here we go again

I thought everything was going so well with Madison and breastfeeding, but earlier this week I discovered that she’s actually not gaining enough weight. That’s not to say that she’s unhealthy in any way, or that she’s starving in the least, but she should be gaining more weight.

We had a lot of struggles the first few days with breastfeeding, and she was losing more weight than is normal for newborns. It was a major struggle to get her back on track, but we got there with a lot of hard work and determination. After that, it seemed like she was doing extremely well. She’s strong physically, and other than the typical baby meltdowns and usual bottle battles, she’s a pretty happy baby. She is very alert and interested and is hitting all of her milestones ahead of time or right on track. She was also gaining 4 ounces per week, which is typical, though a bit on the low end.

Tummy time helps to strengthen neck and back muscles

Over the past two weeks, though, Maddy’s weight gain has slowed. Two weeks ago, she only gained 3 oz, which I didn’t think was a huge deal. But then last week she only gained two. When I asked the public health nurse about it, she sounded very concerned and said that she definitely isn’t getting enough to eat, and made me an appointment to come in for a consultation later in the week. I was devastated. I thought we were past all of this.

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes, I’ve felt really upset that “I haven’t been giving my baby enough food”. (I word it that way because that’s how I felt about it. Note the guilt and harshness.) Other times, I’ve been worried that I have a low milk supply. And still other times, I think – stop freaking out! She’s fine, she’s obviously strong, and that nurse is probably overreacting… Those are just guidelines, and are probably based on full Caucasian babies, Maddy is going to be smaller.

This morning we had our appointment, and it just happened to be with the nurse that was with us during our darkest day of early breastfeeding troubles. Her name is Katherine and she is wonderful. In fact, she was the one who gave me the inspiration for the name of this blog. She came to see us when Maddy was at her lowest weight. She had dropped from her birth weight of 6 lbs 8 oz to 5 lbs 14 oz.  Katherine left me notes for our breastfeeding plan, and at the end of it, she wrote – Remember, you are doing a wonderful job of mothering Madison. When I read those words, it brought tears to my eyes. I guess beneath all of that stress and tension around feeding, there was an underlying fear that I wasn’t a good enough mother because I couldn’t provide for my baby. Her words were a wonderful and needed reassurance that I was doing everything I could for my little girl.

Thankfully, today was much less stressful than that first visit with Katherine. We reviewed my log of feedings from the past several days, and she observed while Madison fed. (It’s funny how I can just whip a booby out now… Now that I’m breastfeeding, it seems like countless nurses have seen the Ladies.) In order to see how much milk Madison got during the feeding, she weighed her before and immediately after she ate. She got 2 ounces from the first side, then half an ounce from the second. I had thought that she had been getting more than that – 3-4 ounces from my estimation. I’m not sure why I thought that, but in any case, she was getting less than I had thought.

The plan now is to feed Maddy more often, especially during the evenings, and forget about the once a day bottle. (Funny, since I had pledged in a previous post that she would continue to get that bottle daily…) By eliminating that bottle, we are doing a couple of things. #1: One more feed off the boob. Milk production is a supply and demand job – the more often the breast is emptied, the more milk your body produces. One more feed may not seem like a lot, but at this point everything counts. #2: We are eliminating one instance of a negative feeding experience. Since we want Madison to eat more, we want the feeding experiences to be as positive as possible. However, the nurse said that I must get back to my life and activities, so if that means Dad or someone else has to give her a bottle when I go to play hockey or go to yoga, or just need some time out of the house, then they can give her a bottle at that time since it’s necessary. She reminded me that I CANNOT  feel guilty about doing these activities, and that my baby will not starve. She’ll take a bottle if she’s hungry enough, and if she can wait till I get back to eat, then she’ll just wait.

It’s a tough thing to get over that maternal worry. (Is it any wonder that maternal worry and eternal worry are so close??) In any case, we are putting this new plan into action right away. I play hockey tonight while Grandma and Auntie look after Maddy, and tomorrow night I am going to my work Christmas party. I will do my best to just enjoy myself and know that the munchkin is just fine.

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just shoot me

Yesterday I took Maddy for her 2 month immunization shots. The doc had told me that she would likely be pretty cranky afterwards, so it  might be worthwhile to see if someone could help me out with her that day. I asked my mom if she would be available, and being the loving Lola that she is, of course she said yes. I don’t think I knew what I was in for! I was expecting that Maddy would be cranky and fussy after her shots, so I was prepared for that, especially since I would have my mom to help out with her. However, I didn’t prepare myself for how hard it would be to watch Maddy cry!

Madison just before she's about to cry

Before the doctor came in, I took Mads out of her carseat and was holding her, cuddling her and telling her that she had to be brave. The doc checked her and took weight and length measurements. She is now 9 pounds and 9 ounces (on her 2 month birthday!) and is growing well. She’s small, in the 25th percentile, but she’s growing on her curve so the doctor has no concerns at all. This isn’t much of a surprise to me since I’m small, and Murray was quite small while he was growing up, too. He had his growth spurt in the 9th or 10th grade, and grew something like 7 inches in one year!! Apparently, it was really painful, but he is now 6 feet tall even though he was only a little 5 foot shorty in grade 8. As for me, I’m still a 5 foot 2 shorty. Hopefully Maddy gets her daddy’s height!

Then it came time for her shots. There are 3 needles, two go in one leg and one in the other. Babies don’t have enough muscle or fat in their arms yet, so they have to get their shots in the thigh. Now, I don’t like needles myself, so the panic started to set in once I saw how big those needles were! Was she really going to put those big things in my baby girl? Eek! I had to hold her sideways so that her left leg was facing the doc. She was already crying as if she knew what was going to happen. Maybe she was tuned in to my tension and it was making her upset. I couldn’t watch the needle go in, so I watched her face instead. Although she was already crying out loud, she screamed when the needle poked her. I felt like I had been shot! Her poor little face went all red and she was wailing. My heart broke. The worst part was having to turn her around and offer the other leg so she could get two more needles… There were tiny tears in her eyes.

As soon as it was over, I held her close, pressed to my chest and tried to comfort her. She cried for awhile longer, but eventually she calmed down so that it was just little sobs. How heartbreaking it is to see your little one cry out in pain! The doc left the room after giving me my flu shot, which normally I dread, but after watching my poor Mads scream like that, didn’t really phase me. My main concern was making sure she was ok and that I could comfort her. I breastfed her, and that seemed to really work to calm and soothe her. She fell asleep in my arms afterwards and I just whispered to her that I loved her and that it was all ok now.

I’m so glad that she doesn’t have to go through that for another two months now.

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