Breastfeeding and Powerpoints
And learning to love both.
Breastfeeding and Powerpoints are two things that I never considered I would have to juggle in the early throes of motherhood. And I mean literally juggle. With little Z feeding at my breast and my Macbook precariously teetering on the edge of my knee, I proceeded to mock up our presentation for our start-up idea. Whilst Z dreamed himself into a milk coma, I placed our dream into a digital landscape that could be understood by those not living in our sleep-deprived heads.
In about a week, we would have our first meeting with Blue Chilli, to put into words, the thing that Justin and I had recounted in countless discussions. It would also be one of the first serious adult conversation I would have to hold, post baby. Amazing how days, if not months can go on with conversation solely revolving around your baby’s poop and sleep patterns. But I digress, almost a little too willingly.
The idea for our fashion product, styylr, was originally born on one of our many walks, at the end of our working day, when we lived in Berlin. Discussing the tech scene and our desperation to be in on it was what led us to the fateful idea which encompassed both our interest and knowledge base.
Fast forward a pregnancy, and a trip back home to Australia, to have little Z where upon speaking to a friend of ours, Hugh, we came to know about a start-up accelerator known as Blue Chilli. Hugh, was already part of their mentorship program and working on his very own idea. He filled us in on the process so far and even wrote a blog on it. Seemingly naive, sleep-deprived, therefore rationale-deprived, Justin and I set ourselves on the mission to apply for the mentorship and early funding program.
Not only did this mean that all our conversation would have to be placed on paper and formalised in a way which could be communicated to others, it also meant, we would have to get creative on how our time would be split in order to work on our respective elements of the business. Enter, grandparents, great-grandparents, jungle gyms and anyone who could keep an eye on Z when he wasn’t in his incessant phase of feeding hourly.
We had an initial conversation with Ren, who assessed whether the idea was along the lines of what BC was looking for within their portfolio and after much excitement from her part and a simple statement like “I can’t wait for this to launch — I need this!”, we walked out, chests puffed and suddenly very awake for the first time in a long time. The reality that someone else other than ourselves thought the idea had merit, really lit a fire within us.
The next, more daunting step was to meet Joe Kiely — who we were told could assess within a 15 minute meeting whether our idea would work or not. To add to the already daunting meeting, we had the added complication of not having a babysitter for little Z. Joe flew in from interstate only once a month for these meetings — so we decided to postpone the meeting for the following month. Joe, kindly offered that we could bring Z to the meeting. Whether that was a joke or not, we didn’t care- we jumped on the opportunity. No point wasting another month right?
We got our pitch ready, powerpoint hastily completed between and during feeds, then packed Z up in his little pram and headed to the city. Fed him in a nearby cafe so that he would sleep the whole way through the meeting whilst Justin went over his talking points. Fully fed meant he would sleep through the whole meeting right? Wrong. Z fell asleep after the feed but as soon as we met and shook hands with Joe, Z was wide awake and eager to participate. Through the meeting, I struggled to stay focused through Z’s babble, but thankfully Justin was there to keep us on track. At one point, it occurred to me that Zaiah was still hungry, so as his babble became increasingly close to a hungry wail, I decided to breastfeed Z. In the middle of one of our most important meetings. THIS, was a new level. Breastfeeding through a pitch meeting.
Let me preface that I never thought I would be the type of mum that would be comfortable feeding my child in a cafe or any public setting — but I very quickly learned that if Z is hungry, my instinct will always be to feed and leave the rogue breast pads, nip slips, and boob flashes as a secondary notion. So, back to Z and our most important meeting. I made the decision — mainly because it was increasingly becoming hard to continue a conversation with Joe — to take Z out of his pram and breastfeed him. Mid-meeting.
I didn’t apologise for it, I just muttered a little self-consciously that I was going to feed Z. I used his swaddle to cover myself up as best as I could to give Z and myself a little bit of privacy. I felt comfortable and more at peace knowing that currently, everyone in the room was in the exact state they needed to be. I also felt comfortable thanks to the knowledge that Joe invited us to this meeting, knowing full well I had a newborn and what those complications would entail. Thank God for people and companies that are truly baby-friendly. Z fed, and we all concentrated a little more. It was at that moment, I realised that whatever needed to be done, would be done, but Z would never be placed as a second priority. One of our main aims with this start up was to always keep Z in the forefront. The multi tasking, late nights, early morning working hours, when he’s fast asleep, are so we can lead a better life with Z, spend more quality time with him (if you knew Z, you’d understand why) and bring him up in an environment where hustling should be second nature.
I digress. Back to the meeting. Z was (now) fully fed and sitting happily on my lap making slightly distracting cooing noises (again, no one ever told me my baby wouldn’t do exactly as I had planned in my head), Joe brought the meeting to a close. At that moment, he hit us with feedback we weren’t expecting — Justin and I were both floored. He thanked us for coming in and asked us to work further on the concept and business idea and that he’d like to keep in touch. I walked out of the room feeling disheartened, disillusioned and disappointed.
But the details of Joe’s feedback and what came next will have to wait for the next time I piece 15 mins here and there, tending to my clawing, currently snot-filled child to write the next blog post. Don’t hold your breath. It’ll come, just not tomorrow.
I write about my time as a 35 year old new mum to little one year old Z, navigating through life as a brown girl in a predominantly white world, and my struggles and triumphs whilst launching my start-up with my husband. You can find my other ramblings here: https://medium.com/@therealsureka/ and keep track of our start-up here: www.styylr.com. If you think this might be helpful for others on their entrepreneurial or parenting journey, recommend this article and share to your hearts (and my hearts) content.