Category: breastfeeding

Breastfeeding.. love in every drop – Guest Writer Siobhan Barwick

All I ever wanted to be was a mother. Ever since I was a young girl, I had a way with babies, and dreamed of the day I’d be blessed with my own.

That day came before I knew it, and my life felt complete, as I held the most perfect little boy in my arms.

When I fell pregnant, my husband and I had decided to do what we thought was best, and that was for me to breastfeed. I never thought about it, as for me, it was the norm. My mother was a CHN, LC and midwife for many years, who breastfed my siblings and I long in to toddlerhood. Because of her experience and knowledge, I knew I could turn to her in times of need.

After a traumatic, long and exhausting birth, I cradled my son close to my body and was waiting for him to do the ‘breast crawl’ and latch on to my nipple. He opened his mouth and I put my nipple it. He began to cry. I tried again. He screamed louder.

What was I doing wrong? I had laboured for over 2 days, was rushed to theatre, was numb from the waist down, and all I wanted was to nurse my newborn! I thought it was as easy as putting your nipple into their mouth….how wrong I was! Luckily mum and my husband Chris were by my side to help relax me and assist with our son’s latch.

Still, I felt it to be unsuccessful. It was midnight by this stage and I had to go to the ward. The whole breastfeeding experience got worse. Due to the anaesthetic, I was unable to move my lower body, meaning I had to call a nurse every time Isaac stirred. Each one that came in had a different approach in assisting a latch; one nurse would grab my nipple and shove it in Isaac’s mouth, another would try and stimulate Isaac’s reflex by moving my nipple up and down on his top lip. He was jaundiced, so I had to feed every 3 hours. My nipples were blistered and bleeding. I wasn’t able to sleep because of the fucking bell going off 24/7, I was sweating heavily and felt extremely irritable. I needed to get home!

I was ready to give up, but my dedicated and some-what stubborn nature prevailed. We got home and that night my milk came in. Finally! I began feeding him standing up, as he was latching properly, but knew it wasn’t a long-term thing. At last! We discovered the perfect positions, and after a few days, my confidence started to show.

The hard part was over! Right? Once again, wrong. I had an oversupply of milk, a fast letdown, vasospasm, Isaac had a CMPI (Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance) and throw PNA in the mix! He was constantly windy. I’m talking, leg curling, fist clenching, lung screaming pain. My poor baby. I felt I had failed. My nipples were raw from him sucking all the time and no matter what I did, he just couldn’t get comfortable. Sleep was an issue because of the other things, and I began to feel like I was drowning. In the midst of this emotional roller coaster was also the whole journey of becoming a ‘first time mum’. Overwhelmed is an understatement.

There’s social media, Google, parenting blogs, parenting websites, breastfeeding websites, family, friends and insignificant others all bombarding you with conflicting information and opinions. The hardest part was yet to come. I thought that when you have a child, you want to breastfeed it. I thought that most women breastfed, that it was the normal thing to do. Apparently not. I felt quite isolated in a way. I was one of the only mothers I knew who was breastfeeding, and more importantly, because I wanted to, and not because I felt I had to. I felt sad for the babies that had mothers who didn’t want to breastfeed. I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t want to, especially to begin with. How do you make a decision like that, even with scientific research and studies to show the benefits? I do realise that some mothers literally can’t exclusively breastfeed, but also know that when there’s a will, there’s a way! (I do respect other mother’s decisions)

I had no idea that breastfeeding was such a HUGE deal in society, and that women were trying to #normalise breastfeeding through the use of social media. Wow! What a lot of shit to digest. So much judgement from random people about a baby being breastfed in public! What an upside-down world we live in…

“While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby.”

