Hi there! I'm Patty, one of the photographers here at Barefoot Birth. I tagged along with the BFB Fam to see the screening of Breastmilk The Movie. It was really fun, and inspired me to take this opportunity to tell you about my breastfeeding journey because it is what actually brought me to birth photography, and birth photography is "my happy."
When Julie and I decided to get pregnant there was no question who would carry the baby, it was going to be me. I had always said jokingly that I would love to be pregnant if only it did not end in having a child! But seriously, I always thought I did not want kids but soon learned I was wrong.
While planning my pregnancy I thought, "I'll try to breastfeed her (I knew I was having a girl--I was right about the girl part, just not about the "a" part) for 6 months, then be done." When I discovered I was pregnant with twins, I didn't give much thought to breastfeeding at all. I was too concerned with making sure I had my twins vaginally to worry about how they would get fed. Hormones can do some crazy things!
I successfully birthed my twins vaginally in the OR of a hospital, and my breastfeeding journey began. I had eight weeks of excruciating pain from undiagnosed eczema on my nipples, and it was so bad I still have a chunk of my nipple missing from it! They looked (and felt!) like someone had used a cheese grater on them. But through all that, I had the most amazing reaction to oxytocin. Oxytocin is the feel-good hormone that helps you bond with your baby. It is also what makes you feel protective and want to care for your baby as fiercely as a mama bear. When you are nursing you release this lovely hormone, and I apparently react very strong to it. Though my nipples may have looked like raw meat, if my mommy-in-law (who I love more then most people on this planet) were to give my babies a bottle, even of my own breastmilk, I would want to hit her. I had an overwhelming need to breastfeed. I HAD to breastfeed, it was not a choice for me.
After countless phone consults with multiple CLCs, IBCLCs and nurses who misdiagnosed my problem, I went to a dermatologist who within 2 minutes of seeing me told me it was eczema. No one had asked the right question!
I nursed the girls for 3 and a half years and became a Certified Lactation Counselor and a La Leche League leader too. I felt that no one should have to suffer for 8 weeks the way I had, when if just one of those people would have asked the right questions I could have used a little cortisone and had a different experience.
I became a part of the birth community as a CLC and I had become really good with my camera, so when a friend asked me to photograph her birth I immediately said YES!!!!
When I shot that first birth, at the end, I wanted to go home so bad. Not because I had a bad time or wanted to leave the lovely family and the beautiful thing I had just witnessed, but because I NEEDED to be with my girls. I needed to hug them and love them. I had an oxytocin high, and once it wore off a bit I realized I had found my true passion: Birth Photography. I love everything about it. It makes my heart sing.
So here I was sitting in an audience of other breastfeeding advocates watching a movie about how hard it is to breastfeed in America, and all I could think was THANK GOD for my amazing experience.... And I am so happy that I have been able to help other moms experience that beautiful thing, feeding their baby from their breast.