Unexpected Emotional Day
Yesterday Baby Bird had her appointment for her second set of Immunizations and having gone through it once before we were less anxious this time around. In fact I was eager to go because they always measure and weigh your little one and plot them on the growth chart, and it’s kind of fun and exciting to see the human you created prosper exponentially. It serves as the little reassurance that, “yes you are doing a good job.”
And so our day began. A short car ride to the health clinic first thing in the morning. Nobody was ahead of us so we knew it would be a short wait. And sure enough they call us right away to do Baby Birds measurements. So off we go, stripping Baby Bird down to nothing but her dry diaper and plop her on the scale. It takes a minute to get the reading. And then there it is...but only reads 10lbs 8oz. My heart drops. And I say, “that can’t be right. She weighed 11lbs at her 12 week appointment and now she is 20 weeks!” So we try again, hopeful the scale just didn’t calibrate right. But it comes up again...10lbs 8oz. Still hoping it’s the scale we go and try the other scale. But it says the same thing. Papa Bird and I panic. And as we are waiting for the nurse to call us in we make a phone call to our doctor to see if we can get it as soon as possible.
The nurse calls us in, and goes over the numbers with us. And sure enough Baby Bird has lost weight in the last 8 weeks. And it’s absolutely gut wrenching. All I can hear in my head is this voice saying, “you’ve been starving your baby.” And it’s overwhelming. And I’m worried and scared. And I feel guilty and ashamed.
The nurse is so patient with us. She starts asking about how things are going. And we tell her in as much detail as possible. Baby bird has been a great baby. She sleeps well and she is generally pretty happy most of the time. She isn’t fussy and to this point we never thought she had any trouble feeding. And she’s always been small so no alarm bells for us. She’s also hitting all of her developmental milestones: smiling, rolling over both ways, showing interest in food. So we had this confidence that we were doing everything right. That she was growing appropriately. When in reality she has completed dropped off the growth chart.
I can’t even begin to describe this feeling. The terror. The anxiety. The guilt. It’s as though someone has literally pulled the life out of you. You can’t think straight. You’re in this weird zone of hopelessness and panic. You feel naive and defeated.
Thankfully our nurse was amazing. She reassured us that we haven’t done anything wrong. That Baby Bird hasn’t given us the right signals. And she goes on to tell us that we need to figure out if the trouble is in my milk supply or if Baby Bird has some kind of stomach issue. She is thorough and knows we need a plan before we completely unravel. She writes a referral to our doctor to get in that afternoon. She goes above and beyond to make sure we will figure everything out and get Baby Bird back on track. And I am ever so grateful for her taking the extra time, relating to me as a fellow experienced Mom, and understanding the instinctive need of protecting and providing absolutely everything for our child.
So off we go to the doctors office and we run over everything with her. She does a thorough checkup and everything looks good. In conclusion, we think it’s my milk supply and we formulate a plan to increase my milk production. She writes me a prescription to help boost my milk stores and I’m to feed Baby Bird every 3 hours on both breasts and then top her up with formula. I’m to wake her up at night or during a nap to ensure she is eating and stimulating my breasts every 3 hours.
We arrive home exhausted and in a fit of tears. And it’s so hard to not get sucked into the guilt vortex of udder depression. And I feel defeated. But I also feel angry. Angry at myself for not catching it sooner. Angry that I didn’t go and weigh her in between doctors appointments. Angry at the doctors for not monitoring it carefully enough when I mentioned I thought my milk supply was down (which I mentioned in October).
In saying all of this, my message is this. Two out of three women have trouble breastfeeding. So this scenario is not uncommon. Regardless of what you believe or not, there is this insane pressure to breastfeed your child. Yes, the health benefits are huge. But the education that moms, especially new moms, are provided with is NOT ENOUGH. If you are planning on breastfeeding, ask questions and make sure you are aware of all the possible signs. Be a psycho about it. Because every doctor I’ve seen has told me different things. “Feed 6-8 times a day.”
“Feed 8-12times a day.”
“Feed one breast and at the next feeding feed off of the other breasts.”
“Always feed both breasts at each feeding.”
“Wake them up to feed.”
“Feed around there schedule.”
And it goes on, and on. The information is contradicting. And I understand that every woman and every child is different. And a lot of the success comes from knowing your baby and reading the signs. But when you are a first time Mom, how are you supposed to know what is right or wrong? When you read your baby, how do you know if your reading their signs correctly? Are they even giving you signs?
I had absolutely no trouble feeding Baby Bird her first 8 weeks. My milk supply was good. Her latching was great. She didn’t lose any weight from birth, just a steady increase. But somehow I find myself in this situation. And I don’t understand it. and I’m not sure if the doctors can even explain it. Maybe it’s hormonal? I don’t know.
But from this huge hiccup this is what I’ve learnt.
- Always go with your instincts. No matter who gives you reassurance, if you feel a change in your body, be the annoying parent and get answers.
- It’s the absolute worst feeling knowing you can’t feed your baby. But as challenging as this is, know that it isn’t your fault.
- It’s okay to hermit yourself in your home so you can get you and your baby on a schedule. You will be tired. It’s okay to say no to other people.
- Weigh your baby. Regardless of there being a weight issue, weigh your baby every two weeks. Just to make sure.
- You are not hopeless. You are not a bad mom. You will figure it out.
- Breastfeeding issues don’t always happen right away. They can come at anytime. Don’t have a false confidence about it. It’s okay to worry and question. But seek answers.
- A worried Mama Bird and Papa Bird