Following my Instincts

I’m very happy to share that Joshua is a great eater.  He loves to nurse, and it’s been relatively easy for us.  That said, the first few days were tough, compounded by the stress of repeat pediatrician visits.  Joshua weighed 9 lbs. 8 oz. at birth.  Naturally, he lost weight in the beginning.  At 3 days old, we went to his first pediatrician visit, and Joshua had lost weight.  They required us to go back at 4 days old, and then again at 5 days.  My milk came in when he was 4 days old, and so on day 5 he had gained weight.  However, the doctors wanted to continue the precautionary weighing, and so at 7 days old, we went back to confirm that was on the upswing with weight gain. 

Going back to the doctor’s office 4 out of our first 5 days at home was stressful.  The last thing I wanted to do was get dressed to leave the house and strap my baby into the car seat he hates.  Instead of following our own instincts and allowing Joshua to nurse on demand, when he was hungry, the doctor advised me to nurse him every two hours.  This meant waking him up and force-feeding him when he wasn’t hungry.  He’d doze off, and I’d frantically try to wake him by tickling his feet or taking off his warm clothes.  I sent my mom to the store to pick up a breast pump while I tearfully supplemented with formula (1 oz. after every other feeding) as advised by the doctor.  I began pumping, trying to bring up my milk supply so I could use that instead of formula.

Throughout these stressful days, I was never concerned that my baby was starving.  Yes, his weight had dropped down to 8 lbs. 10 oz., but that’s still pretty big for a newborn.  My fear was that, if he didn’t gain weight, we’d have to continue going to the doctor.  So the force-feeding continued until day 7, when the doctor told us we didn’t have to come back until he was 2 weeks old.  All the pumping (suggested by the pediatrician but deemed unnecessary by the lactation consultant) resulted in days of engorgement and leaking.  However, I refused to let all of those outside influences discourage me from nursing my son.

After day 7, we went back to nursing on demand.  This meant that Joshua sometimes nursed every hour, sometimes every 3 hours.  I refused to time how long he ate for or count how many feedings each day.  I also refused to count the number of wet and dirty diapers.  I let go of all of that, and he was fine.  When the lactation consultant called to check on us, I explained that requiring us to go back every day was stressful, and I thought it was unnecessary.  She tried to explain that most moms find it reassuring to monitor weight closely, but I told her I disagree.  Ed thinks it’s an insurance scam, and I’m not convinced that’s not the case.

At 2 weeks old, Joshua was eating like a champ and his weight was 10 lbs. 2 oz.  I wanted to tell off the whole pediatrician’s office, give them a piece of my mind.  They worried me for nothing, stressed me out, made me feel inadequate.  And that clearly was not the case at all.  At 1 month, he weighed 11 lbs. 3 oz.  He’s a big boy.

What I’ve learned from this whole experience is to trust my own instincts.  I believed that everything would be okay before they stressed me out, and it was.  In the future, when I have another child, I know what this experienced mom (ha!) will say: “I’m NOT coming in tomorrow, or the next day.  I’ll see you next week.”

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23 Comments

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23 Responses to Following my Instincts

  1. Alisa

    Amen! Awesome job! You have great instincts!

  2. Good for you! My daughter (at my request) brings her daughter over here three times/week so I can bond with the baby and so she can shower, clean house, or just relax. She brings the notebook with the feeding/elimination documentation and I dutifully complete it after feeding her with pumped off breast milk.

    Last week, Astrid didn’t poop … at all, after having that watery yellow stuff most every diaper common in breastfeeding babies. The pediatrician said that breastfed babies should have three poops/day and my daughter was worried. She was also worried because she’d been told to concern herself if there was a change in elimination. I thought, “YOU only pooped once/week and I was grateful that the babysitter was the one who usually changed that one.” A neighbor of mine (another breastfeeder, although considerably older) warned me that she’d be one to clog the toilets with big stools as she got older. So, my daughter called the doctor when Astrid still didn’t poop and the office people told her that it’s common for breastfed babies to go two weeks without a poop. Two weeks vs. 3 times/day = mixed messages.

    She finally pooped and all’s well that end’s well, but doctors and their mixed messages should realize the stress they put on new parents.

  3. Stand your ground and do what you know is best. Way to rock mama-hood, Girl!

    You’ll do the same thing with sleeping arrangements as time goes on. You will know what is best for your family. That’s another one of those areas where for me it was best to leave them guessing.

    I remember how horrible people thought I was for our sleeping/nursing arrangements. Lots of warnings about how I would make them clingy and they’d be 12 and still in my bed. When pediatricians asked, I just told them what they wanted to hear and snickered under my breath about how what they didn’t know wasn’t going to hurt my kid. The intuition of a strong intelligent woman is a very cool thing. We’ve raised the most confident, independent kids in spite of breaking every rule.

    You will, too. Sayin’ it again…..That’s one lucky little man to have you for his mama.

  4. Ahhhh… we went through the same thing. And I cried and cried. And I DID NOT feel like getting dressed to haul my sweet little baby into that office where they could poke, prod and weigh him AGAIN. Next time, I will schedule my 2 week appointment and stand firm.

    All that huffing and puffing and pumping took away from us getting to bond as a family. And I was really annoyed to have to pay our co-pay so many times in the first weeks. It seemed so ironic that we had a home birth specifically so that I could avoid all that drama and yet it called to reschedule every other day!

