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

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!

My Birth Story

The birth of Flynn Archer….

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I’m going to tell you a story about my second birth. Now my first child was born almost five years ago, so the details are a bit fuzzy plus it was a bit of a traumatic event for me. So when I found out I was pregnant with Flynn I vowed never to have a birth like that again…

The day I found out I was pregnant with Flynn, I was at the gym and I noticed that my heart rate was escalating. I thought to myself that it was a bit odd, so I did Dr Google on myself and pregnancy symptoms was one of the options. As I was due for my period that day I made a mental note to get a pregnancy test on my way home. When I did get home I told my husband what had happened, and was off to the loo to pee on the pregnancy stick. I waited the ten odd minutes for the results, and it was positive. It was a bit of shock for us both, as we didn’t even try to fall pregnant. I think we only had sex once too, so my husband was fairly disappointed that we didn’t get more practice.

The pregnancy itself was a dream… I had minimal morning sickness, I remained active and I continued to work without requiring time off. However once I reached about 32 weeks, I started having what I thought were braxton hicks. I didn’t think much of them, so I ran a bath and relaxed the best I could. It wasn’t until my husband came home from work that we decided to call the hospital as my contractions were about seven minutes apart. Once at the hospital, I found out that I had developed a condition called a irritable uterus but thankfully I was not going into labor.

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It was touch and go as I approached my due date, with many false alarms but once I reached 39+3 weeks I woke up at 2:30am with a deep pain in my pelvis. Instincts kicked in, and I knew I was in labor. Once 7am approached, the hospital was called and we made our way to the interview room. I was relieved once I was informed that I was indeed in labor and I had a choice that could remain in hospital or go home for a while. I opted to go home, because lets face it hospitals are scary!

Things progressed slowly so I managed to chill out in my bedroom with my laptop watching Netflix. However once it hit midday I knew it was time to get prepared to go back to the hospital. Thinking back, it was pretty funny as my husband had started steam cleaning the car, and he was down to the final seat when I opened up the garage door exclaiming that we need to go right now. Contractions were coming hard and fast and were at least five minutes apart at this point, and once we reached the hospital I was 5cms dilated. I was immediately relocated to my birthing suit, and 20 minutes in I pleaded for an epidural.

I really applaud those who can have a natural drug free birth, but my mind was not in it. When I mentally fell into the pain I became a blubbering mess. And remember I was traumatized from Lucas’s birth, so I really wanted to enjoy this one. Once the anesthetist came and inserted the needle, it was complete bliss for me. I sat back and could gather my thoughts, even joking with my husband and midwife.

The most memorable moment of my birthing experience was when my waters eventually broke. I knew I was carrying a lot of amniotic fluid because at every antenatal appointment my obstetrician scanned it in at the 95th percentile. When it broke my midwife was doing an internal examination to see how I was progressing, and she gently touched the membrane causing it to burst all over the bed. The waters went all up her arms and down her legs. I was horrified, and I think she was a bit too by the expression on her face.

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It was almost 6pm when I was told be ready to push. I hoped that I would be lucky enough to have a couple of pushes and out he came. However I wasn’t that lucky! I used all my strength, and pushed for almost an hour and a half. Even though that took a long time, it was half the amount of time I pushed with my first. At 7:34pm Flynn Archer was born and placed straight onto my tummy. I became so overwhelmed and began to sob loudly, and I was crying ‘oh my baby’ over and over. Looking down at my son I couldn’t believe just how small and delicate he was, however I was astounded when he measured in 8lb 9oz.

I was surprised how quickly I bounced back post partum, as I managed to walk back to my room with Flynn in tow. That night I couldn’t’ sleep, I just stared in wonder at my little beauty counting my blessings for having such a healthy baby boy. I was even discharged the following day!

Today Flynn is 3 months old, thriving and reaching all of his milestones.

Much love

Melanie xx

 

 

 

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