7 lbs, 4.6 ozs

That’s what Molly weighed today at 2:15 p.m. This was our fifth visit to the pediatrician. When Molly was born on March 2, she weighed 7 lbs, 11 ozs. When we were all discharged from the hospital on March 4, Baby Sweet Potato was down to 7 lbs, 2 ozs. Then the following weigh-ins and waterworks and medical advice occurred:

Tuesday, March 6: Molly’s first pediatric appointment. Molly weighs in at 7 pounds. Eeks. As you know, Dear Reader, babies are expected to be back up to their birth weight at about the two-week mark. The doctor mentions the dreaded word “supplement.” I actually didn’t know I dreaded the word, but as soon as I hear it, the waterworks begin. The word “supplement” must be hormonally programmed to elicit a reaction, like a baby’s cries. The doc says, though, that because my milk just came in, we shouldn’t worry, but we should come back for a weight check in two days.

Thursday, March 8: Molly weighs 7 pounds .01 ounces. ARGH! The doctor is kind as I cry through the word “supplement” and tells us our mission is to feed feed feed the sweet potato. Hmm. We thought we were doing that. She tells us to come back the next day.

Friday, March 9: Molly weighs 7 pounds, 1 ounce. PROGRESS! But it’s not enough, of course, and we schedule another appointment for the next Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 13: Molly weighs 7 pounds, 1.6 ounces. Instant waterworks. The resident and our doctor come in and with kind eyes and gentle voices and tell us that supplementing is now necessary. More tears. I am certain there are women who would resist and insist that breast milk is the only thing that will touch their babies’ lips, but I am not one of them. I don’t believe that breast milk is the only correct way to feed and nurture a baby, so I’m not sure why I keep crying when I hear that we need to feed Baby Girl formula. But I do cry. I feel like a failure and, what’s more, I worry that my baby girl has been hungry for the last ten days while I insisted on feeding her exclusively through my body. I want to hug her and hold her and feed her until she is content and full and feels safe and warm and doesn’t ever worry about being hungry. I cry while the resident gives us formula and I cry when our doctor tells us to come back again on Friday. Everyone is nice and tells us we’re doing a good job, but I can’t help feeling like I’ve already failed Molly.

We start to supplement. I breast feed her until she I think she’s done, or my breasts are done, and then we give her formula, if she’ll take it. She spits up a lot. In fact, sometimes it’s like her mouth is a mini blowhole with a pretty, white eruption every few hours. We try to keep her upright, feed her slowly, burp her and do all the other tricks that we’ve been told about but, the bottom line is, it’s hard and it’s tiring. But we keep feeding her.

Friday, March 16: Molly weighs 7 lbs, 4.6 ounces. She gained three ounces in three days. We’re pretty happy about this, but then the doctor comes in. Our doctor is on vacation, so we’re greeted by another kind pediatrician with a calming voice who is sweet to Molly and nice to us. She tells us to feed Molly every three hours, even if that means waking her up. It really doesn’t, as she has never slept more than about three hours at a time (it’s possible there was a four-hour interval, but I’m pretty sure I just dreamed that). I start to cry again. I really thought I was going to make it through the appointment tear-free. Damnit. The doctor is extremely nice to me, telling me she has a six-month old and she gave up on breastfeeding because she found it too hard. This makes me feel better. She says we just need to keep doing what we’re doing and come back in a week. A week! We get a whole week without having to go to the doctor! It’s a bit of a reprieve.

So, we’re going to continue to breastfeed (well, Molly & I are) and we’re all going to continue to supplement her feedings with formula. I don’t know how long we’ll keep up this pattern. I don’t know if we’ll go back to exclusively breastfeeding if and when we get the green light to do so. I don’t know if we’ll switch over to more and more formula. All I know is that right now, I want my little girl to grow – I want to feed her belly and her brain and every other part that needs it. And because I don’t believe there is anything wrong with formula, and I feel I’m fairly educated about the studies out there on the subject, I feel my decision is informed.

As more and more upper middle class women choose and advocate breastfeeding, believing it best for their babies, more and more women are feeling guilty if they don’t choose breastfeeding, for whatever reason they make that choice. Like almost every single other parent out there, I, too, am doing what I believe is best for my baby. And right now, that means the sweet potato is going to get a little formula.


