Posts tagged “motherhood

Hello winter

Winter has been a breath of fresh air this year. Summer was suffocating. The heat, the constant baby wearing in 30+ degrees, the walks to and from school with three kids in tow wore me down in ways I could never have anticipated. It was rarely cool enough to stop and say “Hey, you need a break. How about we go for a walk in the woods?” The woods, much like the ocean, realigns me. It finds my core and heals it.

So yesterday that’s what we did. We walked in the woods near our house and it was magic.



37

Self portrait at 37.

Mother, artist, wife, friend, daughter, sister. So many labels. Sometimes I forget who I am in it all. There are always voices talking and it’s rarely mine. There are hands touching, mouths drinking, my body always someone’s landscape. There are days, weeks, months I forget what I feel like when I am just me. What it feels like to just be. I am always on. Lifting, carrying, holding, soothing, teaching. So rarely still or at rest.

I have days I feel incredibly powerful. When I see the person I have become and she makes me proud. I see how I constantly strive to be better. I see how I push through no matter the obstacles and I feel stronger than ever.

I have days I feel like I am nothing outside my illness. That my darkness is all there is and that I am some sort of contagious disease. Days I fail to contain it. When the woman in the mirror is too flawed to show herself to the world. When I am all shadows and self loathing.

I have quiet days and loud days. Days I feel utterly alone and days I feel more loved than I ever have.

But through all the days I am thankful. Thankful for being me. At 37 I am better than I ever have been.


Jump cut 

It’s crazy how fast time passes. I used to think a week lasted forever. That was before kids of course. These days I can hardly wrap my head around a month.

It’s been three months since we welcomed our new daughter, Arya, into the world. Three months. And I haven’t even managed to write her birth announcement on the blog. Writing has always been a release for me but at the end of the day now all I want to do is to sink into the sofa and hope I am lucky enough to get an hour without anyone needing me. And honestly in that hour all I want to do is to stare blankly at a screen before I get up and resume my parenting.

They say better late than never so here she is, our Arya. Born at home on November 27th, 2016. Caught by her dad in the bathtub. Perfection.

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Dear Baby,

I don’t write much anymore. Not because I don’t want to but because time is never on my side. There is always something or someone demanding my attention. I must have written you a hundred letters in my mind already. That’s where I write these days while I juggle your siblings, work, house and the scraps of time that are left over for myself.

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I swore I would cherish every moment of carrying you but time has gone by so fast and now we are on the brink of locking eyes for the very first time. I’m not quite ready. I’ve still so much to prepare, to process and to memorize about you right where you are. I already know I’ll miss feeling you move inside me, the way you start up as soon as your siblings wake in the morning as if to say “hi”. You’re the last one. The very last seed I’ll grow and there is a great sadness in that. I already know the double-edged sword I’ll walk when you’re finally in my arms. The indescribable joy of every first and the gut wrenching sense of loss for every last. I’ve been there before. I thought your sister was our last but fate had other ideas. And as terrifying as that has been (and is) at times I am nothing but thankful.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I’m still finding my feet from last time and I worry that two arms will never be quite enough. I worry about the heartbreak that will follow for your siblings as they find me stretched even further. But I know we will have love abundance. I know there will be more smiles than ever before, more laughter and that my heart will positively burst with love for you all. I know that you will complete us and that there will never be any regrets. There are no regrets.

In a few weeks we will embark on a journey that will mark us for life. I trust you to know what to do. I trust myself to know what to do and this time I have placed that trust right where it needs to be. Right here, in the safety of our haven. We will be right here waiting, ready to catch you as you take your first breath of air.

Lots of love,

Mamma xx

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There’s a house inside my mummy

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“There’s a house inside my mummy

Where my little brother grows,

or maybe it’s my little sister

No one really knows

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My Daddy says I lived there too

When I was being made,

But I don’t remember very much

About it, I’m afraid”

-Giles Andreae

(Excerpt from “There’s a house inside my mummy”)

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You are worth loving.

