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Support

12 Jun

I am so used to being independent that I hadn’t really imagined what life could be life if I had more support. Bob and I are basically on our own here in Qld. We have a handful of friends, many of which live a long way away but our closest family is a 12 hour drive away.

When we were in Adelaide recently we had a taste of what it could be like if we lived closer to my parents and brother’s family. I was able to work – in the middle of the day. It was amazing. My Mum jumped at any opportunity to have Dottie all to herself so Bob and I were even able to have a night out. Wow.

Since having Dottie, I’ve probably been away from her for maybe about 8 or 9 hours. Seriously. I can remember every single time and can count them on one hand. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my time with my daughter but if I had the opportunity to work for more than 20 mins at a time or to just have a little break. Having a glance at what a life with more support could be like and then coming home to this lonely place has been difficult for me.

Thankfully, we’re often so busy that I don’t have much time to notice the isolation or to think about what I’m missing out on. Our situation also has an unfortunate impact on our thoughts around having more children knowing that we’re on our own… and that probably isn’t going to change.

It’s strange for me going from being defiantly independent to craving help and support. It’s been a tough journey to even get to a point where I can admit that help would be nice. I’ve been opening up more and more about this and people tend to react by uncomfortably trying to figure out how they could babysit for us as if it’s their duty to save us. It’s not. I’m just talking about what’s going on for me. You don’t need to fix it and you couldn’t fix it even if you wanted to.

Of course I accept what cannot be changed but on occasion, I entertain a thought that maybe it could be different.

Under The Pump

8 Oct

So when Dottie was born, she needed to be taken to the special care nursery and we were separated. When we tried to breastfeed a few hours later she wouldn’t latch. Over the next few days we tried again and again without success. We took her to an osteopath and saw many midwives and lactation consultants, it just wasn’t happening and no-one was sure exactly why.

Initially I hand expressed precious droplets of colostrum around the clock. When we went home from the hospital I upgraded to a double pump and my new life as a pumper began. I pumped every 2 hours for 30mins for the first week, leaving little time for sleep or even caring for Dottie.

Once my milk supply was established we were building up quite a stockpile so I decided to drop back to 3 hourly pumping and then 4 hourly. Still it was hard work and I couldn’t have done it without Bob who became a night feeding pro! Then the pain began…

Firstly my breasts became engorged and full all the time. Although pumping is a good way to express milk it does not at all replicate a baby’s natural feeding rhythm so my body didn’t really know how to cope. Then I started getting lumps from blocked milk ducts. They were incredibly painful and could lead to mastitis. So now I had a dilemma, pumping relieves the pain of engorgement but then tells your body that it needs more milk. So if I pumped before the specified time I would get some temporary relief but would make the problem worse in the long run.

This continued for weeks. I was determined to give Dottie the best start I could but the pain and sleep deprivation was beginning to take it’s toll (not to mention the fact that I was missing out on caring for her). I ended up getting mastitis several times and the lumps continued… as soon as one cleared another would appear and I often had a few at a time.

When I was pregnant, I was excited about having a dairy free child. I never imagined that breastfeeding would be so difficult for me but when I was faced with the difficult reality, I had to consider dairy-based formula as an option.

I resisted to start with. I hated the idea of 1) feeding my daughter something inferior  and 2) supporting an industry which I am passionately opposed to. I may have eaten some meat during pregnancy but I never once consumed dairy or even wanted it. I soon realised though that hating something which could in fact be my saviour was futile, I needed to find appreciation for it and in essence love it.

It took some time but I was able to feel gratitude towards baby formulas and the cows who make them possible. And then one weekend I was pushed over the edge. I was in so much pain, pumping provided no relief. I was living on paracetamol, I couldn’t lie on my side or sleep at all. Bob had to take nearly a week off work to look after me and help care for Dottie because I couldn’t even lift her up. That was enough. We switched to formula. And thankfully I was emotionally ready.

I was planning on continuing to pump with the objective of cutting down to just a few pumps a day. The lumps and pain continued. The blockages were so bad that pumping wasn’t providing relief from the constant agony. So, I stopped cold turkey. I figured that I didn’t have much to lose. I’d have a few days of pain and it would be over rather than having to deal with the pain indefinitely. And I have NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER.

Dottie was fed breast milk exclusively for 6 weeks and although it’s not what I’d hoped for, it’s better than nothing. Once the pain was gone, I was able to sleep! Precious sleep. I felt human for the first time in what felt like forever. I was able to hold Dottie and hug people again and I could finally start being a Mother!

Baby Badlet

27 Jul

Welcoming my daughter Dottie. Born at 8:40am on Thursday 26th July on the Gold Coast in Australia.

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Posts about the birth and first week of life coming soon!