with that. And she, I mean, it was like her voice just changed octave. She was like, oh my gosh, that is just amazing, this is incredible. Yes, 100%, Yes. I think that breastfeeding him is what's going to be best for him and that's so cool that you could do that, that's just amazing. And we just kind of left it at that. And so, I knew that, you know, whenever we'd left the hospital, that I would be able to breastfeed him but I wasn't sure about the actual hospital say, you know, those two days, were legally he wasn't mine. He's hers and he still is hers in every sense. He's, you know, that's his birth mother just legally, he's mine now too. But those two days, and I wasn't sure how that was going to work if the hospital was going to allow me to breastfeed, because legally, I'm not his mother, and you know what that was going to look like. And so, we just kind of said, whatever happens, happens. I'm not against formula like I'm not against whatever, whatever he needs is what we're going to try and provide for him. With the entire process, everything got kind of flipped upside down, because this is April of 2020 and COVID was new, and everyone was terrified, and no one knew what it was actually going to look like. And so, all these hospitals were closed to all these people. And so suddenly, they told us, we weren't going to be able to be there for the birth anymore, and that we weren't going to be able to see him when he was born, that we were going to have to wait until he got released from the hospital at hopefully two days old. And so just kind of coming to terms of that. But then, the day came that he was born. And we suddenly get a phone call from the hospital that says, your room is waiting for you, you better get here as soon as you can, your son is here. And so, we get over there within like five minutes, we had traveled down to his birth state a week early. And we were just sitting at this Airbnb across the hospital waiting to hear something and we get up to the hospital and we're thinking because of COVID and everything that they're told us that they're going to let us see him through the nursery glass but we weren't going to be able to actually go into the unit or anything and, and when we get there, they had this room ready for us and they sit us down and they have this lactation consultant come in, and she tells me, they're going to bring your son in a moment, and he hasn't eaten yet. His birth mom wants you to be the first to feed him. And I just thought, I mean, it was this moment, I'm realizing that she supported that decision so much that she wrote it into her birth plan so that we would have that opportunity and that we would have that that moment. And you know, they wheeled him in for the first time and one of the nurses had the wherewithal to, you know, US meeting him for the first time and latching for the first time, and he latched immediately and just went to town. And it was the most magical experience. You know, all of it, it was all these emotions all at once, because here he is, finally, after all these years, and also, I'm breastfeeding, and it feels so real in this moment. You know, I can't have imagine feeling any more like his mother in that moment than I did. And to know that his birth mom was supporting that decision. He was chosen for us that we were chosen for him by her, you know, she met us and said You two are the people that I want to parent my child and to raise him and that she supported every decision that we made. It was just wonderful and being able to do that. And unfortunately, it wasn't sustainable. I only ever got to that one-ounce mark. And so, we started supplementing with donor breast milk and a lactating system and I'm not sure if you've ever heard of the Lact-Aid system. It's wonderful. I cannot recommend it enough. Even for adoptive moms who want to breastfeed and can't induce the lactate is wonderful. It's basically this little baggie that you fill with donor milk or you fill it with formula, and it has a tiny hose that you attach to your nipple. And when baby latches, they have to suckle in order for the milk to flow. It doesn't just free flow, they have to actually do the action so it helps your breath react still continue to produce, they're also still getting the nutrients that they need from the milk in the bag. And so we were able to do that and supplement with donor milk and it was just it was just amazing.


Christa: You were working with that for you said about a year and a half and was that was a year and a half mark. kind of when you started getting that answer was that when you first started getting a little bit of milk?

Montse: Probably about 10 months in that I started getting droplets.


Christa: Okay. And what was that when you like seeing that first time?

Montse: It was so odd because it was different than what I expected completely. So, when you inducing the first, the first drops aren't really liquid it, it's this like, creamy, almost looks like collage drum, but it's not because it physically cannot be colostrum without pregnancy, but it was just this creamy substance and I remember thinking like, oh, no, something's like, and I called my doctor and he goes, nope, that's just your mouth ducks like activating they're pushing out like, everything they can before being able to release milk, and then you know, you remove the pump and that would be a huge drop white milk, like this is milk, this is this is my body doing this, it's amazing and, and it just was incredible. I mean, to see it and see your hard work pay off. And to know that people probably think you're crazy, there was very few people that knew that I was inducing one because it was really personal and too, because it's really emotional to have to like, try and talk through, like, why I'm doing this. So it was just a couple close friends that knew and then my boss at work knew because she was accommodating, and our families knew that we were trying to as well but that was really it. And so, to have our support of our doctor and to be able to ask him questions and share our progress and he had actually never had somebody actually induced before so it was all new to him. But he just followed all the research that I provided, and obviously did research of his own to help support me but it was just amazing to finally see it. Like it's working and I can't give life to a child but I can sustain life to a child. Thanks to this and it was amazing. I mean, really? I know I keep saying amazing but it just was it just to see, again, my body do what it should do.


