Ok so heres my story, its a long one so thanks for staying till the end!
I am Lydia, Mother of 2, farmers wife, small business owner and photographer for the Australian Breastfeeding Project!
My breastfeeding/mother journey started 6 years ago, I birthed my beautiful boy Hunter, breastfeeding started rough! Awake all through the night, flat nipples, bleeding, cracked, bruised, I persevered, he was tongue tied, diagnosed in the hospital (at 4 days old) by the paediatrician, but sent home anyhow, with exercises to “stretch” the ties, we know now that doesn’t work! at 4 months with out the confidence, knowledge and support I now have, I introduced an artificial milk bottle for him 1-2 times a day, and then came the ear infections, the tonsillitis, 10 months of mixed feeding, he decided he was going to stop, I tried again and again for a few weeks to get him back on the boob, but anyone I spoke to, or more so, broke down in front of, told me “you did good, he got a good 10 months”, he got the most important part, the first 6 weeks!? so from then I bottle fed him full time on artificial milk until he was 12 months, I know in my heart they were doing what they could help!
Then came more ear infections, more tonsillitis, 2 sets of grommets, the skin rashes, hives, and a tonsillectomy, all the while, me still thinking “I did my best, he got the best of the time i gave him breastfeeding”!? When sitting in the waiting room of an immunologist, I read the statistics on a flyer he had, about the link between the introduction of infant formula before 6 months and the incidence of allergies, it was then…the guilt kicked in, I did this to him, He has suffered all this time because of the choices I made, because I wasn’t informed…I didn’t know!
I got pregnant with number 2 in August 2015, this time I swore I would do better, I would know more, I was 9 weeks pregnant, and was having some bleeding no pain but, I was told by my OB, that I was more than likely losing my baby, he sent me for scans, there was a heartbeat? So…off I went to the ACDC concert in Adelaide, it was there, before the concert had even began, that suddenly I was in real pain! The bleeding got heavier, so I went to the toilet, there I was, in a stall, all alone, holding my baby in the palm of my hand, tears streaming and shattered I wrapped it up in some paper, in a complete bloody mess (thankfully wearing back pants!) I walked out of that stall, in a daze, and embraced by my family and friends, I stayed and enjoyed the concert through tears and laughter, that day was the biggest emotional rollercoaster of my life.
It was the next day, my life changed forever, in the emotion of it all I had completely forgotten, I had a lady coming out with 18 women to do a breastfeeding shoot in our vineyard! Honestly it was THE WORST timing, I felt like crap and the last thing I wanted to be doing after losing my baby I had already imagined holding and feeding myself, was to watch other mothers revel and celebrate doing that exact thing, that had just been so mortifyingly ripped from my grasp! But I sucked it up, I had done a bit of reading up on her, and she was doing some amazing things to help breastfeeding women, and I of all people knew how much the world needed to change it’s mindset on breastfeeding, it was for the greater good, I would have time to grieve!
Into my life came Sarah Murnane and her hubby Eddie, she knew something was wrong when she stepped out of her car that day, she introduced herself and I am sure her next line was, “is everything ok”? I told her that I had miscarried, she embraced me, told me I should have called and cancelled, but I assured her, “it’s fine honestly what you are doing here, is for the greater good, I might need you in the future”!
It was then I joined the Australian Breastfeeding Project group!
It was just 2 weeks later, I fell pregnant with our rainbow baby, Miss 12 months, Aster, our star, our shining beacon through the darkest 3 months of our lives, my husbands brother, 42, suffered a massive heart attack, I miscarried, both our dogs got bitten by snakes, and my husband and his brother (who had the heart attack) barely escaped with their lives from the devastating Pinery Bushfires!
Through the ABP group, I have learned a wealth of knowledge, I learned about expressing colostrum before bubs was born and the benefits it had, I learned there was women, part of a worldwide wide organisation called “ibclc’s” that specialise in lactation 😳 it was these women that would rescue me in my Breastfeeding journey with Aster!
As Asters birth drew closer, I learned more and more, and realised the ‘awesomeness’ of the community that had grown around the project! It was amazing!
We had a rough start with Aster also, my nipples were obviously traumatised from the issues I had with Hunter, feeding for 10 months, with a tongue tied baby did some damage! She was feeding fine in the first 24 hours! But something strange and scary happened with her breathing in the hospital when feeding from my dodgy boob, I freaked out, with no midwife on duty in our hospital, I waited at 3am for my mum to come and rescue us, I couldn’t settle her, and the only nurse on duty was sick and couldn’t come and take her for me, so I could get myself settled and calm, thank god for mums hey!
It was from here we had issues with her feeding on that side! I had Bleb after, Bleb after, after bleb come up, but with the ABP group surrounding me, I found temporary solutions to this and to all sorts of issues, I found out how to increase my supply in the best most efficient way, different feeding positions, but most of all I had mothers around me with similar or different issues and we could talk and share, or even just scroll and absorb!
After 4 months and seeing other mothers talking about ties, someone posted a video and some of the issues we were having with Aster and had with hunter, were highlighted in that video, I went and had her ties released, feeding improved, not quite to what it should, but it was better! At 6 months after blebs coming up less frequently, but still there, I got to the point with Aster that I could only feed her lying on one side, it was a challenge to say the least and I was ready to give up, it was tough and exhausting! It was then I learned about GP’s who specialise in lactation, someone I could actually go see, this woman, Moira Macaul, singe handedly saved my breastfeeding life, if it wasn’t for this group I wouldn’t have known to ask my Child health nurse about these amazing people!
Here we are 12 months down the track, I am still BF! I am able to express when the need arises! I am informed! I have come to far to look back now, through the pain, tears and frustration, I have conquered, I have done better, and I am not stopping any time soon!
It was only a given, being a photographer and with my struggles, but my perseverance and passion that I applied to become a photographer for the project, so I can continue this legacy, in the hope I can help change, even just 1 mother and babies breastfeeding fate, and by crikey I got it, I got the job, and I love it!
From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank you all, but most importantly, Sarah, I am doing better, I have resolved my anguish and guilt I had from my journey with Hunter, and it’s all because of YOU, YOU creating this community and the constant support and wealth of knowledge I have now!
…but… better stiII… I am also working with you, to change the world, for my daughter and her daughters! I am so thankful and blessed to be apart of this, both personally and professionally!
Peace and love all!
WE CAN DO THIS, WE ARE DOING THIS, DON’T GIVE UP!