-Amy Spangler

When Isaac was about 6 months old, not sleeping, wanting to breastfeed 24/7 with an emotional wreck of a mother, I decided to use the power of social media to find me some other like-minded friends. I found lots of different Facebook groups, one in particular that struck a nerve was the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Facebook page. It was a Facebook page used for breastmilk donations for women with low supply, prem babies or mothers who just didn’t want to give their child formula or cows milk. My heart swelled as I began to scroll-faith had been restored. So many women were offering their liquid gold to others in need. I HAD to be apart of this beautiful act of kindness. Isaac never took a bottle/dummy. Just needed a nipple (haha). I had so much EBM in the freezer that I was thinking about chucking out. Sooo glad I didn’t!

Over the next 6 months, I was able to donate to an amazing mother who fed (still feeding @ 23 mo) through a SNS due to lack of milk glands. Every time she would come to collect milk, I’d look at her beautiful son, and feel so proud that I was able to help him thrive, not to mention forming a friendship with the mother.

Fast forward to now and Isaac is 21 months old. Our breastfeeding journey is still very much alive, but as your child gets older, a whole other can of worms is opened.

“When are you going to wean him?”

“He doesn’t NEED breastmilk anymore, he’s over one!”

“You’ve made a rod for your own back. He will only sleep if you feed him and depends on you.”

“Wean him when he’s finished teething.”

“When’s he going on a bottle?”

“You’re STILL breastfeeding!?”

Unwanted opinions from family, friends and others. You just can’t win. You don’t breastfeed and you’re a ‘bad mother’. You do breastfeed past 1 and you NEED to stop and get your pre-baby independence back. I will breastfeed OUR child until WE are ready to finish our journey, and that is entirely up to Isaac and myself. No matter how much you try and educate people with studies from the WHO etc, views cannot be changed. Breast is best.

The past 21 months have been nothing short of amazing, exhausting, testing and most of all rewarding. I have grown as a person, a mother and partner. My view of the world has changed, and my resentment towards my mother’s decisions all those years ago have finally made sense. I appreciate everything. Every sunrise and every sunset. Since giving birth, the saying ‘life flashes before your eyes’ has finally hit home. Each day rolls in to the next, and each waking moment, I’m able to see our perfect son learn and develop. As a mother, you’re never going to please everyone. Motherhood is about you and your child. What works for you, may not work for another, and vice versa. What every mother needs to remember is; you’re doing a fantastic job! You are enough. You are loved. You are more than just a mother, you are YOU and most of all, YOU know what’s best for you and your child. No amount of information, social media or opinions are going to change the maternal bond you have with your child. I’m so blessed that Isaac chose me to be his mother.

” The life of a mother is the life of a child: You are two blossoms on a single branch.”

-Karen Mazezen Miller

 

#motherhoodunplugged

As you all know.. I have two gorgeous, lovable, delightful and amazing little boys that I am so lucky to call my own.

Lucas, the Lion. He is our wild, dramatic drama queen and has an absolute zest for life. From the minute he wakes up in the morning to when he goes to sleep at night, he just doesn’t STOP. He is our wild child, and doesn’t do anything by half, which includes misbehaving.

Flynn, the Fox. He is our quiet, sensitive and content baby boy who loves nothing more than to just sit with you and enjoy a cuddle. He is curious and eager, and loves exploring. Which for now is mostly my face, including sticking an occasional finger up my nose.

Now it ‘may’ come across that I have this gig called “Motherhood” worked out, and that it ‘may’ seem natural to me. Well here is the truth about what motherhood means to me.. Without a doubt it has been the most challenging and anxiety driven period of my life. Mostly caused by my lovely son Lucas, haha lets face it.. he has not been an easy child to contend with.  And seeing how I am laying down some truths, it has only been over the last few months where I finally feel comfortable enough with my capability of being a Mum.

When I was learned that I was pregnant with Lucas, fear stained me. I was 27 years old, so definitely old enough to be able to manage the new role. I was in a relationship, content with where my career was heading, and I thought I was a very mature and responsible person (haha what was I thinking). But shit.. the thought of pushing a child out of my vagina just did not sit right with me. I had never been around babies, never changed a nappy, never burped a baby, never taught how to hold them the correct way. I was way out of my depth!

