~this moment~

{this moment} – Inspired by Soulemama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Fed By The Village (Part 1)

This is the second part of and Bam your world just changes.
So, where were we up to? That’s right, my life had just gone into free fall after seeing another woman’s breasts in a friends bathroom (if you are wondering what I’m talking about read the aforementioned post). I had hypoplastic breasts. It was highly unlikely I would ever be able to exclusively breastfeed a child and I was angry and devastated. Luckily I had a strong community around me, led by my friend/midwife/lactation consultant who let me rage and whinge and cry but then brought me back to reality and practicalities. I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed this child, but I could breastfeed them. I had proven this with Zara who breastfed until 3yrs old despite having formula supplements. But a friend had opened my mind to another solution. When I had returned to Australia from Ireland and was in the process of dropping Zara’s supplements my friend, Shona, offered some of her surplus expressed breast milk to use instead of formula. I gladly took it, but a few weeks later she was off supplements (hurrah!) and it wasn’t thought of again.
Here I was now looking at supplementing another child, against my own will, if I could I would exclusively breastfeed. Why? Because there is no comparable substitute for breastmilk. That stuff in a can, sachet, packet Does. Not. Even. Come. Close. I not only know this because of all the reading and research I have done one the subject but because of the ongoing gut problems my poor firstborn has which I attribute to the early introduction of formula and solids. But this is not a debate about breastmilk versus formula. In my mind there is no argument. So, I really had only one choice, which is where my community came in. I was, what some would call lucky, but I believe you make your own luck, I was and still am a part of a community of forward thinking, strong women who believe in an evidence based life. It was through this community that I met my best friend, my midwife for my third child’s birth and the majority of women who are part of my everyday community (if you are interested that community is known as Joyous Birth)
My midwife and friend was the one who first broached the subject, she just assumed, and rightly so, that I would be using breastmilk to supplement before anything else. It was then that I turned to my community. I laid bare my situation, made them aware of everything I was doing to ensure I supplied the maximum amount of MY breastmilk, straight from the breast, and then I asked that they share their liquid gold with me if they could. To ask for such a precious gift was hard. I was admitting to the world that I was ‘defective’. I could not provide for my child what should come naturally. Before the birth it was actually easy to ask. I was also lucky, because the first month of breastmilk supplements was provided by a mother of twins my midwife met in the hospital where she worked. This woman had stored huge amounts of breastmilk which was going to be thrown out (as is hospital policy if it is unused by the mothers baby or babies – what a waste) and Y asked if I could have it. Now, before people start going on about diseases etc, I asked that all donors have a blood screen for specific pathogens that are known to pass through breastmilk. So, my freezer was full and I had a number of women in my area who had promised breastmilk after I birthed, so I had no worries. Or did I?
A month before I gave birth I posted this

As of this week I will be pumping – once or maybe twice a day depending on how much it influences contractions.
Lots of lovely QLD JBer’s have started collecting their liquid gold for my bubba.

The one thing I do want to post about is the emotional side of things. I am finding it hard to accept EBM from people. It’s hard to explain, but the fact that I will have to feed my baby someone else’s breastmilk for them to thrive brings up alot of conflicting emotions. On one hand I’m SO glad that bub will have the optimum nutrition and will be a babe truly raised by a village thanks to the JB women. On the other hand I am so jealous of these women and their abundant supplies, I am angry that I don’t have enough milk and as irrational as it is it feels like I am losing a tiny bit of my bubba. As one very astute friend said ‘in some ways CIAC would be easier because it comes from faceless, nameless cows – not other mothers’.
So I have good days and bad days with it. Some days when I think about it all I just want to cry and others I am glad I am doing the best I can for my child. I do wonder how I will feel when it comes to the reality of feeding my bub when they are here.

There were to be many highs and lows to come. A month later my darling Quinn was born and our journey together truly began (for those interested his birth story is here) A week later I posted this:

So – my darling Quinn is a week old and I thought I would come and write about how we are going. Thanks to generous donations Quinn has had nothing but breastmilk in one form or another

Quinn has been a champion feeder since day one. It was as if he knew how to attach out of the womb – which I guess they do But not grazes, no sore nipples just slightly tender boobs after a particularly booby day.

