The Dilemma

Little Dude had his six-month check up on Thursday. He now weighs exactly sixteen pounds, which puts him the 20th percentile or so for weight. That simply means that 80 percent of babies his age weigh more than he does, and 20 percent weigh less. That's really not all that bad, and our pediatrician isn't worried about him. But I am starting to worry a bit. You see, his weight and height were in the 75th percentile at his two month check up. He's been slowly falling down the chart for the last four months. He was also weighed in October at the county health office. If their scale was correct, he weighed 15 pounds then and has only gained one pound in the last two months.

I know everything about how some kids are just small and gain weight more slowly. S-Boogie only weighed about 17 pounds when she turned one, and even now at nearly three-and-a-half she barely hits 30. She's just a small person, and always has been. Her weight has stayed pretty consistently in the 10th percentile or so for her whole life. I also don't worry about Little Dude's development or anything. He's bright and friendly with people; he rolls both ways and can get himself across the living room and back; he can pick up objects, pass them back and forth, and put them in his mouth. He loves solid food and has gobbled up everything we've given him, even avocados. That's what's worrying me--I'm afraid my baby isn't getting enough to eat.

That is one of the central anxieties of breastfeeding--you never know how much your child is taking in. But there are plenty of signs you can watch for to make sure they are OK. And Little Dude is bright eyed and smooth skinned, so he's not totally undernourished. But he's also still chronically cranky and doesn't sleep well anymore. For the last month or so, feedings have turned into a battleground. He'll latch on and nurse for a few minutes. Then he'll pull away and scream at me, latch on again for bit and wrestle around, then pull off and scream some more. I'll try the other side with the same results. Usually we'll end the feeding in less that ten minutes; me, frustrated and him chomping on his hands, chomping on my shirt, and screaming at me. It could just be teething, but it's been this way for several weeks. It feels like an extended growth spurt, but no matter how many extra feedings or extra pumpings I add, the only thing we get is sore nipples and an angry baby. The other day I made him a four-ounce bottle of formula about half an hour after feeding him, and he grabbed it and drained it in about five minutes.

I'm getting really, really tempted to just switch over to bottles. At the same time, I'm nervous about making the wrong decision. I know breastmilk is the healthiest option for my baby; it's also the most convenient at five in the morning and it's definitely cheaper than the alternative. But, what's best for the baby may not be what's best for the whole family. Parenting is all about balancing needs, and though I usually try to give my kids' needs priority, sometimes mine have to come first. Because a happy, healthy mommy is also a need for children. And mentally, I can't handle too many more times of wrestling with an angry little monkey trying to chew my boobs off. I've also been realizing that I want to try antidepressants again, and I don't want to wait six more months for Little Dude to wean. I know there are some that I can take while breastfeeding, but I think the peace of mind from not trying to combine the two would help my stress level. And I really hope that my gut feeling that Little Dude will be happier if I give him more calories during the day is right. Because that would mean peace of mind for both of us.

Comments

Anonymous said…
If it's any consolation to you, I was never able to lactate enough to feed my babies (i.e., at all), and I have three formula fed healthy kids, all extremely bright, well-developed and pretty much normal.

What you've described with your son is what I experienced with my first baby within the first five weeks--he never seemed to be getting enough. I did the "drink more water and eat more food", extra pumping, etc...all I got were breast infections and ended up being hospitalized because of them. So I understand the frustration of wondering whether or not you're doing the best thing for your baby.

I guess I'd just tell you that you've given him six really good months of nutrition, so you can relax and do what feels best for both of you without being nervous about anything.

One great thing about formula...the dad can help with the feedings. My husband really loved that time with our babies, even at four and five in the morning.
Anonymous said…
I dried up with both kids. Savannah dove off the charts and weighed 11 lbs at her 6 mo checkup and her pediatrician still recommended breasfeeding when I stopped and gave her bottles.

When I dried up with Ethan I would nurse and then give him a bottle after he nursed until I was ready to quit nursing, that way he got fed and I was still happy.

I hope you get things sorted out. You are the mom and you know best. LD sounds just like Ethan when I was drying up. I thought he had an ear infection because he was so fussy. I feel really bad for you and LD. I am so grateful for formula but I love nursing and I'm glad I was able to do it for the short time I did. Just don't go into the mother's lounge for a little while. It might make you cry. It made me cry.
Anonymous said…
Also, I can mail you formula. I have a ton of extra if you want it. And you can see if you qualify for WIC and they would pay for it, and there are coupons online.
Anonymous said…
Hey, I think you did great if you nursed for six months. There's a point where the self-sacrifice involved with nursing--including the sacrifice of addressing your own needs--reaches the point of diminishing returns. You strike me as being incredibly patient and concerned with your kids needs, but you have your own as well! ;) I love that you said that having a happy and healthy mommy is also a need. I think I might write that down and put it on my bathroom mirror. You think I'm kidding.
Anonymous said…
Hey, I think you did great if you nursed for six months. There's a point where the self-sacrifice involved with nursing--including the sacrifice of addressing your own needs--reaches the point of diminishing returns. You strike me as being incredibly patient and concerned with your kids needs, but you have your own as well! ;) I love that you said that having a happy and healthy mommy is also a need. I think I might write that down and put it on my bathroom mirror. You think I'm kidding.
Mandi said…
What about pumping and giving him the breastmilk in a bottle for a while? Then you know how much he's getting.

I think I have heard that doing that also causes them to be less impatient at feedintg time, Breast milk doesn't come out instantly like a bottle, if they are really hungry and impatient, it causes the screaming and munching all over looking for a fast fix, which in turn, causes the milk let-down to go even slower causing more screaming, causing a really crappy cycle.

Or if your breast milk doesn't freeze/refrigerate well (mine never did) you could give him 2 or 3 oz of formula before sitting down to breastfeed. That way the formula last longer (buying less often) and he gets his fast fix. You could also try to pump a llittle while he has that bottle, to get your milk flowing for him...
Good luck!!
Anonymous said…
Ginta (The Monster) decided that he was done breast-feeding around 6-7 months. We've gone on WIC, and it's really not that bad; he also started having an evening meal at about 6 months and we added in others around 8-9 months. I figure you're going to be able to figure this out...S-Boogie's doing just fine. :)

We'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers here.
mamamormon said…
Just bottle feed, if you want to. It's SOOOOOOO going to be OK. :)

I could go ooooooon and ooooooooon about my first 2 preemies who I wrestled with breastfeeding and made myself miserable and then my easy 3rd baby who was better fed and happier. But I'll try to spare you. Long story short, tho - I look back and realize I...

1. ...was "starving" the first two kids. Not to be all dramatic, but I was. All so I could say I breast fed and was super mom.

2. ...made myself miserable for nothing. Mr. Mormon and I were both bottle fed, have great IQs (he's in MENSA), and are healthy as horses w/no ear problems, etc. The bottle ain't all bad. :) And there's probably more genetic influence in one's aptitude and health vs. breast/bottle.

Good luck!!!! Whatever you do - it'll be OK. But if you need to hear about moms who bottle fed and have great kids, give me a shout. :)
mamamormon said…
Oh - and I agree with McCulloch - it does sound just like my girls when I was drying up.
Melyngoch said…
Do whatever it takes to make antidepressants an option, I say.



(Love,

The Self-Appointed Poster Child For Psychotropic Pharmaceuticals)
Anonymous said…
Hey, you do what you gotta do woman. I'm sure you'll make the best choices for your kids and your family. Good luck.

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