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I’m going to tell you a secret. As good as I am at taking care of other people (and I am damn good at it), I am absolute rubbish at taking care of myself. I will happily bend over backwards for people I love, I will go above and beyond to do nice things even for strangers to the point of stupidity, like working for free. (I mean seriously? What the hell? In what universe am I not worth paying for my professional services?) But I somehow just can’t do it for myself. It is as if I am blind to my own needs, or not even that because I see them, I’m just not capable of tending to them. Somehow it is ok for me to not be ok but it is not ok for anyone else to not be ok.

I have been running on empty for almost 2 years now. I live off the fumes from the few drops that somehow make it into my cup. I stumble, I fall on my face and I get back up again. Life has a funny way of piling on the chaos and even when I can do something about it, when I have the power to open my mouth and say “I am not ok with this. This is not good for me.” Or to voice what I need or accept an offer of help, I don’t. My space is not important. My welfare is not important. (But of course it is.) Somehow I have lost myself along the way or perhaps I was lost some time ago.

I remember when I was a little girl, or even when I was a teenager, I would come home shattered because someone I considered a good friend had done/said/or neglected to do something. My mother would ask me time and time again why I let these so-called friends walk all over me and treat me like rubbish. She would say “these people are not your friends. This is not what friends do to each other.” I would curl up and hurt for a bit and then find my feet again. I would patch myself up and open my arms back up to the very same people. Time and time again. Someone I used to know told me “You see the world through rose-tinted glasses.” I knew even then that this wasn’t true. I’ve never seen the world through rose-tinted glasses, I’m a harsh realist but I’ve somehow been able to cling onto this hope that people will do for me what I would do for them. “Do onto others” right?

I could tell you a long and heartbreaking story about how and why I became this person convinced that I am not worthy of the care I give others but I’ll let the details be and just give you the bigger picture. Just know that I know why. To that I am not blind.
Imagine that there’s a person in your life that keeps telling you, in one way or another, that you are not good enough or worth taking care of. You are not worthy of their unconditional love. To this person you are resistance. You are not folding or scraping the floor before them. You are not ‘easy’ because you have thoughts of your own, ideas and opinions. You are different. Though you still take every blow given, you somehow still get back up, limp on and won’t stay down. For years you seek approval and love, time or simply attention but… You are not worth it. You still have people telling you that you are but there is this one constant voice telling you you’re not. If you know anything about how the brain works you’ll know that your brain will latch on to the negative and interpret it as truth. These negative views become your own. You find yourself in relationships with people who treat you the same way, it’s like you seek them out but after a while even your stubborn brain has to admit that something isn’t right. So you start trying to fight it. You figure out that you don’t deserve this but you can’t make it stop. But because your brain is now in conflict you find yourself at war, a war with yourself. It’s an endless battle that will rage on and on, a battle that has many consequences and leaves many scars. And it’s more or less silent and invisible to everyone around you unless they look closely and know exactly what to look for. And all the while this person is still there to lash out under the false pretence of “caring”. And you take it. You say “oh but it might still change.” And you hurt. You cry more than anyone knows that you cry because it just won’t stop.

I bet you’re asking why I’ve held on, why I didn’t just shut the door, cut my losses and walk away and I’ll tell you. In my mind that would make me no better. And I know I am better. I am bigger and better.  I am more forgiving, I have the capacity to love above all hurt. I am nothing like them. I believe in second chances, I believe in redemption. I don’t believe in cutting people off and I don’t believe in burning bridges. And I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried so hard to protect myself as well as stay open. And it doesn’t work. It isn’t working.

