My Feeding Journey: Elliot Dougherty

My Feeding Journey: Elliot Dougherty

August 20, 2019

My Feeding Journey: Elliot Dougherty

My Feeding Journey: Elliot Dougherty
My Feeding Journey: Elliot Dougherty

Being a gay couple, we knew that we would have to be reliant on others in order to have a child. While exploring our options, we decided upon the route of IVF. Ultimately, two women in our life stepped forward to make our dream come true. My sister, Lea, offered to be our egg donor, and my husband Matthew’s mother, Cele, who enjoyed all three of her pregnancies three decades ago, decided that she would be our surrogate (of course after passing several strenuous tests required by our doctor). We were blessed to produce several viable embryos, our first embryo transfer was a success, and Cele carried her first granddaughter to full term, giving birth to our daughter, Uma Louise, on March 25, 2019.

When we found out we were pregnant, we explored all topics related to parenting. Matthew and I try our very best to live a life centered around holistic health, so naturally, discussions of how we would feed our baby were at the forefront of our conversations. We initially assumed that we would begin on formula right away, but after exploring the research, we felt compelled to find a way to integrate breast milk into our feeding journey. During these conversations, a friend of ours who was nursing her son told us she would gladly start pumping extra milk for Uma. We were so thrilled and so grateful; she began pumping daily for Uma, all while thinking of her in the process. A beautiful friend providing our future baby with not only nutrition, but love as well. This seemed to be a theme for our story: a community of selfless women surrounding and supporting us as we built our family.

When Uma Louise was born, nurses and professionals of all varieties came into the room to aid us in beginning this new journey. We were taught how to change a diaper, how to swaddle her, how to feed her with a bottle and countless other skills that were foreign to us at the time. When the lactation consultant visited us, we were hesitant to share with her that we would be using a friend’s breast milk. We didn’t know if accepting “donor milk” would be frowned upon in the professional field. However, she celebrated our decision, and even more, introduced us to a variety of resources available, from brochures with lactation information to community forums in our local community. In the end, with the help of our dear friend, as well as a couple of generous women we had connected with online, we were able to successfully feed Uma breast milk for the first few months of her life.

At the three-month mark, we began introducing formula to Uma, starting with every other bottle, and eventually, transitioned fully to formula. Luckily for us, Uma has been an excellent eater throughout it all, happily consuming both forms of feeding. I guess she just really enjoys food, much like her dads! It has been such a joy to become a parent, and one of the most meaningful ways of bonding has been through the ritual of feeding: the way she gazes into our eyes confirms that she feels safe, secure and deeply loved. Soon we will be introducing solid foods to Uma, and part of me is incredibly excited for this new chapter, but I know I will forever cherish these memories of feeding and holding my precious daughter in my arms.

Elliot, Matthew and their daughter Uma Louise live in Nebraska, where Elliot works as a hairdresser, and Matthew as a performing arts teacher. During their free time together they enjoy tending to their vegetable gardens and backyard chickens, finding shady spots to read and daydream, and going on long walks in nature.

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