Christa: Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. And it sounds like you are also surrounded by so many supportive people, your doctor, your boss, your close friends, your husband. And so it just shows just how I think support it, you need that support too. In those times, I think it can be so discouraging, you know, to do it that long and not see anything but knowing that you have the support and you're done. You've done your research. So that's really commendable that you that you did all that.

Montse: Yeah. And we actually went through the first four years of that infertility and all the fertility treatments without telling us soul, we kept it to ourselves completely. Just my husband and I and that was so emotionally draining the day that we decided, we need to reach out to people we need to be supported. We need to be lifted up by other people, we can't do it on our own anymore was so freeing. And we remember reaching out to you know, close friends and family and just telling them like, hey, this is what we've been struggling with for the last four years and I know you didn't know this, and you'd never realized that what you were asking us was really harmful to us and you know, but we were being selfish and not sharing it with anyone, because I guess it was just this idea that if we don't share it, then there's no pain, like, you know, or pity. But really what was happening is, every time we talked to our parents, they would ask us, like, when are we going to be grandparents, and we would jokingly like, shrug it off, like, oh, eventually, like we're not ready for it and meanwhile, we're killing ourselves with you know, all these hormones and fertility treatments and dying inside every time someone asks us about it. But we weren't sharing that with anyone. And so, when we finally did it was you know, I remember all of our parents crying and just saying like, we're so sorry that we ever said anything that was hurtful, and I was crying back and be like, well, we're so sorry that we kept this from you and didn't let you be a part of this. And so really, like, support so and it's so easy to say I can do this by myself. I can do this by myself. But it's so freeing to realize I can do this by myself, but it's so much easier and better. And when you get to share the struggles with somebody, and they feel the pain with you, that also means they get to feel the joy with you. And the depth of celebration, it’s just so much sweeter when things go the way you want them to go when someone's walked through pain with you. And so, sharing that with our friends and family finally getting that support really just turned everything around for us.


Christa: So I know I mean, for the moms listening I mean this is got to be, you know, super encouraging just because I mean, like I was saying, like the response we got from that story of sort of moms not realizing they couldn't do lactation. And then just being so curious, wanting to share with family and friends that are in similar situations for moms listening, what advice would you have? I always like to end these with fun thinking questions, as I like to call them. So if you could have a billboard made today where you could share one tip with moms everywhere, what would you have it say?

Montse: It's okay to ask for help. So, many people told me that through the adoption process throughout pregnancy, after having my daughter, they, and it's so easy to be like, I know it's okay and then still not ask for help but really, truly, you know, when we look back at parenting, years, and years, and years, and years, nobody was ever made to do it alone. Nobody was ever made to walk through any of it alone and for some reason, we as moms are so stubborn, and want to do it ourselves and be independent, and take charge and that's all fine to take charge and be independent. But you can do those things with support. With help let someone come and make you let someone come and babysit, you can NAB let's come on, come and you know, wash your dishes so that you can go pump so you can induce lactation, like, allow people into your life to help you. Don't be afraid of that health. And I'm speaking so much to myself right now because I hate asking for help. Really just knowing that it's okay to ask for help and more than that, it's okay to accept help when it's offered. You know, people don't offer help if they don't mean it. They're not going to tell you like, let me do this for you if they don't mean it, so let them do it. You know, I know that personally, I love helping other people. And yet some, for some reason. I have such a hard time letting people help me until we realize that help is this interchangeable part of community. That's just really what it comes down to is accepting self-accepting community.


Christa: Yeah, I love that. I think community is so important. And like you said, no one was made to walk this, you know, Earth alone and do things alone. You know, it's great to have community and there's definitely, you know, there's no weakness and asking for help or having that support so that's amazing advice. So, for anyone listening right now that either wants to follow more of your journey or wants to hear more, where can everyone find you on Instagram or wherever else?

Montse: on Instagram, I'm Montse 1633. And then on Facebook, we have our adoption page, which really is more of a blog now. We do a lot of adoption education on there, that people just understand a lot. We're passionate about making sure that people understand the intricacies of adoption language and what that looks like. On Facebook, we're at promotion options. Post pretty regularly on there. Again, Montse 1633.


Christa: All right. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I'll put those all those links below in the show notes as well, so people can check it out as well but this is an awesome episode and thank you for sharing your story with us and just being vulnerable in the process and everything that you've kind of gone through and come out really strong with.

Montse: I thank you so much for having me. Continuing to follow the journey of us.


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