The pregnancy was shithouse, I suffered terribly with heart burn, gall stones, and ligament pain which often left me unable to walk, sleep, and be sane?! And finally when it was time to give birth my body was like..nuh..not happening. I never experienced a contraction even after my waters had broken, so of course after 24 hours I was induced and finally gave birth to a squashed face little boy. The poor kid was stuck in my birth canal after pushing him out for three hours. His poor sweet nose resembled what you’d find on a troll doll. And my bottom has never been the same after that traumatic event. Hello hemorrhoids.

Lucas terrified me, I didn’t know what to do with him. I kept asking myself, “when am I going to feel that glorious hormone oxytocin?” Honestly, I did not know how to be his Mum. Chris though.. he was beyond amazing, he just got stuck in and did it. He has never been afraid to get his hands dirty, which funnily enough happened at Lucas infant photo shoot. Sharted right into his hand..

I never bathed Lucas, for fear of drowning him. I gave up breastfeeding, because I was not psychologically able too. Anxiety drove me to quit, which is my biggest regret because breastfeeding is something I have such passion for now. Thinking back, I probably had some sort of post-partum depression, but I wasn’t going to admit to that. I didn’t want to be stigmatized, judged and pitied.. Even though I was 27 years old, I was being so immature about it.  Especially now, that I have addressed my own mental health issues and it gave me my life back. People..please don’t be afraid to step up and ask for support. Talk to your GP!

I started to calm down a bit when Lucas became a toddler, but I was still a helicopter parent. Forever holding him back for fear of him hurting himself. Whenever he got sick I mollycoddled him. I was taking him to the doctors for the smallest things. I was just constantly under duress, my poor brain must have been damaged by the constant arousal of the neurons. I constantly doubted myself as a Mum.. But.. I need to remind myself that there was a few challenging factors that most (term used loosely) families don’t face. My husband was away.. ALOT! Most of Lucas life he was absent, which at the time was awful but we had to create a means to an end. We also live in a state which is thousands of kilometers away from family, so being able to reach out for support was impossible. And lastly I was not yet diagnosed with anxiety. Again.. speak with your GP!

Now falling pregnant with Flynn.. It felt different. I was calm about it. I felt at peace with the idea of having another baby. Plus lets face it, Lucas was due for a sibling.. as it had been three and a half years until we finally decided to fall pregnant. Even when there were hiccups along the way, I remained calm. I am actually quite proud of myself as I rarely experienced anxiety at all. When Flynn was born, he was born into a calm and relaxed environment.

Now as cliche as it sounds, I feel like my role as a Mother has been reborn.. A born again Mum. Now it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I have never felt more at ease with being a Mum. When there is crisis, no matter how small, I hold my shit together and get on with it. I no longer compare my children to others, I no longer do dr google, I don’t even have any baby/child related apps on my phone. I just go with my gut and it always leads me correctly.  I now gaze upon my children, and that sweet sweet love hormone just makes my heart strings sing. Now it has taken five years, but finally I am happy with my new role as a Mummy.

Much love

Melanie xx

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Good Riddance 2016

2016 – Definitely Not an Odyssey

Well, 2 days into the new year and it feels largely the same as 2016!

I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that by some kind of divine intervention, the coming of a new calendar year is somehow going change them (new year, new me). Or that it may  bring them some kind of different life. As though there is some kind of divine being in control of their fate, a ‘Sky Wizard‘ if you will!

I’m not about to start waxing lyrically about how I’m a pessimist, or a realist (of which I am neither) or any other kind of ‘ist’ really. If I was forced to choose one like my very existence relied upon it, I would be somewhere between optimist and opportunist.

For me, I strongly believe that we are in full control of our own destiny. We are our own Sky Wizard, and as such, it’s up to us to get about fixing the things we don’t like. And let me tell you, there was a lot about 2016 that was not to like. I’m sure everyone has their own list of reasons that 2016 could fuck right of and your probably damn well happy that it has!

However, on the other hand, there was a lot about 2016 that was to like, a lot!

