So we've had a pretty major change around these parts over the last two weeks. It started two weeks ago when Eliza had her 4 month appointment and weighed in at 11 lbs, which was 4 oz. LESS then she'd weighed at 2 months. Our pediatrician immediately told me that my supply of breastmilk wasn't enough for her and that we needed to stop breastfeeding and give her formula from then on. I asked him if there were other options we could try first before totally giving up on nursing, such as nursing her more frequently to get my supply back up, pumping and nursing to build my supply, waking her before I go to bed at night to nurse her again, etc. His answer to all of those suggestions was "No- this is not an option- she needs formula." I was practically in tears in the office and was definitely in tears in the car once we'd left.
I spent the next day giving her formula while I chugged water, pumped, and drank Mother's Milk tea which promotes lactation. The pediatrician was right that my supply was low but it quickly came back and Eliza seemed satisfied when I went back to nursing her the following day, supplementing with a bottle of pumped breastmilk after if she still seemed hungry. On Friday (2 days later) we went to a breastfeeding support group at the local hospital and she weighed in there at 11 lbs, 5 oz.- she was gaining weight!
My parents came to visit over the weekend and I nursed her most of the time with an occasional bottle. She seemed happy and satisfied.
Tuesday morning we went in to the pediatrician for another weigh-in. I totally expected her to have gained some weight and was going to tell the pediatrician that we were done with him as telling me to immediately give up on breastfeeding had been the last straw in what I now see has been four years of condescending behavior and comments on his part. In fact, at 6 months the pediatrician told me that my breastmilk wasn't enough for LP as he wasn't gaining weight the way the pediatrician wanted him to. At the time I was a first-time mother, I was working three days a week and frantically trying to pump enough at work to get LP through his days at daycare, and I gave in very easily and stopped nursing LP. And I've regretted it ever since. I wasn't going to give in that easily this time around- not when there are so many ways to build your supply back up.
Unfortunately, Eliza had lost even more weight and was down to 10 lbs. 5 oz. I told the doctor that I had built my supply back up and she had seemed satisfied. His response, and I quote, was that I was "in denial. Any mother would have noticed that her baby was losing weight over a two-month period." He told me that the reason he'd told me to give her formula was so that we could determine whether it was a problem with my milk or whether there might be something else wrong. I was furious. What he had told me was to "stop breastfeeding now because I didn't have enough milk for her." Obviously I want what's best for my children, and obviously the fact that Eliza was losing weight was an issue, however I am NOT a negligent parent OR in denial. I explained to him that I have skinny babies and skinny kids- we'd assumed she was growing longer rather than fatter.
Once again it was all I could do not to break down in the exam room. We then scheduled yet another weight check for this past Friday.
We gave Eliza formula from Tuesday to Friday. At her weigh-in Friday afternoon she'd gained almost a pound. The pediatrician said, "well- that's good but we certainly don't want her to keep gaining weight so quickly! If you want to nurse her once or maybe twice a day you could."
I'd kept pumping while we gave her formula so I did still have milk to give her. I tried nursing her Saturday morning and while she seemed content immediately afterwards, within about half an hour she was screaming for a bottle. So that was that. Obviously my milk wasn't enough for her. As much as I would love to still be nursing her, and had planned to do so as long as I could, it's clear that she needs more.
The whole thing has been very upsetting in many ways. I'm upset that Eliza lost weight and we didn't notice and I feel horribly guilty about it. She hasn't rolled over on her own yet and I can only wonder if it's because she was malnourished (although I suspect that she simply suffers from "second child syndrome" and doesn't spend hours on her tummy every day with us encouraging her to roll over).
I'm also extremely upset at the way our pediatrician handled the entire situation. I felt zero support from him as a breastfeeding mother and I believe he could have and should have handled the situation very differently. He should have said something along the lines of, "Eliza doesn't seem to be getting what she needs. Why don't you try pumping for a few days while giving her formula and we'll see what happens- if she gains weight than we know it's something with your milk, and if she doesn't we'll know there's some other issue. Then we can decide what to do from there." Instead he immediately placed the blame on me and while in the end, the issue WAS with my milk, that's not how to go about solving the problem.
We're on the hunt for a new pediatrician now. He's always been rather condescending towards us and has always been too black or white but in the past I gave him the benefit of the doubt and just put up with it. No more. We're looking for a pediatrician who will work with us as a team to ensure the health of our children- not someone who tells me exactly what to do and doesn't listen to my opinion, suggestions or input.
I'm upset that Eliza is our last baby and now the nursing phase is over so abruptly. There was no gradual weaning, no signs that she was ready to stop or that I was. I wanted to hold onto those moments together as long as I could and now it's over in the blink of an eye, with no opportunity to think it through or prepare myself emotionally.
It seems to me as though, once again, my body couldn't do what it was supposed to. My body wouldn't cooperate during labor and I had to have a c-section. I had to stop nursing LP earlier than planned because he needed more than I could give him. I couldn't get pregnant or stay pregnant for so long. I'd hoped that breasfeeding Eliza was something that I could do right, and it had seemed to be going that way. She nursed so easily from the day she was born. My milk came in quickly, I never had mastitis or thrush or sore nipples. Everything was perfect. And now, again, my body has failed both me and my child and I can't provide for her in the way that I'd planned.
Most of the time I'm ok with it. I know I can provide for Eliza in other ways and we had four months of nursing and will continue to be bonded as mother and child. And damn it, I'm a good mother to my children. I know that. I have no problems giving her formula- that doesn't bother me- it never has. Both my kids had the occasional bottle of formula from day one. But at night, when I look at her sleeping in her crib it gets to me. In the dark, I cry for what we've lost and for what I'll never have again...