I actually have more milk this time. I have fuller feeling breasts. I noticed my milk come in on day 3 (along with the hormone rush) something I have never experienced before. Quinn has had some feeds from me where he has come off and had a milky dribble in his mouth.

To help my milk Quinn has had free reign on the boob – of course. I am taking Goats Rue and MoreMilk Plus. I have oats with flaxseed meal and brewers yeast added for breakfast. I’m munching on lactation cookies. Making sure I am eating well and drinking plenty. In fact this is also the first time I’ve had the breastfeeding appetite that I have heard so much about. I haven’t felt the need to pump yet as Quinn is so booby obsessed.

At the moment we are doing 4 supplements a day through the supplemental feeder. There are no supplements through the night.
We are also keeping an eye on his weight just to make sure Quinn is gaining but not having more ebm than he needs.

The emotional side of things has been hard though. Having a baby who is well fed has really bought home how much Zara and especially Cooper missed out on. By day 4 Cooper did little but cry and scream. Zara would sleep during the day but scream all night. Quinn is totally different. He feeds to sleep! Well most of the time anyway I know its early days but the difference already is so marked.

Both DH and I have shed tears over the difference in the last week. I am still holding alot of guilt over what I subjected both C and Z to. Especially C though – who I can’t help but wonder about – would he be a different child if things had gone differently?

As for the donated ebm. I think I have mostly made my peace with that. I have moments of disappointment that I can’t feed my baby myself. I also go through frustrations when he has a windy belly or the like because although I know what I’ve eaten in the last 24hrs I have no way of knowing what may be contributing from the donated ebm.
But overall I couldn’t be happier at the moment

Check out that text book latch!

But, really I wasn’t at peace with it. In the coming months I had to battle with a lack of donations, what felt like begging for help and feelings of inadequacy as a woman.

To be continued……..

how do I love thee?

Master L – I love that he finds a project and sticks with it. This week it is pirate skulls and cross bones. He has a notebook which is filled with every imaginable version of a skull and cross bones – happy, sad, angry, with fraying eye patch etc. I love that he will help his little brother when he is trying to point out something or when he falls. I love that before bed he insists on coming in to see me (he sleeps with his dad) and tells me that he loves me (except when he is angry at me for some reason) completely unprompted. I love that he loves Harry Potter and can’t wait to read more but he accepts that he isn’t ready for it just yet. I love that he makes me think, really think! about my answers before I give them when he asks a question. I also love that he feels he can ask me anything about anything and I will answer. I love that he has discovered chess and battleship and wants to play them and get better at them.

Miss Z – I love that when hearing that a friend (who is currently trying for a baby) loved waking up to see her and Mister Q’s toy bubbas on her day bed she told said friend ‘I’ll get you a bubba for your birthday, I’ll get you two’. I love that just before she falls asleep she stretches out her hand to grab mine and says “I love you”. I love that the moment we get home she grabs her baby brother’s hand and says “Bubba’s?” or “Trains?” and engages him to play with her. I love that she cares so much and thinks of others so much that at dinner tonight she said “Can you get me a spoon?” and then looked at me and said “I’ll get it, you need a rest mummy”. I love that we will go for a walk and she will come and grab my hand and smile. I love that she will pick a flower and come and give it to me or daddy just because. I love that when we talk about rainbows she just comes out with “you know what, I think my heart is made of rainbows”

Miss Z

Master Q – I love that he comes up to me when he is tired and puts his face in mine and say “Booby sleep?” when he is tired. I love that if I can see him getting tired and I whisper “Booby sleep?” to him he runs off and closes all the curtains and the ensuite door in our bedroom. I love that if Miss Z does something silly he will say “Zaaaawaaa!” in a sarcastic tone at her. I love that he will stand in his chair at dinner and yell “FUCK!” regardless of who is around (who am I kidding – it was hilarious). I love that he gets such excited pleasure from pointing out each “BUS!” “TRUCK!” and “TWAIN!” on our daily outings. I love that he wants to take his bubba on our outings and that he happily plays bubbas, chooc a choos or ponies with his big sister. I love that he has to wear his ‘jump-tar’ from the moment he gets out of his PJ’s.

