Meet Bernadeth Betchi, mother of two children, a two year old boy and a five month old girl. She is raising both in full partnership with her husband Nicolas, and they have been together for ten years. Bernadeth is originally from Cameroon and was raised in a culture where babywearing is everywhere, and having her own kids allowed her to continue with this very beautiful and important tradition. Bernadeth will be sharing her experience on the breastfeeding panel of the Babywearing in Canada Conference.
Bernadeth’s breastfeeding journey has been difficult, not because she has had supply issues. Nope. Both her children have had food allergies and food intolerances from birth, with her eldest being so severely allergic he has seven identified triggers that will send him into anaphalactic shock. This made breastfeeding extremely challenging as Bernadeth choose to alter her diet for the health of her children.
Bernadeth often jokes that her resume will now include a listing for breastfeeding, two highly allergic children because it requires serious commitment.
“Nursing my son who has multiple life treating allergies has forced me to completely change my diet to respond to his needs. We found a routine, safe meals, safe brands, support groups, a community of people just like us who know what we are going through and are behind us to cheer us on and hug is when we have set backs. Then my precious little girl came along with her own list which only made my list of non-safe food longer. I only got tested and found out I was also to avoid some foods.”
The past few months have been exhausting for Bernadeth as she tries to survive on the few foods she can eat to take care of her kids and take care of herself. She has been asked to consider stopping, this is her reply:
“Formula is not even an option. The allergies and sensitives are so major and there are so many that we would need to invent one just for us, and so far my milk is taking care of it. I am amazed at where this journey has taken us. A roller coaster of ups and downs. It is physically and emotionally draining. However, my family and I are healthier for it.”
This process has made Bernadeth and her family extremely aware of the impact of the environment. She is now extremely adept at reading labels, is teaching her son about his epipen, how and why he would need to use it. She also spends a lot of time educating the people around us. She finds the judgement she faces to be hard:
“It is not always easy and often a battle as people think that food allergies are only inventions and that they are not as bad as we explain them to be. I have two healthy and thriving babies, whose health have improved so much that you wouldn’t know they have dietary restrictions. Yes, there’s been s lot of sacrifices, but with those rewards, it’s clearly been worth it.”
Bernadeth is proud of what she has been able to accomplish. So is her husband.
Nicolas is very supportive of Bernadeth and with their shared outlook on parenting, tackle everything that comes their way with style, grace (and sometimes neither), making it through each stage as it comes.
Bernadeth co-owns TieLark.
Come and listen to Bernadeth and learn from other speakers at the Babywearing in Canada Conference. Are you coming – tickets on sale now.