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

Making a Baby

Making a Baby – Guest Blogger Lanni Cordwell

Lion Fox & Co would like to welcome with open arms Instagrammer Lanni Cordwell, otherwise known as @mumandmila. She is 38 years old and has been married to her husband John for 6 wonderful years. Her beautiful Mila was born 6 months ago, which required plenty of anticipation and planning. Lanni explains in her blog that love, marriage and children is generally the sequence of a relationship however falling pregnant was not an easy task for Lanni and her husband John. This is her story..

Making a Baby

I have always dreamt of having children, even from a very young age. I was an au pair then a nanny abroad for 10 years in the USA since I was 18 years old. Being around children was always a part of my life. 2 years into my marriage we decided it was time to start a family. I was going to be 33 years of age and I was ready. I was very excited and scared especially when I was very close to the 35 years old older woman bracket. I knew it would be harder but boy was it a lot harder. It was not easy but I was determined and I wanted to be prepared. I read up on when was the best time of the month, what positions, even down to the time of day. I went on Elevit, took multivitamins. I brought boxes after boxes of ovulation tracking kits. I downloaded and purchased tracking apps. It was months and months of using the kits and apps, tracking my cycle and a whole lot of sex.  We even had morning sex for a whole week because I read somewhere it was peak timing for sperm. I also laid in bed afterwards for 30 minutes with my legs up in the air making sure no sperm would escape. But nothing. Pregnancy test, after pregnancy test it all read negative, all just with one line present. I felt defeated. John was tired but I could see the look on his face. He felt bad. He knew I was hurting, even though I told him I was fine. It will happen I said to reassure him, but I was saying it to reassure myself. I had faith. But he knew, he knew I was tearing up inside.

After years of trying (2 years have passed now) and constant questioning from family, friends and strangers we went to our doctors to discuss what we could do.  He referred us to a fertility clinic called Fertility North and told us to book an appointment. We went to our first appointment and both of us were nervous to meet our doctor, Dr Vince. Lovely man Dr Vince Chapple was very nice and very straight forward which we loved, putting us at ease. After Running through our history and telling him that we haven’t used birth control since we got married, Dr Vince said that getting pregnant was easy, but the fact was we had been trying for the last 4 years and had been unsuccessful. It was the most heart wrenching thing to hear. I had so many thoughts going through my head, how could this happen? But I was meant to have kids, was it because I waited too long to have kids? What was wrong with me? My head was racing. I had so many questions. I always had that perception that having babies was such an easy thing. I mean 18 year olds were having them, my mother had 4 kids. Both my sisters had 2 kids. How hard could it be? The question of what was wrong with me kept creeping back. John and I both blamed ourselves and we both were feeling down.

As we sat there, both of us fighting back tears Dr Vince explained the process of what’s next? He said there were to be tests, lots of tests that we had to go through. He explained that it was a very expensive process, not just the IVF process itself but all the testing as well if we decided to go ahead with everything. There was no question, we wanted to have kids so we agreed and we got started. There were consent forms to fill out, finance appointment, a counselling session and numerous nursing appointments.  Then the testing started for both John and I. Lots of test, blood tests for both of us, lots of blood, urine tests, semen testing. John had to do his business in a cup. It seemed endless but finally the results came in. There was bad news and good news. First the bad news. John had a very low sperm count and that the percentage of uncorrupted sperm (basically good swimmers) was very low. I had endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside of it. The main symptoms are pelvic pain and infertility. That explains the very painful period pains I have always experienced. Good news was that endometriosis can be removed through surgery and we could work with a low sperm count.

First step I had to have surgery and get my endometriosis removed. Done. Next John was told to go on Melevit (male elevit). He had weekly test to check on his swimmers. He said it was very awkward, knowing what he had to do and that people knew what he was doing. Months of being on Eelevit worked. His count had increased by 300%. Great we were on our way! Nope, more tests. I had blood tests every other day to check my estrogen levels. They had to be high enough to get my body right for the harvesting of my eggs. This took a few months because my levels just didn’t seem to get high enough. I had to go back on the pill to increase my levels. How weird to be going back on the pill when we were trying to have a baby! So more waiting, more extra stress. We got through it though. We had to stay positive, we had our eyes on the end game. Finally the pills took affect and my body was ready after being on it for a month.

Next step, egg cultivation. This was one of the hardest parts of the whole process. I had to do daily injections to grow my eggs. This was a no go zone for John. He hated needles. Luckily I was ok with them. I had to inject myself at exactly the same time every day for 12 days. Then came the ultrasound to check on the growth of the eggs (follicle tracking). They had grown to a good size and I had 10 eggs in each ovary. The eggs were at final maturation and needed a trigger (final injection) to get them ready for collection. I was booked in for my egg extraction surgery. It was a day surgery, under general anaesthetic. Every follicle is drained and flushed. No stone left unturned. While my eggs were getting extracted, John needed to give his sperm so the process of fertilising the eggs could commence. They told us fertilisation was complex and dynamic. In simple terms, there was no guarantees. They were to call us on our results. More waiting, more worrying.

We received the phone call the next day, we had 6 embryos that were successful, and one was of an A+ status that was ready to go. Pure joy, tears of happiness, looks of love. We were so close. The day was finally here. We made the appointment for the insemination. All the hard work, all the doctor appointments, all the tests, all the needles, all the tears, all the heart break, all the road blocks and all the fees, oh my gosh the fees! it had finally led us to this moment. The day that would change our lives forever.

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!