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For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about taking a time out. Time for me, away from everything. I am tired, no, I am beyond exhausted and soon I will birth another baby who will need everything from me on top of what my other children do. For days I was looking at hotels and saying I was gonna book one. But I didn’t. I tormented myself because I found it more difficult than you can imagine to just do it because it was for me and only me. “It’s too much money. We can’t afford it.” I kept going in circles. “You need this. You need a break. If you don’t do it now it will never happen. But you’ll be lonely. You’ll get depressed. But you’re already depressed.” It was relentless. I sought approval and permission from my husband. Of course when he immediately said “Book it, you deserve this.” I still didn’t do it. After a horrendous half hour one afternoon that had me mopping up a couple of litres of water off the floor, changing a dripping wet toddler and trying to salvage the laundry all the while I had two hungry kids on my hands, dinner was running late, an achy pregnant body and a husband in Korea for a week I finally did it. I booked a hotel. I booked the one I really wanted, the one bedroom apartment in a hotel with a pool. Just for me. And I was immediately struck with guilt. Then a little bit excitement. And then the war began again.

I went to bed that night torn to pieces. I had to face head on why I was struggling so much to just plan a simple weekend away. The first one ever away from my kids. That there was the first hurdle. I’m an attachment parent. It doesn’t feel good or natural for me to leave my children when they are young. And Isis is still a baby in my eyes. Too young to leave. I sleep next to my children every night. It’s where I find my peace and that’s where I belong. But even I have had to admit to myself that I am not being the parent I know I am. They need me to take a time out too. My ghosts came creeping back out. Old ghosts that never stay away long enough to gather dust. Some time long after I went to bed a thought suddenly struck me. It hit me hard, clear as day amongst the raging chaos.

“You are worth loving.”

Suddenly something in me just clicked. Suddenly I realised that I have to close that door and it won’t make me anything like that person. I have to because I am worth loving. I deserve better. And if they really, truly want to know and love me, I am worth breaking down that door for. I am worth fighting for. I am worthy of unconditional love.

I won’t lie. I almost cancelled the whole thing. Because we can’t afford it. But I’ve held on. I’ve had to rationalise it all to myself again and again. My kids deserve this. They deserve a mother who can come back and really be present. Perhaps limping a bit less and most likely with a new spark in her eyes. But most importantly I deserve this. Not only the weekend away, but to walk away from years of emotional abuse. It’s about so much more than sleeping in a different bed for two nights. So. Much. More.

It’s time to admit that it’s ok to start loving yourself. I’m doing it for me and I’m doing it for them. Because nothing and no one matters more than  the family I have right here, right now with my husband. I owe it to them and I owe it to me.

And it’s ok to say enough is enough.

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Made from love, born into love.

Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Sometimes a voice in your head tells you it’s coming even before it’s possible to really know that it is. Sometimes you ignore that voice because you’re not entirely sure you’re ready to hear what it’s saying. But that ball is still soaring through the air headed straight for you. And then it hits. 


I could tell you about the doubts, the weighing of options or the long talks. I could tell you about the pure exhaustion and the gut wrenching fear. I could tell you about the paranoia, the chaos or the loneliness. The physical pains, the weight of growing yet another life in an ageing body. 


But I’ll tell you about the unconditional love. The quiet excitement, the humble joy I feel for this growing baby. The pride I decide to carry this rounded body with. How i look forward to birthing, to meeting this beautiful, brand new person, to our first touch. But first to cherish these weeks and months ahead. The very last. An unexpected surprise. 


Made from love, born into love. 

Baby, you are wanted.

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Oh hello…

I’ve been a bad blogger. I dropped the ball. Not just fumbling at bit, just dropkicked it way out in the bush somewhere, out of sight. Time has kicked my ass the past 17 months. In all honesty life, the universe and everything has kicked me in the teeth the past 17 months but I’m still here trucking away. I’m like that weed you just can’t kill. Unless I self-destruct I seem to be able to survive just about any shit that comes my way. So much has happened. We built a house, we moved to a new city, my husband became a commuter, our son turned into a prepubescent thunderstorm at 4 and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oh have I got stories for you…  Anyway, I’m not here to whine, just yet… I just thought I’d check in just in case you were still there wondering what the hell happened.

So in short, I now have 2 kids at home full-time, a husband I see on the weekends and sometimes briefly at night. (Except the past 1,5 week when he was at home recovering from surgery. It may sound funny but it was a luxury for us to have so much time together.) I’m still trying to run a handmade business on my own, get some form of freelance photography going, navigate and integrate in a new city as well as take care of my little banshees. I’ve been a snot covered, bug infested wreck for the past 3 weeks but if you’re a mum you’ll know that none of that changes anything. You still get up and do the shit that needs to be done you just do it feeling like you have the plague.

