Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Repeat to self: do not panic.  Do not panic.  Do.  Not.  Panic.

So, we went back to the doctor today for a second weight check, since baby girl was not at her birth weight last week.  As of today, she's at - exactly the same weight as last week.  Just shy of eight pounds.  Not an ounce gained (or lost, as my husband tried to point out while I wept).

The nurse did not freak out.  I, of course, did.  For two reasons: one, I am - being a worrier and also a bit shy on sleep - convinced that this means there is something terribly, horribly wrong and that we are beginning a long slide into Something Awful And As Yet Unknown, which is the worst kind of Awful there is.  And two, because - although it is getting better by the day - breastfeeding is still definitely not painless, which means I have been feeding her eight times a day, every day, painfully, and she has not gained anything as a result.  This is depressing, to say the least.

I cried all the way home, imagining all the Bad Things and thinking about all the breast pain, and resolved not to torture myself with Dr. Google.  Which I mostly managed to avoid, although I did reassure myself by doing a little research on tongue-tied babies - who do, indeed, often have trouble gaining weight.  We have an appointment on Monday to get her frenulum clipped, so hopefully that will make a good difference for both of us.

Her physician was not available until Monday, which meant I had all weekend to worry.  But, at about 7:00pm, the physician called our home (inspiring in me lifelong devotion to this woman) to chat about it.  It turns out she had actually lost an ounce from last week (the baby, not the doctor.  I mean, maybe the doctor lost an ounce too, but she probably wouldn't call me at home to talk about this).  So, the doctor recommended supplementing with formula.

I had two reactions to this: one, profound disappointment at having to take that step.  Failing at breastfeeding (I know, I know, I'm not failing, but it feels that way) seems like Infertility Redux - yet one more thing my body is supposed to be able to do, and can't.  Or won't.  Or whatever.  One more reproductive arena in which I have given it my all and I still can't do it without intervention.  This is frustrating.

But I was also profoundly relieved: that she called, that there is something we can do, that she was concerned but not freaked out, that she was very supportive of breastfeeding and wants me to continue that, and return to exclusive breastfeeding as soon as we get some more weight on this kid.  I breastfed her tonight and gave her a bottle afterward, and she sucked down two ounces like there was no tomorrow - hopefully this will get us over the hump.

This isn't how I thought things would go.  I really thought my sheer willpower would make breastfeeding work.  (I also thought sheer willpower would get me pregnant; apparently I am a slow learner.)  I'm still a little fragile about this, so if you have rooted objections to formula, please don't let me know.  Sometimes, you do what you have to do.  You make the best decision you can and trust that even your mistakes will get worked into something okay in the end.

Either that, or my kid can blame a brief period of formula supplementation for her problems when she goes on Oprah in twenty years.  


  1. It's just so hard! Seriously, I understand the frustration and worry. Hope this helps get little one on track.

  2. You said it - you do what you have to do. And that's what being a great mom is all about!

  3. My boy had weight gaining problems in the beginning too, but with him it was the jaundice (quite bad, one point away from light therapy). I was so beyond disappointed that I had to supplement with formula, because in my head I was this perfect mother earth for whom breastfeeding was second nature. It was not. And the baby had no strength to suckle. And again I counted my chickens before they hatched.
    Anyway, two weeks later, with his strength back, we came back to breastfeeding only and we remained this was to this day. And hopefully to at least a couple of months more.
    I understand how God awful it feels to fail when you were so sure the hard part was already over and especially since it was marketed all over the place to be the easiest thing after breathing. But try to keep (again) your eyes on the prize: a healthy baby who gets stronger so that she can return to breastfeeding only, as you wished from the beginning. Give it two more weeks and this might be all sorted out by then.
    Fingers crossed! Enjoy these moments, they fly by.

  4. Exactly: You do what you have to do. And YES!! It is SO HARD!!! Believe me in a few weeks this whole thing will feel like a short glimps of time. It will get better and you will get back to full time nursing, I'm sure of it!

