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  • Writer's pictureChantelle Morrissey

World Breastfeeding Week- My Story

The sun had finally dawned on a long, long night. I think I maybe had an hours sleep all up and only because I gave up and lay in bed shivering with no blankets and left a baby attached to the breast where she apparently wanted to live. As the morning light peaked through my window, I became aware that I felt very, very cold.

After a few minutes I noticed all my joints aching and a fevered shiver running through me. I called my hubby over to take the baby and told him I think I might be dying. Dramatic, yes, but if you had recently been cut open and had a pair of babies pulled out of you (like some sort of barbaric babushka doll) and slept a grand total of 10 hours in the two weeks since that, you too might think crazy things.

Dragging myself to sit up on the edge of the bed I promptly threw up inside the pants I had been intending to pull on, then started sobbing and couldn’t stop. Hubby took my temperature- 38.5. I couldn’t speak much because I couldn’t stop sobbing. I then noticed the breast that had been a dummy all night was incredibly hot and swollen. Fabulous, I thought. This must be mastitis. I feel like I’m going to die.

I rang some family members, and Nanna came running so hubby could drag me and my newborn twins off to the GP. I begged another family member to come help me with the babies, but they insisted I would be fine with 1 adult, 1 decrepit crying mess of an adult, and two babies. I didn’t agree, but you can’t really argue in that state.

I didn’t know much about mastitis then, except that you usually need antibiotics and ultrasound might help if I could get myself there. Panadol brought my temp down really well, which was great because driving around in a state of fevered sobbing whilst babies scream at you from the backseat was not my idea of a good day out.

I’m not really sure if antibiotics help or not. I know, now, that they are a bit hit and miss with mastitis. But later that day I stumbled into a colleagues’ office and begged her to give me some ultrasound. Much to my surprise, the ultrasound shifted the firm area of swelling in my breast. My soft, milk flowing breast was back!

I discovered in the weeks after this episode that both my babies were tongue tied, which contributed to a pretty poor latch from one of the babies and generally left my breast pretty engorged. We followed up all those challenges with reflux, multiple food protein intolerance and a heavily restricted diet for myself.

Breastfeeding can be a really tricky point for so many mums. If you tried and felt like you failed your goals, it can be so hard to talk about. But as women and mothers we need to be here to hold each other up however our journey looks. Some of us need to not breastfeed for a plethora of reasons. World Breastfeeding Week is all about celebrating and supporting all the mums who set out on that feat, however they went along that journey.

After 4 months of breastfeeding my twins, I sat across the table from two specialist psychiatric health professionals. I had not slept in so long and severe post-natal anxiety and depression had settled itself around my mind. They tried to insist that switching to formula would solve my mental health issues. At the time I was too exhausted to try and get them to understand. I adored my babies, but my mental health had sucked away almost every possible avenue I had for connecting with them. It’s hard to talk and smile to your babbling babies when you can’t stop crying. Breastfeeding was my connection. Whether I was sad, or exhausted, or anxiety was plaguing my mind- I could breastfeed. That was the connection that tethered me to motherhood because it persevered no matter what the state of my mind.

And that’s why I ended up feeding them until I unexpectedly fell pregnant when they were 14 months old and my milk totally stopped. I loved breastfeeding them. It was HARD. There were SO many hurdles. Somehow, we overcame them all and I am so grateful for that. Even though we made it so far I carried a lot of sadness and grief when we stopped. I always wanted to make it to 2 years, but in my journey breastfeeding my four kids we only ever made it to 14 months for lots of reasons. And it was always sad when stopped. I love having my body to myself but I definitely miss those snuggly morning breastfeeds with a sweet squishy baby filling my arms. So Mums- wherever you are at, whatever your journey looked like I just want to give you a pat on the back. Whether you fed for a day or a few years, you deserve to celebrate in a week like this.

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