As if poor Grace and I haven’t been through enough so far…
Grace had her first doctor’s appointment today. I was a little concerned because I noticed she was starting to look a bit scrawny. Never having had a newborn before, I wasn’t sure when they started to put on weight. But I said to J last night on the phone that Grace looked a bit too thin.
Sure enough, when the HM weighed her at pediatrics this morning, Grace was down to 6 lbs 14 oz. That’s over a pound that she’s lost since she was born, and that’s a serious problem. She’s suffering from “failure to thrive,” which is just a doctor’s phrase meaning she’s not growing.
Of course, I feel really guilty about it. I nurse her every 2-3 hours except the 5-hour stretch that she sleeps at night. But the lactation consultant I saw today informed that there is no way she should be sleeping so long without nursing. She eats for 10-15 minutes per breast, but she doesn’t always take the second breast. The problem is, she doesn’t suck and suck and suck. She sucks for about two minutes, then falls asleep and half-heartedly goes at it if I stimulate her by scratching her head or tapping her chin. She just doesn’t suck like she should.
Logically I know it’s not my fault. I have tried really hard to nurse her as often as she should for as long as she should. The problem is as her mom, I feel like I’ve let her down in some way. And I wanted to nurse her and have that bond with her so badly.
I think that her having been transferred so soon after birth may have something to do with her problems nursing. Children’s Hospital HAD to give her something to eat since she was separated from me for so long, so I understand that she had to get a bottle. But even after I was there, they encouraged me to continue giving her a bottle after I was done nursing. I didn’t really want to do it, but I was pressured into it a couple of times. I think that may be the reason she’s such a lazy nurser. She’s got the suck down, at least for a short time, but she’s just biding her time till she gets what she considers the “real” food, which is an ounce or so of formula.
It gets me, though, how everyone reassured me that she was nursing just fine. I’ve been told by two OB nurses and a lactation consultant that we have the technique down pat, and that she’s latched on so well. But the problem is she’s not getting the fatty hind milk that comes later in a feeding in order to grow. All she’s getting is what comes down to skim milk that quenches a baby’s thirst right off the bat.
The lactation consultant has me feeding Grace every 45-90 minutes during the day, and 2-3 hours at night. This means, of course, that Grace is pretty much at the breast 24/7. This is to build up my milk supply. I wouldn’t mind so much if I were guaranteed that she were going to grow and that she were getting the hind milk. The problem is she’s not feeding long enough to get the hind milk, no matter what I do. The lactation consultant also gave me a breast shield since I have a flat nipple, but even that doesn’t really seem to help her on that breast. She’s just not that interested in nursing.
This means that she may just be a formula-fed baby. I really wish it didn’t come down to this, but I think it may be the best option right now. Grace needs a mommy who can take care of her, and right now I’m worn completely thin. (Of course, you may be wondering why I’m spending time on the computer right now if I’m so stressed out, but this is rather cathartic. Getting my feelings out on “paper” is making me feel a little better.) I have been crying all day because I feel like I’ve let my little girl down. I should have noticed earlier that she was losing weight and getting thin. I haven’t been able to hold a conversation with ANYONE on the phone without completely breaking down (which is why I haven’t called you, Caroline — please forgive me), and it’s hard on me to be like that in front of people. I totally broke down in front of J tonight when she was so kind to make me dinner tonight and keep me company. I’m just not normally that kind of person.
At least if I switch to formula I can be guaranteed that Grace will begin to thrive. I need her to gain weight, and even with this constant feeding schedule I can tell she’s not really getting enough hind milk. I don’t want to switch, but I think that if I do switch, I will be happier and more able to care for her. Maybe my body isn’t made for breastfeeding (there are some women like that), or maybe she got too much formula when she was at Children’s. Maybe it’s just not to be. Maybe the next baby will be a good nurser. I don’t have any of these answers.
It scares me how thin she is. You can feel her ribs now, and her legs are wrinkly because they’ve lost all their fat. Her chin is pointed now instead of fat and rounded like it was when she was born.
I go back tomorrow to the lactation consultant, and I think I will just have to break down and switch her over to formula. This just isn’t working for us. I gave it my best shot, and I tried so very hard. Maybe it’s just not to be this time around.