Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Eugenia

The previous trip:
From 2016 to 2017, I was travelling on my bicycle with my partner throughout South
America. We did parts of Venezuela, we then explored Colombia’s beautiful beaches, we
pedalled our way through Ecuador and we found out about Lautaro (our baby) in Peru.
In Ecuador, we stayed with a family of 7 on the coast. We were always talking about life, our
plans, and how different our cultures were, especially with the mum and her grandchildren
...but I remember one day in particular when she started telling my partner and I that she
gave birth to all her sons and daughters in her house and how she squatted when the actual
birth was happening so she could ‘’release’’ them in a ‘’better’’ way...as it was something her
mum and grandmother had told her to do.
She also told us how she drank an alcoholic beverage her family had prepared as soon as
they found out they were pregnant and would leave it hidden under the earth so it could be
fermented and they would drink it a couple of hours after the birth. So yeah, you can imagine
this stuck in my head up until now. Why was she talking about all of these things if we
weren’t really thinking about becoming parents...yet.
Less than a month after that conversation happened, we were expecting our first child.

Planting some roots:

Back then we decided that the best thing to do in order to keep us all safe was to sell
everything and start making our way to Argentina - where my partner is from. Everything was
changing really fast, things were hectic, we didn’t know what to do or to think.
We decided we wanted to do things our way. This meant we would give birth in our house
(even though it is changing now, there is still a long way to go, home births are something
that is not very common to see in Argentina, especially as it has one the highest rates of c-
sections in South America). I mean, all I could remember was this woman in Ecuador telling
us her birthing stories and we just thought that was the path we wanted to take.

Lautaro’s personal choice:
I remember week 33 of my pregnancy as if it was yesterday. It was on a Monday morning
when my main midwife and 2 doulas (one of them was also pregnant at the time), would
come to the house for another check-up. I made breakfast, we drank some mates (a
traditional guarani beverage that is highly consumed in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay),
and we couldn’t stop laughing and talking.
Carolina -my midwife- felt the baby’s heartbeats, Marian and Mercedes -my doulas- were
touching the belly and giving me massages and they were being the most amazing women

and friends I could have ever asked for. The sun had come out that day and things were
truly magical...and they were about to be more intense and magical than ever before in life.
After they left I went to the town centre to get some things. I remember I felt very tired once I
got back home so I decided to lay down for a bit..and I just thought ‘’Ah, I’m really tired
today, must be all the walking, I can’t believe I used to do 100 km a day on a bicycle now I
can’t even walk from the bus stop to my house without getting tired’’

The lifelong trip:

After that everything comes and goes. I thought I had peed myself. It turns out my water
broke during sleep and I found myself calling Carolina, I was shocked, not knowing what to
do and wanting it to be all a dream. But it wasn’t. In reality, I had to take a taxi and headed to
the Maternity ward, and I waited and waited and waited. Our family dream of having our
baby in the house was now shattered ‘’as you will leave this maternity with your baby in your
arms’’.
I gave birth to Lautaro three days after that. I was amazed at how good he smelt and how he
was so tiny yet so big because he just came out of me. He was perfectly fine, we were really
lucky I thought, he weighed 2.270 ks and he had a nice length as well. I wanted to keep him
there with me, I had read so much about the first hour of life and I just wanted us to stay in
that moment forever. But reality is different, as we all know. The nurses took him away and
his dad followed them, so they could perform all these exams they do once the baby is born.
He was born at 8:30 pm, and at 10 pm I went to Neo for the first time to offer him my
blessings...my breasts.

Breastfeeding is the new journey:

Oh boy, little did I know. He latched immediately to my left breast, all the nurses were
surprised to see him eating away from his mum. Doctors wanted to keep him in Neocare
because of legal procedures and to see if he was sucking well enough to be released from
the ward. Every three hours I had to go to Neo to feed him. The first night they allowed me to
stay there for longer periods of time because I genuinely didn’t know what was happening or
what to do. His first latch was perfect...the second one not so much.
My body was not fully prepared to receive Lautaro. My colostrum was still up there
somewhere and during his feedings he would get really nervous (because I was also really
nervous), he would fall asleep (as I would fall asleep too), he would start crying (as I couldn’t
stop crying as I felt minimized because I couldn’t even offer him my milk). Of course, I now
look back and understand my hormones were dancing inside of me, and the situation was
really different from what I had imagined for 8 months in my head. I had just given birth!

On that Friday the lactation consultant came for a visit and she offered her tips and would
explain the importance of a correct latch. But I still wouldn’t get it right, I didn’t understand
why Lautaro wouldn’t eat if I was offering -perhaps too intensively because I wanted him to
gain weight and suck on properly so we could be in our house- and he would keep on
refusing.
All the nurses started coming to see me, and we all reached the conclusion that my nipples
were not really out for him to find a proper way of feeding, so the doctors decided to put a
feeding tube on Lautaro’s nose. It was horrible to see him like this, I felt even more guilty,
depressed like no one was really understanding how much I wanted to feed him. I kept
talking to the nurses and one of them suggested ‘’what if you pump yourself and we give him
your milk instead of formula?’’. And that is what saved us.
I started pumping myself and soon enough Lautaro was steadily gaining weight and he was
happy and well enough. I spoke to the doctors and asked them if we could give it another try
to breastfeeding and they agreed but ‘’Lautaro would still have the tube just in case though’’.
I realised I had to calm myself down first if I wanted Lautaro to latch on and feed himself. I
understood the importance of the milk I produce and how everything I eat would give him the
nutrients he needed as well. I came to terms with the way I gave birth because he was now
with us and he was getting better by the day. I realised I had to let go of many beliefs,
feelings of despair and sadness, because I now had met the truest joy, the truest light, and
the truest love, and above all, I realised we were so very lucky to be experiencing all of this
because it was a truly humbling experience.
Two weeks later we were officially on our way home.

Time is going by:
It wasn’t until Lautaro was born that I knew the meaning of the phrase ‘’time flies’’. He is now
7 months old, loves his boobies and his boobie time. He has perfectioned his feeding
techniques, well, to be fair both of us have. We sleep together so he is on a ‘’self-service’’
regime during night feedings, and nowadays two of his teeth are coming out, so you can
imagine what is like: breastfeeding 24/7.
All our family members were telling us we should give him formula because we needed to
rest and they would explain how babies gain weight faster if they are formula-fed, (and if it is
your case I completely respect you and will never judge you), but for us as a family, for my
baby and I, for our relationship, breastfeeding was the only way we wanted to feed our son
and it was the right thing to do for us..still is.
I have now become a breastfeeding enthusiast, even if a couple of years ago a part of me
was still somehow ‘’shocked’’ whenever I saw someone breastfeeding. I love it, and I want to
normalize it, because it is the most normal, beautiful, mammal thing we do. We give love and
nurture our babies.