Master Q

I love them all, differently, so very much.

and BAM! your world just changes

I’m pretty sure most of us have experienced it. You are heading through your life, minding your own business when BAM! Something happens that puts your world slightly off axis and suddenly it seems like everything changes.

For me one of those changes happened two years ago, as of next weekend. It threw my world off kilter and changed who I am as a woman forever. In some ways it’s something that I still deal with everyday, as it has effected the way I live my life, who I am now as a person and the way that I relate to others. To some women, it would have been but a blip on the radar, for me it was a life changing event, but it took some time before I saw it for what it was.

I was 7 months pregnant with my third child. This was very much a surprise baby, but an anticipated child none the less. The birth was something I looked forward to, but really wasn’t an issue as such for me. The issues always came after for me. My first child weaned from the breast to the bottle at 12 weeks of age. I blamed it on lack of support, lack of knowledge and really really bad information from so called experts. Second time round I was in a foreign country but still managed to surround myself with support and people of knowledge. At 6 weeks my dear DD was on ABM (Artificial Baby Milk) supplements. We had a strong breastfeeding relationship though, a story I intend to publish here in the future and she fed until just shy of her third birthday. I figured I must have missed something and that third time would be the charm.

This time around one of my good friends (Y), who was also a midwife and lactation consultant was with me every step of the way. She would be attending my child’s birth (at home of course ;)) and was also helping me to figure out how this child would be 100% breastfed. We had chatted at length about my past breastfeeding history and Y had some theories that she shared with me, but she really needed to see my breasts to see if her hunch was correct.

So we come to the fateful day. We were both at a mutual acquaintances blessingway when Y suggested we duck into the bathroom so we could have a look at my breasts. So, when DD was settled and busy we took off to have a look. Y obligingly removed her shirt and bra too, so I could see a comparison with another ‘real’ woman’s breasts. The differences weren’t glaringly obvious, but obvious enough, especially with her expert explanations. I had hypolplastic breast. I was a little stunned, but the full reality of it didn’t hit me there. Basically what that means is that I have whats also known as tubular breasts, meaning that during puberty for one reason or another my breast tissue did not develop properly and as a result my breasts cannot produce enough milk for my babies. As far as we can work out my diagnosis was caused by  a thyroid condition that was undiagnosed through at least 18 months of puberty, the time around when breast development occurs. I think Y had more of an idea of how hard the news would hit me later on as she was in constant contact with me over the next few days as I sobbed, ranted, screamed and bitched about it.

Once the news had sunk in, that I would never be able to fully, 100% breastfeed my baby, no matter what I did, I was devastated. I was also so very, very angry. I was angry at all those women who never even tried to breastfeed but could, I was angry at all the women who weaned forcibly at 6 weeks, 3 months and even 6 months because it was “too hard”, “too limiting” or they “just didn’t like it”. I was angry that the universe would play such a cruel joke on me! I was a passionate lactavist, I had believed in breastfeeding my babes and was willing to do anything to make sure I did. But mostly I was angry at my mum. Yep, that’s right. My Mum. You see, my mum has an underactive thyroid. She was the one who eventually thought that I should have a thyroid test to see if that was the reason that I was so tired and lethargic all the time and why I was putting on so much weight. But I blamed her for not seeing it sooner, she had been there herself so why didn’t she? It was her fault! Ok, so eventually I have come to realise it wasn’t, but back then, in that moment…well, you get the picture.

So, where was I? That’s right, life changing event….I had alot to work through from then on. First the anger was a big one, and Y waited until I had vented enough before she started mentioning that now we could plan because we knew, that this was a step forward. And it really was, it was just an awful bloody step to go through. I had already decided that come hell or high water this baby would have nothing but breastmilk. It was a hard road to get that to happen, both logistically and emotionally. I grew so much from that moment when Y told me about the flaw in my breasts. I changed in so many ways. I am stronger now, I fight for things that are important to me, I feel I have worth and so do those I care about. My third child, my darling Q, was a blessing to me, my family and in some ways, many of my community. I will post both his birth and breastfeeding stories here soon, so you can share that journey too. But I am still amazed at how such a seemingly small event, going into a bathroom and seeing another woman’s breasts, can really change your life……….