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And the 52 project? I suppose it’s still going. The photos are there, unprocessed mostly, just waiting for me to sacrifice something else to get to them.

But the new house is great. There’s a huge difference between having a hard time living in a mold infested shithole (no joke) and having a hard time living in a brand new house that’s yours. Somehow the hard times don’t seem as hard. Transitions are always tough. Once it gets better, once we get the hang of this new life, it will no doubt see sunshine it hasn’t seen in a long time. I can be patient. I can hold out.

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Pass me a tissue, I’ve got work to do.

 


9/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Practising your “baddie” face with remnants of Darth Maul face paint. 

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Isis: Always happiest outside eating sand or dirt. 


8/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Those moments when the two of you make each other laugh, when you play together, when you so sweetly tell her “I love You, Isis”. When you hold her hand in the dark at bedtime and whisper “mummy, I’m holding Isis’ hand so she won’t be scared.” Those are moments I live for. 

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Isis: Those little chubby legs. The roundness still left on the body of a baby. Soon they only be sweet memories. I wish I could bottle you up just like you are right now to savour for later. 


7/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Hanging out with Leroy, Sir Legend’s dog. (Oh how sweet you are for buying into our friend’s  joke about being named Sir Legend.) You two were thick as thieves during our stay in the Blue Mountains.

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Isis: Squealing with delight every time the cats grace you with their patience. 


6/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: You’re a natural born entertainer. Your world has no limits (other than when we say no to your wish to watch tv all day). We spent a few hours in a discovery centre for kids and your positively lit up. You were a pirate, a builder, a chess player, a DJ, a singer, you did it all, again and again, and you loved it. And I loved watching you even more. 

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Isis:  This was your first meeting with the ocean (well, not counting the day before of course) and our first getaway as a family of 4. Family holidays might not be all relaxing just yet but they are packed with delightful times. You had such a ball. Dipping your face in the water, crawling in the waves, eating copious amounts of  sand and doing all the things a baby is supposed to do at the beach and loving it. 


5/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Such a serious face for such a gorgeous little man.  

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Isis: And suddenly you turned one. That bushy hair and those chubby cheeks of yours… oh my sweetness, it’s no wonder I kiss you a million times a day. 


4/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: It’s all about superheroes and villains, about guns and blasters, jedi and sith lords. The magic of childhood, the games, the dress ups and the secret lives. The very fibre of fantasy. All right there for the taking. And you, you breathe it all in.

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Isis: Little miss messy. That sweet fussy hair in the back of your head that stays after your nap. The way you put your face in your food as much as you put the food in your face. They say “enjoy every moment because it will all be gone too fast” as if I don’t know. As if I don’t watch you both grow with as much pride as heart ache. As if I don’t know that one of these days you’ll be too big to cradle, too busy to care that I walk four steps away. As if I don’t know that my baby won’t be a baby forever. I know. Too well.


3/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Dance like nobody’s watching.

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Isis: You’re our little cherry pie.


2/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Little Kylo Ren.

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Isis: Always observing.


The 52 Project- 2016 – 1/52

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Always in character, usually in costume. Pure gold.

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Isis: So close to your first birthday I can hardly believe it. Such a big personality for such a small body.

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I told myself that this year I would post every week as the weeks went by. Well, that obviously didn’t happen. I could blame not having a laptop but really it’s more because I have two kids mostly at home, I have my own micro business that I do from home and editing photos just isn’t high on my list of priorities when the day nears its end and I finally have an hour to myself. So they’ll be late, but they’ll be here eventually. Without titles most of time this year because it’s just easier not to. Happy new 52 year!


52/52 – The End

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: And then you were 4. I swear you only just turned 3. Your favourite things these days are eating ice cream, dressing up, listening to Star Wars, reading Star Wars books, playing Fireman Sam and bossing people around.

