Life After Birth | Liesel + Zeke

Life After Birth | Liesel + Zeke

As told by Liesel: Nursing Zeke was transformational. I found strength in myself and support in others and a bond shared with this wonderful kid. Our journey was amazing and perfect for us. I could take away his sadness, his hurt, his frustration, his hunger, and be his total comfort. I had no idea the impact it would have on me. I am amazed by myself! Before I had a baby, I thought nursing was strictly nutrition for the offspring. I had no concept of the love and bonding that also grows with each session. I was not around any nursing mothers growing up and my first real encounter with a nursing relationship was 8 years ago. That mama made it look easy! It was not easy! Blood and lots and lots of tears were shed from both of us. Did you know that a baby could re-form nipples by nursing? Guess what? They can. Really painful reformation, that’s what it is. From exclusive pumping to an SNS to just the nipple shield to my plain raw nipples we did it and kept on doing it through 22 weeks of pregnancy. Every time I would make a change I would give myself three more weeks. Magically, around the 4th month everything clicked, for both of us. A three-year journey is far more than I ever imagined. I’ll miss his little hands rubbing mine, his milk drunk sleepiness, the nipple filled grin he would flash, and the most adorable way he used to sign and make a funny noise when he asked for milk. I know our nursing journey together is over but we have so many adventures ahead and I can’t wait!

 

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Images by Bergen Howlett | Photography for Two Rivers Childbirth

Life After Birth | Chelsea + Jocelyn

Life After Birth | Chelsea + Jocelyn


My business was my first baby. I own Anam Cara Apothecary with my mum and over the past 4 years, we cultivated a shop full of herbal remedies, workshops, and holistic treatments. Here I could exercise my creativity and create my own schedule. Some days, I’d lose sleep over work, but only because I was creating new recipes or displays to try out the next day. Being my own boss was the best and I never had a bad day at work. Our clientele was wonderful and took us years to build, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous about taking a huge step back as I stepped into the role of motherhood.

My daughter’s due date was November 25th, Black Friday. The irony was not lost on me that I would be laboring and birthing on the busiest sales day of the year. I jokingly said that if she came early, I would just strap her on to me and work the register while sitting on a stool. How hard could it be?

I, of course, did not go to work that weekend or for several weeks after that. Jocelyn became the most important thing in my life, but my first baby – my shop – was never far from my mind. I soaked up the newborn days at home with Joss and my husband, but also felt pangs of guilt for not being at the shop during the holiday season. My mum assured me that even though she missed me, sales were great and the store was running smoothly with her and our employee. She was right, things were going great without me. I had the register app on my phone and could check in on our sales whenever I wanted. The shop thrived in my absence, which made me feel comforted yet confused as to what my new role was.

In the spring, I dealt with Postpartum Anxiety. The baby was going through the 4 month regression, I did not have many local friends who also had kids, I longed to be of use again besides changing diapers, and I wanted some autonomy from the baby. My feelings snowballed into a lot of frustration, especially when I went to the shop. No matter how much I wanted to do just one more thing while I was there, I would end up leaving halfway through bottle inventory because the baby was fussing and refused to nap outside of the house. My shop was once my place of serenity, and now it gave me anxiety because I never knew how long I had until the baby had a meltdown.

With the wise counsel of my husband, mum and sister, I overcame PPA by lowering my expectations in just about every department of my life. I wanted to enjoy Jocelyn’s babyhood, not resent it. My change of outlook has made all the difference, even though I still wrestle with it weekly. If a work related task gets interrupted now, I ask for help to complete my project, or put it off for another day.

Motherhood has taught me patience, to handle situations with grace, and to get creative when attempting to complete my goals for the day. I have nursed the baby on the couch while posting about our arthritis cream on Instagram. I have curated upcoming events and sent out emails while the baby is taking a nap. I distract Jocelyn with blocks while ordering more shopping bags. Even during writing this, I’ve taken breaks to soothe my teething baby who no longer is entertained by her toy.

My daughter is now 8 months old. My role has changed at Anam since Jocelyn was born, and I’m no longer there every day that we’re open or have the mental energy for all of the business tasks I once was in charge of. I hate this yet love the fact that I’m the one primarily raising our daughter. On the rare days I am at the shop without the baby, my husband asks if going to work is a break for me. “It is,” I tell him. Going to the shop and interacting with our customers without interruption is a little vacation for me. And I’m that much happier to return home after having some time to be creative at the shop.

