Celebrating World Milksharing Week

 

 

Isn’t there a day/week for just about any cause these days?  Today I found out that it is World Milksharing Week September 24-30.  This is a cause close to my heart after having premature babies and managing to pump excess milk.

From the World Milksharing Week website: “We hope that by raising awareness about milksharing, families will never again feel forced into feeding breastmilk substitutes –an act which is not without risk to the health of the child. If a mother is unable to breastfeed, or unable to produce enough breastmilk, families can access the milk of another healthy woman through wet-nursing or milk donation.”

Close to Eva’s discharge from hospital it became necessary to deal with the excess milk in deep freezer storage at the hospital.  With a little research we were able to find a milk bank in Oxford (2.5 hours away) as Bristol didn’t have one.

Following a few blood tests my donation was approved and 25L of breastmilk was delivered my Andrew’s parents.

Some of 25L of frozen breastmilk on it's way

My milk being received at the milk bank

 

 

 

The Mercy Hospital, where Hugo was born, also has a milkbank which opened around the time of his birth.  It pasteurises and stores donated milk for use with premature and sick babies whose mothers cannot produce enough milk.  I currently have milk in the deep freezer at a very kind neighbour’s house but sadly it doesn’t qualify for donation.

It would be wonderful if milksharing became more common not just for tiny new babies but bigger babies whose mama’s milk supply has dwindled.

World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated from August 1st to 7th so I’m a bit late but thought that I would join in anyway.  Hugo and I are enjoying a beautiful breastfeeding relationship.  I am thankful daily for the joy and comfort that it brings to both of us.

I love that sound soon after he attaches where I can hear the thirst quenching milk slurping down into his hungry tummy.  It’s a beautiful sound.

I was lucky enough to be able to try to feed Hugo from Day 2 despite his early (33 weeks gestation) arrival.  Of course he was still fed by nasogastric tube for a further 3 weeks but soon learnt to feed for himself.

Hugo did have some issues with attachment, which was helped by seeing my local ABA counsellor, but now is fine.

Every time Hugo is weighed (and gains weight effortlessly unlike his sister) I am in awe of the power of the human body.  This substance that my body produces is enough to make my little boy grow exponentially. This growth rate is slowing down now and will need to be supplemented with other food in the future but right now it is perfect for him.  I think that God’s design is very clever.

Having a toddler in tow means that the convenience and portability of breast feeding is very handy.  I try to feed Hugo in whichever space Eva is playing in so that I can join in and there is less frustration.  Sometimes feeding him in the sling while at the playground is the easiest part of the day.

Although Eva self weaned last December she now likes to have the occasional attempt at a feed especially in the evening.  However she has forgotten the motions so can’t get any milk herself but is happy to enjoy the drops that I express for her.  I love to see them sharing in this way.

The fathers and families who support breastfeeding mothers are wonderful.  Andrew’s support and encouragement is essential to my motivation.  Together we prioritise breast milk as the way we nourish our child.

I only hope that we can continue this for a long while yet.

Advertisements

Towards Joy

Hugo’s six month birthday was a day of mixed emotions for me.   6 months has passed since I delivered a baby while asleep while many people met and held Hugo before I even knew I had a son.  Of course I look at him and am thankful for how beautiful he is but it’s hard to reconcile his birth with the joy I should have felt.

A couple of months ago the sermon at church was about Joy.  The minister used the birth of his first child to describe his wife’s joy at the moment of meeting her daughter. It really struck a cord with me and helped me to acknowledge how much joy I had missed out on with the births of Eva and Hugo.

Although I am incredibly grateful for the good health and safe arrival of both of them I feel saddened that the joy was stripped from such a special moment in life.  I felt joy the first time I held both of them which sadly wasn’t the day that they were born.

I barely had faith to think that Eva would survive outside of me but I knew that I should celebrate her arrival. I remember being pleased to phone my mum to announce her arrival but I don’t think that there was any joy. All my dreams of birth were shattered.

From 11 weeks into my pregnancy with Hugo I knew there was a possibility of a caesarean delivery.  I prayed that this would not be the case and did all the research I could into peaceful caesarean options if I was faced with this outcome.  I was lucky to avoid surgery with Eva, it was something that I was very firm about at the time of her birth.

I knew that Hugo would be robust and be fighting fit but the sadness that I have about giving birth by emergency caesarean section may never go away.  Every bath for his first two months he screamed when he was removed from the water.  All I could imagine every time was his shock at being pulled by forceps from my womb into a cold harsh operating theatre without his mama to comfort him.

Andrew and I didn’t get to share the moment of finding out that we had a son.

It was the safest delivery option but the saddest for Hugo and I.  My scar makes me shudder not because it is ugly per say but because of what it represents.  Perhaps had I been awake or had it been an elective caesarean these feelings may not have been so strong.

Given that I’m obviously not very good at the pregnancy thing there will be no more babies growing inside me.  Thus I will never have the birth that I dreamed of.  I guess I will have to live vicariously through others who are blessed with a smoother run.

I’m working towards joy by seeing a psychologist for some counseling. My lovely Maternal and Child Health Nurse offered me this free service so how could I say no.  Of course this gives me the opportunity to work through the effects of Eva’s birth as well as Hugo’s.

Recently with the birth of the very amazing Charlotte I  am reminded how blessed we are to have a very strong willed daughter who despite the joy being missing from her birth is able to find the joy in little things everyday.

