When Ezra was born, I felt like my entire life had started over again. I was reborn and suddenly, I was responsible for this tiny, beautiful little baby.
Ezra was incredibly small. After his first few days of life, he weighed 2.9kg. He fit comfortably and easily into one of my arms. I still remember looking down at him and worrying that I was going to break him.
We stayed in the hospital for 3 nights after Ezra was born. Those few days were a rollercoaster.
Ezra didn't take to breastfeeding very well. He couldn't latch and nobody really knew why. There were no physical issues from either end, he just couldn't get the hang of it.
On our last night in the hospital, Ezra was starving. I'd spent the previous three days trying so hard for him to feed and then pumping, I was exhausted and my entire body hurt. Ezra started to cry and he wouldn't feed, nothing I was trying was working and he was hungry.
I called a midwife in and asked if she could get me some formula because he was hungry and I couldn't do it again that night. The midwife responded to me and said 'well I can get you formula but you will have to wait because I'm about to help that mother of twins breastfeed her children'. That was the first night I was 'mum-shamed'.
I was hurt. I was embarrassed. I felt angry, sad, like a terrible mother and just wanted to go home.
The next day, we woke up, checked out and went home. When we got home, I sent Karl off to the shops to get a tin of formula, because obviously, I couldn't do it any more. While he was out and I was home alone, I tried one more time with a nipple shield, as they recommended in the hospital.
He latched. Happily and easily. He fed and I didn't need the formula again (not any time soon anyway).
Unfortunately, Ezra was a bad sleeper (still now, at 2 years old, he is a bad sleeper!). For the first year of Ezra's life, he woke anywhere between 4-8 times a night. He fed quite a lot because we were using a nipple shield, he didn't fill up quite as much and needed to feed more frequently and for longer periods of time.
Karl helped where he could, but there's not much a man can do when the woman is breastfeeding.
As the days went on, I just continued to get more and more exhausted, I was barely sleeping. I didn't eat healthily or on some days, at all. I didn't drink much water. I didn't see my friends. I didn't shower. I definitely didn't take care of myself or take any time to myself.
I lost track of who I was and was suddenly living and breathing for my son.
At the time, I didn't think it was such a bad thing, I was his Mum so of course, he was my priority, but I started to feel myself slip away. I spent 50% of my day feeding or pumping and the other 40% of the day settling or cuddling my son and the remaining 10% of the day was spent on myself (which was supposed to be for everything else, including sleep).
As I slipped away, I felt myself going deeper and deeper into the darkness. At this point, I'd had a tough pregnancy, tough labour and tough newborn. I was hanging on by a thread.
At 4 months postpartum, I was diagnosed with severe postnatal depression and anxiety. I can't say it was a shock, I'd suffered quite badly previously so when the doctor told me, I kind of already knew. I'd been in the same territory before.
I kept pushing through. I kept breastfeeding with a nipple shield and pushed myself until I was near breaking point.
When Ezra was six months old, I decided it was time to stop breastfeeding. We switched over to formula and Karl was able to help so much more. I was able to sleep more and I finally had my body back to myself. The two things which I needed so badly.
It took a while, but I was becoming my own person again.
Now I look back and wish I'd stopped breastfeeding sooner. I think it would have all been a much easier process for me, but unfortunately, I was caught up in the 'breast is best' information that's constantly circling. I felt like I was a bad mother if I chose not to breastfeed, especially considering I had so much milk!
Over Ezra's first twelve months, he grew into a beautiful, cheeky, smart little boy. I wrote a short letter to Ezra on his first birthday and thought it would be nice to share here too.
With very little sleep, challenges and a lot of love, we survived your first year!
I can’t believe you’re one already. The past year has gone so quickly. One year ago, I met you and never knew a tiny human could be so loving, caring, supportive, funny and clever.
Every minute of the past year has been full of joy and love.
I have loved watching you grow, learning to roll over, sit, crawl, pull yourself up and now you are walking. You love absolutely everything, especially us, which makes me feel so lucky to be your mum.
Right now, your days are filled with so much love, exploring, learning and playing but before I know it, you’ll be talking and then off to school.
In just one year, you have shaped the sweetest little personality. Every day you amaze me and make me so proud as you try new things, refuse to give up and learn to live in this big world.