2016 was a year of change for us in the Edge household. The first half was pretty mundane. Work was pretty straightforward, Mel was plowing through her pregnancy (and bags of chips) with flying colours. Lucas was getting in trouble looking under the toilet doors as school (to see people wee), and we were fostering rescued Greyhounds. By all accounts, most likely an average 6 months in an average Australian family of 3.

The second half of the year was where things got interesting.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of my (our?) year was finally getting to meet Flynn. You can read the story of his Birth here. He is an incredibly sweet, calm and easy going little boy. He has brought a sense of calm to us both that we didn’t know before, both Mel and I love him dearly. As we do both of our sons.

Mel had made the decision to take a full 12 months maternity leave after Flynn was born. A decision that had (and still has) my full support. When Lucas was 6 months old, Mel made the tough decision of returning to work. Even though things have worked out fine, has always felt that this was the wrong thing to do.

And you know what, even though money is tight, we shop at Aldi, and no longer eat meat, things have been great! Both boys are thriving, Mel is a lot more relaxed (most days) and she has an incredible bond with the boys that is completely different to mine.

I reckon anyone that claims to be a perfect father is fooling themselves, but not fooling anyone else. Parenting is hard work! It’s the hardest bloody thing I’ve ever done. And it’s a heck of a lot of responsibility. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way? It’s our job, to care for, nurture and mold this person into the kind of adult that will be able to function in an ever changing society. That’s some heavy shit right there! I’m flat out most days just getting myself to do the things that I need to to get through my day. Brush my teeth, shower before work, no sugar in my 4th cup of coffee for the day. And that’s before 8am.

For my brother and I, we grew up in a pretty typical household. Dad worked (a lot), Mum did the household stuff, and we went to school. Both my parents are fantastic. They sacrificed everything to bring us from the UK to Australia in 1989, so I’m not about to get on my soapbox about how my childhood was hard, and that it’s not my fault that I am the way I am. But it is you see. Yes, Dad was quite authoritative and at times dictatorial, but we were kids. Pushing the boundaries, testing the limits and creating chaos wherever we went.

Do I want to be that kind of parent to my boys? No. Am I? Sometimes, yes. And it’s not until it’s too late, that I realise that I am slipping back into learned habits.

I’m sure by now you’re thinking ‘Why the bloody hell is he banging on about his daddy and 1989 when this is supposed to be about 2016?”. Well, I do have a point, and I’m getting to that (Shush Mel, my stories are important, however meandering.)

Back in October, we had Lucas assessed by a pediatrician. A pediatrician that charged us $400 to have us and his teacher do all the work for her. (I’m definitely in the wrong line of work.) Long story short, she came to the conclusion that Lucas has symptoms that suggest he has ADHD. I say suggest because I’m still not convinced, or i could just be reluctant to label the boy. Nonetheless, he does behave different to other boys his age and has issues recognising boundaries and when Mum and Dad are feeling the pressure of a constant barrage of begging for the tiniest morsel of our own dinner. Coincidentally exactly the same as his.

He can be an incredibly sweet boy, and has an amazing zest for life that i think all adults forget. Life has a nasty habit of making us get way too serious about things, and we can sometimes forget to have a sense of humor.

And here it is, the point of the last few paragraphs is that coming out of 2016 and in to 2017, we’ve had a lot of changes in our household. Quite significant ones at that. Most notable is the obvious additional mouth to feed (good on you love, you’re boobs are doing a great job!), we’ve had a significant drop in income while an increase in expenses and lastly. We’re having to completely redesign the way we parent. And it is unquestionably more of a lesson for Mel and I than it is for Lucas.

So here I am, jumping on the bandwagon that is full of people that proudly chime “Fuck off 2016!”, as we launch into what I’m going to call “Fuck yes, 2017!”

That’s all for now. I’d love to hear what you have said goodbye to in 2016! I’m sure you’ve got your own stories to tell.

If I’m not back in 5 minutes. Just wait longer!