7 Responses to “7 lbs, 4.6 ozs”

  1. 1 Tammy March 17, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Bless your heart, Kate!

  2. 2 Terry March 17, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I just want to hug all 3 of you. These first few frantic, frazzled days are so hard. And when you are sleep-deprived, anxious and stressed, and maybe a little prone to expressing emotion with tears (I know whereof I speak), who knows whether your reaction to the doctors’ words are hormonally driven??

    You are doing exactly the right thing. Using information, common sense and your love for Molly as the way to reach a decision. That’s why I love that book I got you. So many many things women do to each other to make life hard and recreate cliques. Getting your baby enough to eat shouldn’t be one of them.

    You’ll be able to give Molly all the love she needs and it will have nothing to do with where her nutrition is coming from. And let’s help her turn this clique-stuff around…..so tiresome.

  3. 3 Andra March 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Ah–just came across this. Molly is doing great and you are doing great and certainly right by her! I pumped, pumped, pumped with Baley until I was blue in the face (and–er–other places…) and yet I heard the dreaded “failure to thrive,” which felt like a stab to my heart. I mean, what a term–it’s as if you’re technically keeping the little lass alive, but just barely, and she’s certainly not doing great! Ugh. I was so happy when I ditched the breast and the pump and the whole shebang. And Baley (all 8 weeks that she was) was none the wiser. And I was happier and I slept more. And so did she. And my girly is thriving now. You’re a great mama, Kate. Keep it up. There are no failures–just people who can’t or won’t adjust. PS I sobbed through that ENTIRE docs appointment and Dave caught a glimpse of my chart, which read “Mom appears a little overwhelmed.” I’LL SAY!!

  4. 4 Kristin March 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Hi sweets. Andra said it best – no failures. These first decisions you are making for Molly are so frought, I know, but you are doing phenomenally and I’m so proud of you.

    As I said in limited letters and words by text the other day, my sister went through this in almost exactly the same way and it was so hard, so I understand in that very small way. I left Tulsa after my first Maeve visit when she was two weeks old and just starting to edge her way back up to 7 lbs on the formula. I returned four weeks later for the baptism and she was so, so healthy and plump. It was so awesome to see her like that, it makes me emotional to type this.

    You are doing the right thing for Molly. And that makes you the very opposite of a failure. I love you.

  5. 5 Sara H March 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Hey Mama! Sounds like you’re doing absolutely everything you can and working so hard – and 3 ounces in 3 days is so cool! She’s going to have pretty baby dimples all over before you know it.

    I absolutely understand the tears. I think your hormones are all out of whack, and no matter how intellectually you can approach the breastfeeding/formula thing, on the other hand there’s the natural instinct and the society judgment thing working to make those tears inevitable. 🙂 I cried when I stopped breastfeeding at 3 months, even though I was soooo relieved, and I’m not a crier. Everyone’s boobs work different anyway. None of us has the same symptoms/cycles when it comes to other lady stuff, I don’t expect boobs would snap to perfection, so you gotta take the help where you can get it.

    Love the FB pics – she is really a cute baby. All babies are beautiful, but quite frankly, not all of them are cute. Yours is adorable. 🙂

  6. 6 Mary Lloyd March 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    My darling daughter and grandaughter……you are both doing great. And I totally trust your decisions to love and care for her. Hard yes. Hard yes. Molly could not be luckier to have such great parents. I will spare you any breastfeeding advice because you already know what it is. You were bottle feed and turned out perfect….love Mom

  7. 7 kateandgracie March 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I love you guys so much.

    And Sara, you are soooooo right. Everyone’s everything is different, so why would boobs be any different? Excellent — and very appreciated — point. I also really REALLY appreciate it when non-criers tell me about their crying during this time. Not that I want my non-criers to be criers or anything, but it really helps. Because I am a total crier, I feel like my cries aren’t taken so seriously (probably just by me) so it helps me immeasurably to know that even my non-crier friends (I’m looking at you Sara & Heather) have felt the waterworks.

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March 2012

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