Friday, September 3, 2010

Second-Time Mom

Sorry for the long delay--we went out of town to visit Willow's other side of the family, and I will be back to tell you more about that, since there were buckets of cuteness and I'm not one to be stingy, but I figure a few weeks between posts about family members is probably not a bad thing.

Anyway I have less fun matters on my mind.  When we were in Massachusetts this past weekend, I told my sister-in-law that I pretend Willow isn't my first child, that I've had this whole other baby before, who is all grown up, and that I made tons of mistakes raising that kid and I was really cautious and scared and all those things that first-time mothers are, but that it all turned out fine.  It's a good strategy, and I really am very chill, relatively speaking (I suppose it depends on who you ask).

But I had my first tiny overreacting first-time mom moment yesterday, and it ended up translating into this much larger issue, and now everything that I was trying not to be scared of is, well, a little scary.

Willow had some weird goop in her diaper, and I played it safe (translation: I forgot that my imaginary older baby had funky diapers all the time and it never meant anything and that mothers are insane about their children's diapers and let's not give them complexes, shall we?) and I called her doctor.  They too played it safe, and so we went in.  To discover that the weird goop was in all likelihood the result of too much swallowing of saliva.  Duh.

Since we were only two weeks away from her nine-month checkup, they kindly saved me from a wasted trip and did the checkup yesterday.  Willow got her shots, got measured, and got weighed--and came up light.  In the last three months, she has put on only 6 ounces, and dropped from the 41st percentile to the tenth.

I know, I know.  Second-time moms don't worry about percentiles.   And I wouldn't if she had always been a small baby--Dave is not a large fellow, and I never thought we were going to have some amazonian child.  But the stall is weird, especially since it comes when she should, theoretically, start packing on the pounds, given that she's starting--and inhaling--solid foods.  The doctor said "feed her more."  How much more?  "As much as she'll eat."

And here I'd been thinking we were overfeeding her as it was (Willow will eat an entire banana for breakfast and still be clamoring for more.  A banana fills me up to the brim).  She doesn't feel underweight to me--and she's plenty tall.  Doesn't she look nice and chunky? 

Of course I'm obsessing over what the problem might be.  Not enough protein?  Birth control pills?  I started them about a month ago, and in that time, I have dropped two cup sizes, stopped leaking like a faucet, developed a very delayed letdown reflex, and stopped getting engorged every time Willow misses a feeding.  Now, I don't exactly miss any of those things (with the possible exception of at least one cup size--I'm smaller than I was before I got pregnant!) but if they are an indication of lower supply, which I can only imagine they are, then the pill certainly isn't helping matters. 

This sort of worrying bleeds over into everything.  Willow has been horrifically fussy lately, and doesn't seem to believe in sleeping.  Is this because she's starving all the time?  I'm resisting the urge--so far--to offer her food/milk/both every time she cries, but is that even wise?  Should I be doing just that?


Laura said...

I think all breastfed babies plateau at about that age and I think just about all pediatricians freak out about it. My ped certainly did. And then my mom told me I was starving my baby and my MIL yelled at me and the doc said to give her formula. My understanding is that nursed babies go through these lulls in weight along the way and it makes everybody panic because formula fed babies are more consistent and throw off the numbers. I've heard that from just about every nursing mom. It seems to happen around 8-10 months. Trust your instincts. If you think she's not eating well, then feed her more. If you think she's eating like a horse, then that's probably not an issue. Parker was always messed up after a trip and usually took a few weeks to get back to her normal self. So it could just be that. As for the numbers.... man, I've been dealing with that for 6.5 years. My kid weighs as much as a 2 year old. But she's voracious and healthy and pink and happy and smart and I don't see anything wrong with her, at least not physically, so I don't care how much she weighs. Numbers are stupid. It's a doctor's job to analyze the numbers because they don't know your kid and that's all they have to go on. They mean well, but they make good moms nervous. I believe you feed a kid who's hungry, don't feed a kid who's not, and trust your instincts about your child's health and well-being. I believe all tuned-in moms know when something is wrong. You just do. Like when P broke her leg. It didn't look like she really hurt herself. There was no indication that something was really wrong. But she looked at me and I looked at her and I just knew. You just know. 99% of the time, a child who eats well and poops well is fine, regardless of numbers. Is she teething? Is that why there was all the mucus or did she have a cold or something? It is pretty gross, isn't it? I should probably go back and read what you wrote again to see if anything I'm saying is actually relevant before I post it, but.... oh whatever. If it isn't, ignore me.

Anyway, as the mom of the world's healthiest 30 lb. 6 year old, I'm just saying to ignore the numbers. They mean squat. At least in photos, that is one perfectly healthy looking kid you've got there.

Nikki Van De Car said...

Laura, you rock. You are my chilled-out mom Yoda. Thank you.

Laura said...

Well, I don't know about that. I'm hardly chill. Ask my therapist! And the pill can definitely reduce your supply. Has the number of wet diapers dwindled significantly? I wasn't on the pill because the doctor swore I was essentially infertile... and what a funny prank that was. You could always drink the teas, eat the oatmeal, indulge in a Guinness and all that to help boost your supply (hint- start with the Guinness). And they have prescriptions. But I'm telling you, your daughter glows. Unhealthy children don't glow.

Hang in there, kid. You're good at this. :)

kate said...

Seconding Laura's yodaisms...but acknowledging that it's easier said than done (as one who, as you know, had my own supply and weight gain issues). And I doubt you'd ever need this, but if you find that you do, I have buckets of milk-making pills that recently arrived from the other side of the world. I'll share if you find yourself in need.

Izzy said...

Hi! I had a similar issue with mine at about 6 months and panicked too! But I'd just moved house and straight after went abroad to visit the in-laws. It seemed to sort itself out and he'd put on a load of weight at his 7 month check-up.

Also, I discovered that breast-fed babies tend to be leaner than bottle fed ones. It seems the WHO have even produced new weight charts to take this into account. Google it and you'll find them.

I think you sound like you're doing a great job!

Kitty said...

Feed her as much as she wants, but at set intervals. I understand your reluctance to feed her anytime she cries, and I think that's wise (hey, that rhymed!). My son is on the smaller side, and he can still shovel away more food in one sitting than I'm comfortable doing...and he just got past the 15th percentile in weight. Sometimes I think I'm feeding him too much, but babies and young toddlers need it! Besides, they know when to stop. Most likely, she'll have days when she just picks at her food, and days when she absolutely inhales it. Just keep it to three meals and two snacks a day, rather than grazing all day long, and she'll plump up. She's adorable!
Have you considered supplementing with formula? She probably doesn't need it if you increase her solid food intake, but if you notice your supply dwindling, it might be worth it to give her one prepared bottle a day.