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Isis: In a short month you will turn 1. I sometimes wish we could go back, that we could do parts of this year over again. But I’d always want you to stay the same. You are perfect.

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That’s a wrap for this year! I will most likely do another round of the 52 project next year but this time I won’t start until we hit January. (Which is tomorrow come to think of it!) Happy New Year from all of us!

xx Dida


51/52- Delights

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: On the cusp of 4 you are a force to be reckoned with. A big, bright personality with the most vivid imagination. You rarely stay quiet for anything other than reading, the occasional tv watching and sleeping. You’re a fantastic storyteller and you love people. Your passion shines through in everything you do. You run from morning until night. You love big and hard, you fight big and hard. You challenge me more than anything ever has. You are an amazing little person and I am forever grateful for the privilege to be your mother.

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Isis: My baby Isis Indigo. How you’ve swept us all off our feet this year. I can hardly remember what life was like before knowing you. You complete us. What a delightful bundle of joy you are. (Please learn to sleep soon.)


50/52 -Memories

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Hanging out with your best friend on a warm, sunny day. Running around naked, eating sausages, fighting, laughing, rolling in the grass. This is what great childhood memories are made of.

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Isis: Keeping an eye on me as I work. Look at you, growing at lighting speed. It’s such a cliché to say you’re growing up too fast but you are.


49/52 – Dressed up

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: You’d make a great woodland pixie. Fierce, beautiful and adventurous. (Gorgeous pixie bonnet handmade by Abbotsford Knits.)

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Isis: This is probably one of my favourite photos of you from this series. From that small sliver of time you’d let me prop things on your head without question.


48/52 – Sunday

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Helping out in the kitchen making Sunday pancakes.

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Isis: Enjoy a bit of nudie time before dinner.


The Milk Wars

I wrote this post months ago, back in June to be exact. It’s been sitting here waiting. (I’ve edited it to reflect her age now.) I excused it with needing photos or a final edit. Or a better opening or ending. In the end I realised I was just making excuses because the words, the story they tell, still hits me a place where it hurts. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. But it’s still a story I need to tell so here it is.

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Art history is riddled with them, serene images of mothers breastfeeding their babies. It looks like the most natural, effortless thing ever. After all boobs and babies are meant to go together right? Right…

I breastfed my son for almost 2,5 years. It didn’t come naturally to us, we struggled to get there but we got there, sort of. In hindsight I’m not sure we ever really did it ‘right’, he was always a poor latcher but I made milk and he was fed and happy so it can’t have been all wrong. So when my daughter was born I thought surely this time things would be easier.

Yesterday my daughter turned 11 months old. And that marked 11 months of battling to breastfeed her.

She was in a hurry to be born, my little Isis. Once she was we took our time to just soak each other up. We spent a long time skin to skin feeling each other out and moving closer to that first feed. It didn’t come easy. Once she latched she kept falling off growing tired and frustrated. Every feed was like this. I asked to see a lactation consultant at the hospital before going home but it was the weekend so no one ever came and I was only staying for 12 hours.  I told my midwives about our troubles but nothing happened. My breasts were sore and painful but it was difficult to distinguish between the normal aches and pains of my milk coming in, baby learning to feed and possible other problems. For the first week I had to peel skin off my nipples (so-called blebs) to keep them from becoming blocked. It was just as bad as it sounds. One of my midwives asked how the feeds were progressing and I remember saying that they were marginally better. Marginally, when you’re in a world of pain isn’t good. I told them about leaking milk while feeding, clicking, lack of suction, the pain and how it didn’t feel as if she emptied the breast. But it somehow always got lost in the mix. Most things do with a newborn and they definitely do when you throw another kid and sleep deprivation in to the mix.

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For the first few weeks I had to get up with my daughter at night to feed her. We co-sleep so it would have been more beneficial (for me, I suppose) to stay in bed but because she was such a terrible latcher I had to see properly to try my best to minimise the discomfort and help her. I’d try flipping her lips out but she’d pull back and curl them back under. At every appointment we had I told nurses and midwives this. No bells rang. One midwife saw her feed once but with breasts bursting with milk and a tiny baby you kind of have to look properly to catch a bad latch, a passing glimpse as you’re doing something else won’t cut it.

