Ah yes. Doctor Doom.
Doctor Doom is my military pediatrician. She has been dubbed Doctor Doom for her doom and gloom responses to our weekly weight checks.
We’ve had Daphne weighed each week since January (2.5 months straight). It’s like they just can’t get enough of Daphne. Or of weighing her.
Today, we had yet another weight check. This time it was with Dr. Doom again. Last week’s checkup was performed by a different doctor in the clinic.
We were called back by a different nurse than we had ever had previously. She was a take-charge-this-is-how-it-is-done type of nurse. She barked “Get her naked.”
As Sam was getting her down to nothin’ but her skin, I mentioned “I’d like to have her head measurements and length measurements today as well.”
The nurse replied dryly, “This is a weight check. We don’t do those at weight checks.”
I countered, ” I would still like the measurements. We’ve been watching the growth closely.”
She responded, “Well, she’s not gonna change that much. When was her 4 month appointment?”
“A couple of weeks ago,” I replied.
“Well,” she commented, “her measurements aren’t going to be that different.”
Testing the patience of her patients.
“I’d like the measurements,” said I.
So, she measured.
Head circumference: 41.75cm
Length: 24 inches
the weight check.
Her weight last week was 10lb 15oz.
Sam guessed 11lbs 8oz.
I guessed 12lbs.
We placed her on the scale.
The numbers scrambled.
They landed hard on 12lbs 1oz.
A pound gain.
I threw my hands up in the air. I just knew she gained a lot this week.
The nurse left and we waited for Dr. Doom to come in.
We sat Daphne up and were playing with her: talking about the office, making clicking noises, and giggling with her.
Doctor Doom knocked and came into the exam room.
We exchanged hellos and how are ya’lls.
She then chimed, “What have you been doing this week?” with a smile on her face.
I told her:
-Feeding Daphs every 3rd feeding with formula
-Feeding Daphs from me each time and then offering formula afterwards.
She was very pleased.
She walked over to us with her laptop in tow, growth charts up and loaded with the new measurements. She excitedly pointed out where Daphne has made wonderful progress—in all her areas (weight vs age, weight vs length, length vs age, and head circumference and age).
Her whole demeanor was positive and relaxed. I could tell she was so happy to see Daphne have just a little more weight and growth changes.
She asked how Daphs was doing with feedings and how my supply was holding up.
I told her that I am still feeding her each meal from me initially but offering her formula afterwards. She generally will take between 2 to 5 ounces extra following afternoon feedings where my supply is lower. I still am breastfeeding her in the evenings and through the night and morning. I may be a little more full during those times and she does not go hungry from me. I also mentioned that the happiness level in my house was growing and we all are handling the addition of formula feeding to my nursing very well.
Dr. Doom’s eyes lit up. She smiled.
She told us, “Keep doing what you’re doing! If you transition more into formula than breastmilk, back off the high calorie recipe I gave you and go straight to the instructions on the can.”
Her eyes were getting frosty. She was getting teary eyed!
I melted Dr. Doom’s heart.
Once a cold and fretful doctor, now a calm and relieved doctor.
I truly do appreciate that Captain Bruner cares so much about Daphne’s growth and health. I think she just had a bad way of showing it to us. I think Captain Bruner was so concerned about Daphne’s health that she just wanted to impress the importance of growth and health to us. She didn’t want to see Daphne struggle to grow, ya know?
We scheduled another weight check for 2 weeks from today.
I’ll continue doing what I am doing (Supplementing formula to my own nursing) and enjoy being relaxed, not stressed, and worry-free.
I have come to realize a few things through my struggles in breastfeeding:
1. The important thing is that baby is growing and full. I am happy to see Daphne growing and gaining weight. Her head circumference is getting bigger and she is getting longer. I feel more comfortable to see her numbers grow rather than stay stagnant and relatively low.
2. To criticize other mothers for their feeding decisions makes you cold-hearted. I fully admit that I was a person who inwardly disapproved of the choice to formula feed. Yes. I just said that. I thought to myself “If a mom formula feeds, they just don’t care enough to breastfeed. Don’t they know what is in formula? Wouldn’t they want the best for their kid?” All of those thoughts were cruel, unfounded, and judgmental I had no idea what I was talking about. Through this struggle to continue breastfeeding and build my supply, I have become a changed woman. I no longer believe as I did then, criticizing people for their choice to formula feed. Perhaps they do not have a choice in the matter and cannot offer breastmilk. Perhaps it does not matter to them, breastfeeding or formula feeding. To criticize another mother’s feeding decisions is absolutely uncalled for. Am I proud to say that I give Daphne formula? Not really. In fact, it strikes a bitter chord in my heart’s song when I think about it. If a person were to approach me about my decision to add formula to my daughter’s diet, I would be torn. I probably would get defensive and emotional. Be careful what you say and even more so, be careful what you think.
3. If it’s not gonna work, it’s not gonna work. Sometimes, breastfeeding just doesn’t work. Sometimes, a mother just cannot produce enough. Sometimes, the match isn’t a perfect fit. If it isn’t going to work, it won’t.
4. Know when to let go. I had become so worn down with stress and worry about my supply. I did everything I possibly could think of shy of going to a doctor to have my milk tested. I came to the realization that my milk alone wasn’t helping Daphs grow as much as I felt comfortable seeing. I knew it was time to start supplementing. I think I will know when it is time to let go of nursing to make way for other foods.
5. Choose your battles. Does it really matter if you feed your child formula versus breastmilk? Yes and no. There are vast resources available concerning the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. There are the nay-sayers who claim formula is like feeding your baby liquid glue (when in reality, it could be better than half of the processed foods that any normal person consumes on a daily basis). Way too much worry and stress has been imprinted onto my heart when it shouldn’t be. I’m choosing to step back a few paces from fighting with my body about breastfeeding. The fight is taking away from enjoying this time with Daphne.
6. Quitting breastfeeding hurts. It physically hurts and emotionally hurts. I once went 6 hours (while I was getting my hair done) and when I got home, I was in pain. On the emotional side, knowing I ‘cannot provide’ for my daughters needs really cuts to the core. Emotionally, if I were to quit breastfeeding, I would harbor self inflicted feelings of guilt and resentment towards myself. It’s not healthy, but it’s what would happen. This is why I am hanging on to breastfeeding—for the benefits for Daphs in addition to not wanting to let go. Daphs may be ready to let go of breastfeeding one day, but I’m not sure I will.
7. Go easy on mothers. In fact, go easy on everyone. You never know what battle a person is fighting. As I mentioned earlier, if someone chooses to chastise me for my decision regarding feeding Daphs, shame on them. If I choose to get all opinionated concerning another mother’s decisions regarding dressing her child, shame on me. Each person has her own path. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. I now look around me at other mothers with more compassion and sympathy. I can feel my heart softening and growing more compassionate towards other mothers. This is a good thing.
8. I love breastfeeding. Truly I do. I love the bonding time, the connection, and the comfort of being able to provide my daughter with unique nutrients and antibodies. I also love her little milk smiles, our moments of laughter between sips, and feeling her little hand grasp my shoulder and collarbone as she eats. It is such a beautiful moment shared.