  5. I've had a couple very engaged, highly educated, very loving moms say to me sotto voce: don't breastfeed. If I had it to do over, they say, I'd use formula. I'm going to go for breastfeeding, and it seems to be a priority for you too. But it eases my anxiety to remember that breastfeeding isn't the only healthful option.

    At any rate, I hope you and your baby get to do exactly what YOU want soon!

  6. I don't have any experience with breast or bottle feeding but my opinion is to do whatever you must. Like the others said, doing what needs to be done for your baby is what makes you a good mom.

  7. Oh, wow, you have NOT failed at breast feeding! I think it's your pure determination and perseverance that have gotten you this far when you could have given up so many times. Seriously, you had so many hurdles to overcome - hopefully Monday's appointment will be the last of them. I understand why it must be frustrating to have to supplement with formula, but it sounds like it will help her get over the hump and possibly give your poor nipples a little break. You're just doing what's best for her, and soon she'll back back on 100% mama juice. You are doing an amazing job.

  8. You are doing GREAT! Hang in there...and do whatEVER you have to do for the moment. We are hardest on ourselves...I promise. If anyone is passing judgement on this...send 'em to me. I'll slap 'em around some. Keep up the good (and HARD) work.

  9. So sorry you are going through this- I went through the same thing with my baby but he ended up in the ICU for a week because of weight loss and dehydration. Formula saved his life. I know the guilt, the feeling of failure, the disappointment- I hope you are able to breastfeed- I couldn't, but will definitely try again if we have another. Check out this blog- it is wonderful- made me realize I am not alone!

  10. you have most definitely NOT failed at breastfeeding! you are doing a wonderful job! hang in there until baby can have the procedure next week and then take some time to learn a proper latch, and the two of you might be just fine! and even if you do need to continue giving some formula, you can continue to breastfeed--enjoying the wonderful moments that will happen while you do that. really. hang in there! you are not failing at all!

  11. First of all, you have not failed. You've got some very real obstacles to breastfeeding, and kudos to you for trying your hardest to work through them. Second of all, please PLEASE remember that every thing that happens in this first few weeks, good or bad, is clouded by the fact that you are sleep-deprived, your body is healing from a major trauma, and you've got hormones galore. Everything is fraught! It's so hard.

    Oh, and your baby is going to be just fine. It's easy to get obsessed with the weight gain, but in a few weeks you probably won't even think about it anymore.

  12. lol! I'm so sorry for all you're going thru, but you are just too funny! I'm going to try to breastfeed, too, and I hope it works out. But my mom has been really supportive of either option. She supplemented with formula both times, and she said Dad really appreciated getting to be part of the feeding/bonding process - something that he might not have been able to do if she had been able to exclusively breastfeed.
    And you have an awesome physician. :)

  13. dearest friend,
    I feel you, I really do. It sucks! ( pun just by accident)
    When we were in the hospital I was freaking out because my tiny baby was not making enough wet diapers - perfectly normal for a two day old - so we resorted to one feeding of formula and I felt like DCFS was going to come and take me away for a crime against my baby. But it did the trick and got things moving. I think we beat ourselves up so much about this and in the scheme of things a bit of formula - or even a lot of formula - is not a big deal - but it feels so big! I agree - it's the one "natural" thing we can do and have some control over so if we "fail" at it we feel like even bigger pieces of pooh. I got on the phone to the pediatrician's office while in the hospital and talked to a crabby nurse who was a bitch and said "big deal, just give her formula" and I sobbed my little hormone deprived heart out.
    I hope you get answers, I hope your sweet daughter gets her tongue treated and I hope that you are able to give her the nourishment she needs - via the breast or the bottle or both. Big hugs to you. Sorry it took me so long to get to this post. DW is holding baby and I have a computer on my lap as opposed to an I phone in my hand!((HUGS))