So my daughter became a so-called nipple feeder and I put up with it. For a long time. Around 3 months it started getting really bad. The pain was getting excruciating. If you had seen some of the positions I had to be in for her to feed you would have thought I was crazy. My back was killing me but my boobs were worse. For a while I cried every night, sometimes during the day too. Our feeds had become battles. My baby would get frantic because when you aren’t latching properly it takes a long time for any letdown to happen. I had to walk, bounce and sing to keep her calm enough to feed. I became a master in walking while breastfeeding. And me? I was nearing my wit’s end. Every night I’d consider giving up and every night I’d talk myself into hanging on for just one more day.

To make up for not being able to latch properly, and therefore empty the breast, Isis would feed more often. Sometimes hourly, most times every 1,5 -2 hours, night and day.

I can’t remember exactly how old she was when we had another appointment with a maternal health nurse but it must have been around the 4 month mark. I was hanging all my hopes on this appointment, hoping that someone would be able to help me. I had growing suspicions that something was wrong, very wrong, and I suspected my baby might have an upper lip tie at the very least. But I was no expert and I needed help from someone who knew about such things before I went crazy. My mental state was deteriorating fast. I was struggling. Badly.

Before you accuse me of being a masochist or just a plain idiot consider the benefit of breast milk and breastfeeding to a baby and to the mother. And if you still want to call me a masochistic idiot just suck it up and keep it to yourself, ok? I chose to fight this battle because I believe the benefits far outweigh my troubles, and that’s saying something about my stance on breastfeeding.

Anyway, moving on.

Our appointment came and the nurse went through the normal proceedings of checking weight, height etc. We were all good. She asked if there were any troubles and I told her about our feedings to which she replied, aimed at my baby, “you’re just a little pest, aren’t you?” I was baffled. I told her about my suspicions and she continued to refer to my baby as a pest and told me she hoped I could find some help. And that was it. No help whatsoever.

I cried walking home. I had been hanging on by a thread until then and now there was nothing. Just this big pit of pain and hopelessness.

It’s not a long walk back to our house but during those few minutes I decided that if the so-called “professionals” weren’t going to help me I would give it one last go myself. And so I read and googled and started making calls. A dear friend of mine offered to help and together we set out to find people who would know where to go and what to do. She discovered a Facebook group she thought could answer a lot of my questions and I asked to join. I diagnosed my daughters upper lip tie myself but couldn’t be sure that it really was what I thought it was. Within a few hours I had booked a doctor’s appointment for a referral to see a specialist and things were moving forward. Finally.

The doctor had no idea what I was talking about. He blindly wrote a referral to see the dentist I told him I needed her to see. Most doctors, in fact a lot of health personnel, have no clue about ties whatsoever. They’ll even go as far as call it a myth or try to convince you it’s not a real problem. You need a specialist. Believe me.

I don’t know if we were just lucky or if the age of my baby helped us get in fast but within a week we were on our way to see the dentist I had been so highly recommended. I was terrified and convinced it was all in my head. She ticked all the boxes on the check list they sent us but I still couldn’t’ quite believe something was wrong if I was the only one seeing it.  If I was in fact right they would laser the ties on the spot for the price of $600, no refunds available or reclaims through Medicare at all. I know what you’re thinking, $600 is a lot of money. But formula alone would probably cost us more in the long run and tongue and lip ties can, if left untreated, cause problems with teeth, speech and eating.

Once in with the dentist he examined our daughter and diagnosed her with a class 4 upper lip tie and a posterior tongue tie. He told us she also has an incredibly high palate which makes it even more troublesome. His words were ” It’s as bad as it gets.” Her upper lip tie was so tight you couldn’t lift her lip to her nose. Finally I had all my questions and suspicions accounted for. I wasn’t crazy. By this stage Isis was 4 months old. 4 months of poor feeding is a long time. 4 months of fighting to breastfeed is a long time.