All of my work is done remotely from my computer when I’m home with the Jocelyn. I’m in charge of some of the less glamorous yet still important things such as inventory, ordering supplies, advertising, label design and website maintenance. When I go into the shop with the baby, she is always strapped in her carrier as I attempt to redesign a display or mix together oils. There are constant interruptions and half done projects. The simplest tasks take me so long now, and my mum and I find it very difficult to have a productive workday when Jocelyn is present. We are either trying to soothe her, feed her, or resist being distracted by her cuteness. Our customers love her, and she smiles at everyone she sees.

Being a small business owner and the mother of a baby has taught me to simplify and prioritize things. There isn’t always time to do the grand product display you imagined, and sometimes you only get to check one or two things off of your to-do list that day.

Because of this new normal, I’ve learned to let go a lot. Let go of wearing a dress that aren’t breastfeeding friendly, let go of being on time anywhere, and let go of how the shop runs or looks. I remind myself that this is just a season, and Jocelyn won’t be a baby forever.

Motherhood is all about ebbing and flowing with this new state of normal. We’re balancing the baby becoming part of our world, us becoming part of hers, and creating a new world that makes sense to everyone.


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More about the LIFE AFTER BIRTH PROJECT

Images by Bergen Howlett | Photography for Two Rivers Childbirth

Life After Birth | Caitlin + Andy

Life After Birth | Caitlin + Andy

As told by Caitlin:

The birth of my son isn’t a story that would be helpful for anyone to read. The long story short is my beautiful rainbow baby boy was born on September 9, 2014.

So we will skip to a half hour after his birth. I finally get to hold my son after what feels like an eternity. The nurse laid him on chest and I guided him to my breast. It didn’t take him long to latch and he laid contently with me for hours. The first few hours were precious and I’ll never forget how it felt to finally have my son in my arms.

Against nurses orders, I kept my son in bed with me for pretty much the entire time we were admitted. On day 4 we headed home, he had only lost 5 ounces since birth. By his one week appointment he was 3oz over birth weight! We were so excited! Breastfeeding was working! Our son was thriving! We at least had that, even if we lost the birth experience we wanted.

At 8 weeks postpartum I had to return to work. I had 100oz in the freezer and I was terrified I’d run out. The first day the sitter went through 30oz of milk and I had only pumped 12oz in the 11 hours we were apart. So I started to wake up half hour earlier each day to pump. And an extra session at work. And an extra at night. Because he was blowing through 20-30oz a day on average at daycare. We didn’t know about paced feeding, and he seemed to only be content with a bottle in his mouth. We moved houses when he was 7 months old, and I had over 1,000 ounces of milk in the freezer. I contacted a human milk bank who after some screening accepted my donation. By his first birthday I had another 1,000 ounces to donate. We had made it to one year of breastfeeding and I felt so accomplished! We made it!

Well, my milkiedoodle didn’t get the memo that we were only aiming for a year. I started to wean off the pump but a Mom nearby needed milk for her baby, so I kept pumping for her little one, donating around 2,000oz over three months. In addition to the donor baby, I was sending 10-12oz a day with my son to daycare. I had to get several forms signed that he was to have my milk and not cow milk at school. I never thought it would be such a hassle to give my son what was best for him.

Well, his second birthday rolls around and I’m thinking that I should stop pumping finally! Weaning off the pump was proving difficult, but by 34 months I was finally done pumping!! Maybe I’m crazy for all that time pumping, but I kept thinking I had to do what was best for my son. And I had this obsession that if I couldn’t be with him, at least my milk could be.

Preschooler breastfeeding, Life After Birth Project

His third birthday comes to pass and we’re still breastfeeding on demand. I made the decision that I needed to start weaning him because he would never initiate weaning himself. We first dropped the on demand nursing and went to three sessions a day – morning, after work, and bedtime. Next to go was after work, and at 3 years 3 months we cut out the morning session. He asks frequently about having milk, and even though I explain it’s for bedtime only, he seems to understand but shows disappointment. On March 9 he will be 3.5 years old and that will be our last nursing session, unless he stops somewhere between then and now.

preschooler breastfeeding, Life After Birth Project

I feel so sad to think that this time is coming to an end. I felt like nursing my son was the first and only thing to go right in my motherhood experience. We made it to our goal of a year and kept exceeding the goal, so I’m not disappointed with that. It just seems so sad that one day soon I’ll put him to bed without that tender moment, and he may cry and fuss until he settles without his milk. I know that he will be ok, but after all we’ve been through, it’s hard to let this last bit of babyhood go.

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More about the LIFE AFTER BIRTH PROJECT

More weaning stories at the LAST LATCH PROJECT

Photos: Bergen Howlett