"I was advised to triple feed, which consisted of offering each breast to Season, pumping, and then topping her up with my expressed breast milk. It was such an intensive protocol. I never imagined this for myself. I would do two hourly sessions dedicated to a single feed, and by the time I had finished, I would have to do it all over again."
We are so grateful to be in conversation with a woman who is one of our most inspiring local mama muses, Fabienne Costa, or you may know her as Fab from YCL Jewels.
Fabienne has received numerous accolades for her achievements in establishing her iconic brand from a young age, with zero start-up capital, into a multi-award winning and internationally recognised jewellery label.
Fab recently embarked on her greatest journey yet – motherhood – where she openly shared her two-year conception and IVF journey across her social media community, with the intention to inspire and bring hope to women across the world who may be navigating a similar pathway to conception.
Fabienne is sincere, refreshingly down to earth, strong willed and an inspiration to us in more facets than one. Settle in and read below as we unveil our ‘Ten Questions in Ten Minutes’ with Fab about the complex challenges faced during her early breastfeeding season, her daily routine and rituals, how she juggles it all and so much more. We are so grateful for her time and wisdom shared.
Thank you so much for chatting to us Fab we know you’re one busy mama! Firstly, can you tell our beautiful motherhood a little about who you are, who’s in your family and what you do?
My name is Fabienne, I am 30 years old living on the southern end of the beautiful Gold Coast with my partner Dale & daughter Season, whippet Opal & two cats Salem & Spirit. I am the founder & CEO of a Gold Coast based jewellery brand called YCL Jewels.
In the process of becoming a mother, the illusion of your old self can fall away and your new world as you know it deepens. Have you seen a shift in your self identity, and what has this transition looked like for you?
I am evolving as a woman and a mother every single day; we all are. Motherhood has been a huge shift for me, yet also in many ways I do still feel myself, just in the company of a precious little daughter who gave me the greatest gift ever imaginable, she made me a mama. Despite the fact I am a very disciplined and hardworking woman, I am also a Taurus at heart, and I am very capable of ‘the art of lounging’ on the couch, all-day-long. Guilty! Having a baby however has made me in some ways much more effective with my time, and definitely more grateful for the moments I actually get to relax and lounge on the couch, they certainly are a rare occasion these days, haha!
Mammae is a brand steeped in the mother’s journey, lending close attention to the womanly art of breastfeeding, honouring self-compassion, self-love and self-care ritual. What does the art of ritual mean to you and what are you doing to nurture yourself in mind, body and soul throughout your early postpartum season?
With the fullness of everyday life, especially for mothers in today’s modern society, life really can feel noisy, out of balance and chaotic. Rituals are a wonderful practice to connect back to our true self. For me, exercise has been a key factor in bringing about balance, as well as spending time in nature each day, connecting to my angel cards and time spent in solitude journalling, even a short 10 minutes spared. It’s vital that I am prioritising my daily self-care rituals as they are essential for me to be the best mama that I can be to Season.
As a modern woman transitioning from maiden to mother, we often hold the belief that breastfeeding is a natural and instinctive skill; a beautiful moment shared with unparalleled joy and ease. Yet our society is mostly responsible for participating in this backward and misguided interpretation. So much so, did you enter into motherhood with any prior conceptions about how you wanted to feed your baby and how this would naturally transpire for you and your family? What beliefs have been instilled in you as a young woman?
Oh definitely! I couldn’t agree with you more. In all honesty, I thought I would just offer my breast and Season would effortlessly latch and suckle just as we observe in the media or perhaps gazing at a loving mother nursing her baby in public. I also held the belief that I wouldn't need to lean upon offering her formula and I was greatly against it. Yet as the universe teaches us, what we resist, persists.
"Today, we mix feed and it works so well for Season and our family. Now that she is getting older, she has well established her feeding, I couldn’t be happier. I am so proud of my strength and resilience to persevere through some of the hardest days of mothering."
We exchanged many text messages together throughout the early waking hours of your ‘newborn haze’ sharing raw conversations around the countless challenges that you were enduring as a vulnerable postpartum woman. Can you share with our readers a little more about your breastfeeding journey? How did it start and where are you both today?
