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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Life After Birth | Melissa + Griffin

Life After Birth | Melissa + Griffin

Dear little one,

37 months ago, we met for the first time and started our nursing relationship. You were a tiny, fiesty one born unexpectedly at home, both 4 weeks early and in 2.5 hours. This was the end to a long journey to get you here to us: infertility, IVF, losing your twin, and severe hyperemesis gravidarium. You took to nursing immediately and enthusiastically, and I finally felt that SOMETHING in this whole adventure was going the way it should.

Until it didn’t. Or at least it seemed like it didn’t.
Six weeks of age brought a GI appt as you were referred by the ped who was concerned that perhaps you also had reflux like your older brother. Mama gut said you didn’t, but that you did have some food intolerances so I quit eating dairy in the interim. You were gaining weight, albeit slowly, and we were following this closely with weekly weights. We had seen a IBCLC and even the dentist who looked at your tongue tie and upper lip ties and proceeded with craniosacral therapy which seemed to help with the restrictions (as well as you re-enacting your birth each session by wanting to be held upside down).
The GI walked into the room. Looked at a graph, not at you sleeping in my arms, and pronounced you “failure to thrive”. He then declared that I needed to stop breastfeeding.
Wait. What? What? My heart hit the floor and the tears came shortly after. I managed to keep it together enough to tell him no, I would not stop, but that I could pump and fortify (add calories) if that was needed. He left and I called your dad and sobbed.
We left with the plan being partially fortified feeds and little to no instruction on an elimination diet. At the end of it all, you ended up with MSPI (which is now just milk protein intolerance still at 3 with liquid cow’s milk) and we both ended up gluten, dairy, soy, tree nut, and peanut free. I’ll spare everyone the long frustrating details. You gained weight with the extra calories and restrictions. Mama survived a restricted diet and we were both able to successfully reintroduce almost all the foods (no gluten for mama-celiac and still no liquid milk for you) by 2.
Life After Birth | Milk Story | Melissa + Griffin 4
That diagnosis shook me to my core. I sobbed. I grieved that *I* couldn’t provide all you needed to grow and be healthy. Despite my sadness, I fought to keep our nursing relationship intact. You see, you loved nursing. You were a very intense nurser. Much more so than your brother. I knew that for us, for you, just giving up and formula feeding was not going to work. I had to fight. I cried every time I fed you a bottle for the first few weeks. I hated the cycle of pumping, adding formula, then feeding the bottle. But we kept on and you grew.
Along the way, mama (and you) got lots of help and support from other nursing mamas that kept us going. A supportive pediatrician helped. Lori who did your CST helped. Dr. Virts who released your ties at 6 months when your latch became painful helped. Daddy helped by feeding you bottles while mama pumped and cried. Daddy helped by being supportive of us continuing to nurse.
“Ee-es” you called nursing when you became old enough to have a word for it. When you first started using this phrase, you would also sign “eat”. I nursed your brother to past 2 and figured you would proceed on this path as well.
I didn’t expect you to nurse past 3. I admit, there were many times between 2 and 3 where I wanted to call it quits, it was driving me crazy. But, I also wanted you to wean peacefully and on your own time, like your brother. I was fervently praying that wouldn’t take until 4, lol.
Life After Birth | Milk Story | Melissa + Griffin 5
It’s now been 3 days since you last nursed. You ask some times at night when you rouse. You sleepily say “ee-ees” and pat my breast. Then you snuggle up on my shoulder and go back to sleep. In this moment, inhaling in your little boy sleepy scent, I am glad that I waited for your time. That I let you choose the end of this story.
And I am ever grateful that we had this story and this journey.
Love,
Mama
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More about the LIFE AFTER BIRTH PROJECT

More weaning stories at the LAST LATCH PROJECT

Images by Bergen Howlett | Photography for Two Rivers Childbirth