The procedure is rather quick but traumatising, for the parents at least. They don’t sedate or use any form of pain killers while lasering. I had to wrap our daughter up, arms down, and my husband had to hold her down while they did it. I waited outside afraid that if I was present it would be too hard for me to feed right after because of the stress of seeing it happen. Her screams made my skin crawl. I have never before or after heard a baby scream like that. It was the worst few minutes I can remember. She stopped quickly once they were done and we were taken to an empty dentist’s office to feed her. My poor husband broke down and we both cried. I can’t really describe it. I never want to relive any of it.

Sores in the mouth heal quite quick so we were instructed to do so-called stretches on the wounds 6 times a day to keep them from reattaching. I won’t spend time describing them to you but it was awful. I saw a lactation consultant 2 days after but poor Isis was too tired to feed properly and still so swollen that it didn’t do much good. I was told it could take up to 10 weeks for feeds to improve because she had to relearn how to use the muscles in her mouth. It’s a lot to do for a little baby and it makes them very tired. And things got far worse when she reached exhaustion. But we persevered. 2 weeks later I went back to see a lactation consultant but at the age Isis was now she was too distracted by everything to feed. She latched enough for the consultant to have a look and tell me I should feel lucky my nipples were partially desensitized. I didn’t feel lucky but I guess it was just her way of telling me it was bad but could be worse had I in fact not had some loss of sensitivity in the nipples from long-term nipple feeding already. Breastfeeding at this stage was only marginally better and we agreed I would start pumping to keep my supply up. She was still putting on weight but the concern was that if she wasn’t draining the breast my milk would dwindle.

Pumping for me is hard. I don’t get a let down and have to effectively ‘dry pump’. It’s tiresome and it takes a lot out of me. But I did it and for a while even started to get a bit of milk. But pumping is a whole other story.

So. Here we are numerous months after the procedure, way past the 10 week mark. Feeds are still not great. They can still be painful. Sometimes awful. Let downs can still take ages and I still rock, sing and whatnot to get there. My baby will always be a nipple feeder, she hates having anything touch her palate and has worked out her own way of feeding. It’s not great but we manage. I take it week by week. Every feed is a small victory. She’s happy and thriving. She sometimes still feeds up to 7 times overnight which is hard as I never get to sleep for longer than 3 hours, if I’m lucky. (And that’s a rare occasion!) My nipple (she has refused one side and will only feed from one breast) is another story. Once it retires from breastfeeding it may never let anyone touch it again, ever, and probably rightfully so.

Since finding out about Isis’ ties I have become very suspicious that Anakin is tied too. His lip isn’t as bad as hers but his tongue is visibly tied which would explain my breastfeeding troubles with him. But he’s lucky. It doesn’t seem to be effecting his speech or his teeth.

Maybe I am a masochist for still breastfeeding my baby and for enduring the pain for so long, I don’t know. But breastfeeding is important to me and to her. My milk is liquid gold and I just can’t deprive her of that when it’s still within my means to keep going. Would I feel better if I stopped? On the one hand, probably, but on the other… no.  I only wish someone had heard me sooner. I wish it was custom to check for ties at  birth and to take any complaint about breastfeeding seriously.

I am full of regrets but also full of pride for fighting for my baby’s, and for my own, right to breastfeed. My new goal is to make it to 12 months. I hope we can go for a lot longer but realistically I eventually have to take my own mental health into consideration and decide whether it will be better for me to wean. The thought of weaning her before she is ready kills me. But that decision is still a while a way.

In the mean time my nipple will keep battling on while the milk still flows.

 


47/52 – Big, Little

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin:My beautiful boy,  I sometimes forget how sensitive you are. How your loud screams and clenched teeth are just a shield you put up to hide behind. I forget how much alike we are until I catch a glimpse of those longing eyes. I see you. I know you. And we’ll find our way.

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Isis: Little explorer. Finally able to sit up. How much bigger and exciting the world just got.