Mother to mother, we certainly did! You were such a great support to me Erin, thank you. I really struggled with my milk supply in those early months and as a result, Season was gaining weight ever so slowly. The fear and worry was instilled in me. The guilt and anxiety was felt deeply.
I was advised to triple feed, which consisted of offering each breast to Season, pumping, and then topping her up with my expressed breast milk. It was such an intensive protocol. I never imagined this for myself. I would do two hourly sessions dedicated to a single feed, and by the time I had finished, I would have to do it all over again. One night when my breasts felt completely empty and nothing was coming out when I pumped, Season cried inconsolably because she was so hungry. At this moment it all became bigger than me, I was defeated and I collapsed knowing that we had to give her a bottle of formula. Talking this through with you now, I’m reflecting on my words and I wish I was more gentle on myself, having known that by constantly putting Season to my breast, even just skin on skin contact, it would give me the chance to bond with my baby, soften into my body, increasing my feel good oxytocin hormones and allow my milk supply to increase and stabilise around the 3 month mark (give or take).
Today, we mix feed and it works so well for Season and our family. Now that she is getting older, she has well established her feeding, I couldn’t be happier. I am so proud of my strength and resilience to persevere through some of the hardest days of mothering. Season drains my breasts with greater ease and feeding her from my body is one of the most rewarding and beautiful moments that I get to share with her. I will treasure this time together forever, in all the highs and lows, I wouldn't change a thing.
Throughout the many challenging facets of your story from conception, birth and postpartum, do you ever feel as though your soul perhaps chose these difficult circumstances for a reason, all the while supporting your inner growth into the woman and mother you have now become? What has been the significant moment that’s defined you as a mother and how have you learned from this?
I have been humbled many times by my experiences in life, always learning and becoming more open-minded and grateful for it all, however that looks. After trying to fall pregnant naturally for 1 year, my partner and I decided to embark on an IVF journey. 3 transfers failed, we lost one embryo in the thawing process, which then left me with my lucky last embryo, Season. Had I not endured all that I did, I wouldn't have my beautiful daughter and for her, I would do it all over again, for eternity.
Hindsight is often a beautiful and insightful reflection; how was your birthing experience and what did you do to prepare for this?
I was in an incredibly softened and gentle space when giving birth, despite my birth plan going the complete opposite direction to what I would have hoped for. I prepared my mind and body connection all through my pregnancy, so even when my situation took an unexpected turn resulting in an emergency c-section, I was in complete surrender and trust, it was the most beautiful, empowering and transformative experience of my whole life.
You run an extremely successful business on the Gold Coast, YCL Jewels; you’re a new mama, a partner, a friend and more, but how do you balance it all Fab? What does a typical day look like?
I just know each day something has to give, I cannot do it all everyday. Some days I nail it in life and other days I just surrender to what Season needs. I have my set working days where Season comes into work with me, as well as my partner, so I am still able to breastfeed on demand and then he is able to take her. I am also scrupulous with who I choose to spend my time with and how social I am. As a devoted mother and a woman in business, I carefully choose the quality of relationships around me and I surround myself only with my nearest and dearest that support and love me wholeheartedly.
Mammae is a brand built on purpose, it exists through the fractures of my own personal journey into breastfeeding and postpartum, so naturally I hold a very deep reverence and connection with each intentional piece. What’s your most loved Mammae product that you closely resonate with and why?
I have fallen completely in love with my Ode Form Botanical Mist & Bosom Ritual Elixir. It’s transformed my self-care rituals at home and I can’t ever imagine my routine without them now. My current evening ritual feels even more special now that I am using safe and specific products that are nurturing to my sense of self and my breastfeeding journey. In particular, the Fenugreek in the Elixir has a deeply comforting scent and is also one of the many herbs I consume daily to support my milk supply, so lathering my body in an oil that shares this warmed scent is so luxurious to me.
What’s next for both YCL Jewels and Fabienne?
I’m so excited for the growth of YCL Jewels. We will launch a collection of new in-store offerings come 2023 in our Gold Coast showroom, as well as adding further solid gold pieces with some exciting collaborations and all round amazing collections.
Watch this space mama’s. x
Creative Direction | Erin Deger Founder, Mammae The Embodied Mother.
Visual | Tessa Kit, Studio Memoire for Mammae The Embodied Mother.