Although Hugo’s arrival six months ago wasn’t how I envisaged it he is a joy for me.  The moments where his face lights up when he sees me remind me of the joy that I am able to find in the everyday moments with him.

Hugo’s Sixth Month Birthday

Has it really been six months since we welcomed our little man into the world?  Life seems to have been a blur and here we are celebrating this gorgeous little boy.

Hugo celebrated his six month birthday with his first Zoo visit.  He had some moments for appreciation of the animals although his glances may have brief as his mama was busy chasing his sister!  He did get to meet Amelia, born 3 weeks after him, who was visiting from Perth.

A big event for Hugo this month was a very relaxing family holiday to Bali.  He earned his first stamp in his passport and did really well on both 6 hour flights.  Hugo enjoyed swimming in the pool and the sea.

 

Hugo is really good at socialising and turning on the charm by flashing his big smile at anyone who would like to come near.  We just love sending him into a fit of giggles with kisses in his very ticklish neckline.  Blowing raspberries is a new, and very adorable, trick.

Everytime we spend time with people they ask “Is he always this good?” so I figure that I am lucky to have a very chilled and happy baby.  Of course I see the cranky “pick me up” baby at the end of the day but overall he is very happy to go with the flow.  Do you think he might be more like his father in this regard?

Hugo is much more dextrous with his toys.  He can grab toys and bring them toward his mouth with some accuracy. He can focus on us when we are further away.  Both of these things mean that time spent on the play mat is more entertaining for him thus he spends longer enjoying play.

Eva still remains the light of his life.  I just love how he adores her.  For the most part this is reciprocated with Eva frequently saying “I love him” “He’s beautiful”.  This is balanced out by the occasional swipe when he has received too much attention!

Another great month of growth for our little man.  Hugo currently weighs 6.675 kg, length is 61.5 cm and head circumference is 42.5 cm.  He weighs more than half of Eva!  His growth rate is slowing which is normal for this age (4 1/2 months).

A couple of weekends ago my exclusively breastfed baby spent 7 daylight hours away from me without any drama.  I would never have even contemplated this with Eva but he’s so easygoing so it was doable.  He took some breastmilk with the bottle but generally wasn’t too fussed about it.  We easily made up for the milk consumption in the 24 hours afterwards.  Andrew and I enjoyed a day of corporate entertainment for the Collingwood vs West Coast Final.

Maybe we will get to slow down and enjoy the next six months a little more.  I try to stop and capture the memories on a daily basis because he will never be six months again!

In The Sunshine

Today I ignored the dishes

Actually an everyday event!

Neglected the full dishwasher

Again an everyday event!

Left the bed unmade

While we snuggled

Played in the dirt

Snacked outside

Relaxed in the sunshine

And unbraided hair.

I’m so glad that our afternoon looked like this.

Prayers for Charlotte

Ten weeks ago we asked for prayers for a tiny baby. On Monday Charlotte Madeline was born at 29 weeks 4 days weighing 1.129kg.  Congratulations to proud parents Andrea and Todd and big sister Elyse.

Andrea endured 10 weeks of bed rest to give Charlotte time to grow. Please pray for Charlotte’s health specifically for her lungs.

A new journey has begun for them now.  Andrea is documenting this journey at Hoping for a Miracle.

Relaxation and Restoration

We have been blessed this past week to enjoy some wonderful family time with a week in Nusa Dua on the island of Bali, Indonesia.  The weather treated us well with blue skies, temperatures of 28-30°C and about 70% humidity but no rain.

Our days had a lovely rhythm with yummy food, lots of swimming, play and plenty of relaxing. It was so nice to reconnect together without the pressure of work for Andrew and no keeping a house running for Marnie.

Eva and Hugo both really enjoyed their time in the water.  Eva is just a little fish and scares other people with her adventurous jumping and underwater antics. Eva did lots of practice of swimming back to the side or to us if in the middle of the pool.  She was happy to go in the calm sea water herself too.

Hugo seemed to enjoy the swimming that he did.  Sometimes he was able to use the noodles and ring and floaties, if Eva was distracted enough.  He liked to float around.  There was lots of waterside eating and sleeping for Hugo as it was all so energy zapping for a little boy.

Eva and I had our hair braided.  Bless the lady who did Eva’s 10 braids.  It was like an Olympic event chasing her head to get them done!  As for me I think that I was falling asleep as they gave me magazines to read half way through.  So far Eva’s have lasted and they certainly keep her hair off her face.

The Balinese people doted upon the children always asking how old they were.  Our children were frequently in the holiday snaps of various Asian tourists who thought that our pale skinned munchkins were adorable.

Eva and Daddy enjoyed special activities together including a bike ride and kite making and flying.

Parenting together full time was one of the best parts of this holiday.  It gave Andrew a real insight to a whole week with 2 small people and meeting their needs all the time.   It gave me great support and lots of breaks.

Recently we had seen a big improvement in Eva’s behaviour with a modified diet (more on that to come) and we saw it all come back with the food she ate while away.  Mama is looking forward to getting her good girl back.

We used childfree time to enjoy two meals out where we could eat and talk without interruption.  One meal was at a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant that was just amazing.  The food was delicious and cooked perfectly.  Don’t worry on the other nights we ate plenty of varied and delicious Indonesian delicacies.

Also in our childfree time we enjoyed the benefits of the spa treatments feeling very relaxed after massages and other lovely treatments.

Now we are back and feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to face a busy few months in our family life.  We are all clinging to the memory of  the feeling of the warm sun and the refreshing water that we enjoyed so much of.