    So good for you for realizing where you need to stand so early! Less drama, more time snuggling, right? :D

  5. Abbie,

    You DO have wonderful instincts and I hope that you will share your feelings with the pediatricians.

    When you and your brothers were newborns, the first visit (at the very SAME pediatrician’s office) was always scheduled for 2 weeks. I’m sure you all lost the initial weight and then gained it back by the 2 wk. visit and no one was the wiser–or worried.

    I was outraged at what they put you and Ed through in the first week when you certainly had a very healthy baby. When a friend of mine (also with a 9+ lb. baby) was experiencing the very same trauma of re-weighing at the same office, I shared the same feelings with her.

    You are doing what is perfectly right for your baby, nursing on demand and following your instincts. You can’t go wrong with that!

    I had never heard of so many instances of babies that have trouble “latching on” until recently and am wondering if doctors “invented” that to give new parents something else to worry about.

    Angela is SO right about following the sleeping arrangements that are right for you—and which allow you all to get some sleep! She sounds very much like the “attachment parenting” pediatrician/nurse couple that I just read about who told their own doctors what they wanted to hear and then did what was right for them, until they decided to break their silence.

    As you know, despite what other family members and well-meaning friends may have said, I practiced extended nursing with you and your brothers, just because it was what was right for us. We also welcomed you guys into our bed as need be so that we could all get some sleep. You all grew up, moved out, and are fine. How ’bout we write a book together?

    Love you, you wonder-mom you!

    Love,
    Mom

  6. goatldi

    Good for you and your family. We learn as we grow. I was fortunate enough to have LaLeche League when I began to have babies and nurse. My son was nurse every hour round the clock for what seemed forever. My daughter was laid back and a “textbook baby”. They are all different. Allow me to add that they are now 36 years and 33 years and are healthy functioning members of our society.

    We need to reconstruct the chain of support that was in effect when mothers mentored mothers. Aunts, Grandmothers. We have become so fragmented and distanced from each other that we no longer communicate in appropriate fashion as to mentoring mothers and newborns.

    Congratulations on listening to your “little voice” and doing what you feel is right for your baby!

  7. Rob

    Just listen to your heart. It will tell you what to do!

  8. Good for you! I’m glad that you’re following your instincts, and I’m also glad that Joshua is thriving.

    I dealt with a very rough beginning with breastfeeding my first child, but my second child was easy-peasy. Finding the confidence to trust myself and my baby, as you already have, paved the way for that. I’m sure it will be the same for you.

  9. Mitty

    So sorry you had to go through all that! When I had my baby, they told me that all babies lose about a pound the first week and not to panic when it happened. Keep trusting your instincts!

  10. ctdaffodil

    Good for you – but keep pumping and freezing – that way if Ed is home and you are say – napping – there is something for the little guy to snack on until you wake up!! I wish I had someone else like hubby give 1 bottle a day – even just an ounce or 2 – because imagine how frustrating it is to have your back in traction at a PT appt, the cell phone rings and your mom is on the other end saying “You better get here – he is gonna suck his fist off and won’t take the bottle of EBM you left” Mean time your body lets down because you can hear the baby fussing…..Its just not a pretty moment in time…..The LaLeche people told me and I believed them in my sleep deprivedness bought into the “never give a bottle”….you can bet after baby #2 where more PT was required for my aging back – There was a little bit from the bottle given daily – by now with the aid of child #1 and his delight at getting to help.

    • For now I’m not pumping… last time I did (a week ago) I ended up with a clogged duct, since the baby ate the bottle when we were out and I didn’t pump… it was excrutiating and I’m swearing off the pump for a little while.

  11. I think you are a great momma and you’ve gained life experience. You have this journey and path to walk and the next baby will benefit from all you are learning now. Hugs. You are doing great!

  12. It’s so important to trust your instincts. It’s important to remember that pediatricians are great for the times when your child needs medical help but Mom and Dad are usually best for everything else. I’m glad this story had a happy ending and wish you and baby Joshua all the best.

  13. Good for you! Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job! :)

  14. Wanted to comment on another thing: sleeping in the big bed with mom and dad.

    We didn’t do it when my three were infants (although their dad got out of bed to bring the babies back to plug them in), but I’ve read countless blogs of women who have shared their beds with their children for the first X years and had absolutely NO problems thereafter.

    My daughter told me that her daughter is sleeping between them in the big bed now and I didn’t even raise an eyebrow. They’re creating a secure environment for her there and I’m creating a secure environment for her here. She feels safe when she can smell the familiar bodies and sleeps longer … which helps everyone.

  15. Good for you. Believe me, you will be the first to know if something is wrong with your baby. No one is a better parent than you are to YOUR baby, and no one knows him better. That said – of course your doctor will have information and advice that is worth listening to. Best of luck!

  16. Tia

    So sorry you had to learn that one the hard way. I really wish the doctors/nurses/etc… would just let moms be and stop trying to make everything into an issue. I am so glad your son is healthy & you are all doing good. :)

  17. I’m also reading the Sears’ “Nighttime Parenting” and really enjoying it, finding myself nodding along with them and enjoying the afirmations of my instincts!

  18. We definitely have similar stories, but add jaundice and a birth weight of 5lbs, 8oz and I got this: http://thegnomesmom.com/?p=250 I’m still really bitter about having to supplement 7 months later, though I thought I had gotten over it.

  19. Pingback: Learning From Two Years of Breastfeeding and Adding A New Baby | Natural Parents Network

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