I’m so conflicted about this issue and I debated writing about it since it seems to provoke strong feelings on either side of the debate, but it’s been bothering me and I usually work out things through writing.
Last week, we were looking at a picture of Squeaker with her plump baby arm stretched in the air and I made a joke about how gordita she was. My husband countered that she was not plump at all, not like other babies, but rather long (or he calls her tall even though she can’t stand). In fact, he stated, he thought it didn’t seem like she was much heavier than when we arrived in Chile a month ago.
We decided to weigh her in a very scientific manner (weigh myself, then weigh myself with baby). According to our dinky bathroom scale, she hadn’t put on any weight. That and her recent aversion to sleeping at night had us concerned that something was wrong.
Fortunately, we were able to get her in to the pediatrician’s the next day. The doctor said that actually she had gained .32 kilos, and while little, was not enough to be worrisome…yet.
We tried to explain that she cries and fusses for sometimes up to an hour before finally latching and feeding only to pull herself off or fall asleep. Beyond that, she doesn’t show signs of colic or reflux.
He didn’t listen long before jumping in. It took me a while to assimilate what he was saying, but we left with a prescription to feed her for five minutes on each side and then give her formula and his professional observation that I must be having a “supply issue”.
But that doesn’t seem right, I thought. No supply issues here. Trust me. And how would Squeaker even know the well was dry before checking, shall we say?
We bought the formula, a new bottle, and sat down to try and feed her. You would have thought we were trying to waterboard her, not give her professionally formulated baby formula so she could gain weight. It was a Chernobyl-grade meltdown. She screamed until she turned purple and we gave up. Maybe they should force-feed baby formula to terrorist suspects to get them to confess.
The doctor’s admonishment has brought up a lot issues for me. In the beginning, I didn’t want to breastfeed. Not at all. Actually, we argued about it, with my husband joining the ranks of the militant “breast is best” feminists and me saying that I was worried for medical reasons. After talking to several doctors and lactation consultants, I hesitantly decided to give it a go.
In the beginning, I hated it. But Squeaker loved it. She wanted boobies all day long (that’s part of where her nickname comes to play). After about four weeks, it got better, but I was still ambivalent. When she was six weeks old, I got the flu with bronchitis. I was really sick, like fever, raspy voice, hacking cough that made me double over sick. Squeaker got nothing. She was healthy throughout my two weeks of misery.
I started to change my mind.
On our trip to Chile, it was nice to not have to pack bottles, water, and formula. That was one less thing to worry about as I steered Squeaker’s caravan of crap through three airports in three different countries. I even ditched the nursing cover on the plane because no one was near us and I didn’t care at that point anyway.
In the first few weeks of being back in Chile, Squeaker was fussier than normal. I attributed it to the heat. That’s a major change. She went from frigid winter in Minnesota to scorching summer in Santiago. She went from never being outside, to spending a good chunk of the morning or early evening outside. She also met a host of new family and friends and her fragile schedule (that was hard to maintain period) was thrown out the window. If it was stressful on me, I can only imagine how her little baby brain was interpreting the major life change.
Now, I’m conflicted again. One the one hand, I have evidence of the powers of breastfeeding. On the other hand, I want her to be healthy and gain weight. On Friday, after we got back from the doctor, I cried a little. This is one of those things that a woman should be able to do, she should be able to feed her child, but somehow I’m failing her–or at least that’s how I feel.
Fortunately, I belong to a great group of expat women and got some recommendations for a lactation consultant. She’s coming out this afternoon and if this doesn’t do it, I want to take her to a different doctor and see if something is bothering her. It annoys me that he barely checked her before he decided I was the problem.
It’s hard to describe the panic and sadness I feel about this. I know that if I have to supplement her with formula, she’ll just have to get used to it. But, dare I say, I’m turning into a bit of a “lactivist” myself?
Wish us luck.