Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here's where I make it all about me.

I'm not sure exactly what I was hoping for, but I suppose that doesn't matter since I have no say anyway.

Test results only revealed one abnormal value, the one which indicates nutritional status.  It looks as though her nutrition level isn't what it ought to be.  This doesn't tell us a whole lot really.  The basic plan of action is to increase calories and see if she gains.

Why is that so depressing to me?

1.  The most calorie-dense, readily-absorbed source of nutrients is breastmilk.  I can't physically feed her any more often than I do now.  Since last week, I have begun to encourage her to eat longer, which puts a single feeding at well over 30 minutes, often much longer.  She eats 9x/day.  I'm exhausted.

2.  I have not had success with pumping, ever, and hand expression, even though I'm probably slightly better than average at it, yields very little after an extremely long nursing session.  I don't know how, at this point, to introduce any more breastmilk.

3.  I didn't have a breastfeeding goal when we started.  For months, I just said I had no specific end date in mind, that my breasts didn't expire, etc.  Very recently (within the last month?) I decided that my goal was no formula.  We made it nine months, what's another three?  I didn't have weaning plan set for one year, but if we made it that long we could give her cow's milk, etc. if we needed/wanted to supplement.  I have no beef with formula, I just didn't want to buy it if I could make healthy baby milk for free.

4.  Which means, essentially, that the milk I'm making is not sufficient.  Either the quantity or the quality is not enough.  I'm feeding her an effing ton, and she's not gaining.  So it's me.  My milk.  My fault.  (yeah, I know what I'd say to me if I were you, but I still feel like this.  Telling me it's silly will not help.)  Once again, my body has failed at something.  The doctor kept saying over and over that it was no reflection on me, that I didn't do anything wrong, that we've gone longer than most, blah, blah, blah, but really?  It couldn't be any more personal.  I've been starving my baby.  And I didn't notice.  

(and yes, I know that 5oz isn't really obvious.  but I didn't pick up on a lack of growth either.  maybe I couldn't have seen it.  maybe no one would have.  but the bottom line is that I'm her mother and magical powers or not, I didn't.  so I feel like crap.)

5.  I have to supplement with something.  It can be bottled (sippy cup) breastmilk, formula, solid foods, or a combination.  For the time being, I've chosen to increase breastfeeds and increase solids.  It's possible that this alone will help.

6.  I hate, HATE that this will prove the MILs, the grandmas of the world right.  ("you need to feed that baby"  "when are you going to stop nursing and feed her real food?" etc, blah.)  From what I understand, this isn't a normal outcome, but that's not what they'll hear.  I know it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, but I can't exactly ignore it either.  It's hard enough being the pioneer in the family in the first place.

7.  There is a teeny tiny chance that she is getting everything she needs and is still not gaining for some reason.  This is not very likely.  If so, it would (obviously) be bad.  If she has not gained in one month, we'll have earned a trip to the hospital.  I don't want to think about this.  I'd much rather the problem be me than her.

So, the plan, for now at least, is to stop crying about it, increase time spent at the breast, and be consistent with giving Birdie three additional meals per day of table food.  I know the ped wanted me to give her an extra (cup) feed of milk/formula, but I want to try this first (I think.  I'm still digesting a little.) which is why I asked for a two-week weight check in addition to the one-month.  If she hasn't gained in two weeks, I can re-evaluate and try something else before we get to the hospital point.

Also, sincere apologies if I've been short with you via email.  I'm worried (and there are other things going on now too) and feeling generally defensive, so I know it's coming out where I don't mean it to.  I truly appreciate all your support, even if it doesn't sound like it.


Furrow said...

I'm sorry. I want to tell you not to feel bad, that it's not your fault, and that you are a wonderful mother, and I mean it, but I know that if I were in your shoes, I'd feel the same way about myself. So I just hope the extra feedings work. sounds like birdie is a healthy, bright, active child, so she'll likely bounce back on the weight thing with no repurcussions. A friend of mine recently went through this with her (formula fed) baby, and it all turned out fine with a few adjustments to meals.

Rachel said...

I went through this too, sort of. My son was only 5 months but he was "starving" from nursing too. My nursing goal was 6 months but once I realized I wasn't producing enough and introduced formula, he didn't want to nurse much and weaned himself.

My guess is that if you increase the solids, Birdie will gain the weight she needs too. My son is now 9 months and his need for food has increased greatly in the last couple of weeks. Your inability to produce enough breastmilk probably has something to do with age.

Hang in there! I am confident things will have improved in 2 weeks. Your plan sounds good.

Sarah said...

good luck with this. i think you have a very good plan. sounds like you're nursing a TON as it is (i have nowhere near your supply left at this point even though i don't supplement with formula either) so i think increasing table food is a good idea.

of course they are all different but just as another point of reference, over the last two months piper has worked up to 4 table food meals/day and down to just 4 nursing session a day (each no more than 5-10 minutes). sometimes i put what looks to me like a lot of food on her tray and she still asks for more so i just keep giving it to her until she's done. it makes me both happy and sad that she now loves spaghetti more than the mamajuice.

i won't patronize you because we would all feel awful in your position, but i really think you're doing the right thing and wish you the best of luck with it!

Irish Girl said...

I wish I could come over and sit with you and just let you talk this out. It sucks so bad that the feelings of "body hatred" linger even after we think we've resolved our infertility. I understand the feelings you're having all too well -- even though our causes are different. So I won't tell you it's silly. Promise.

It sounds to me like you've got a good plan in place for Birdie -- very reasonable goals and thoughts. I am a little concerned about YOU though. Being exhausted, worried about Birdie, along with all the other stuff I know you are coping with ... it is a lot for one woman! Please promise you'll also take care of yourself, ok?

Email whenever you are up to it. We can "chat" more there ;-)