Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The Setback, Part One
Sometimes moms will ask me if their child has a hearing loss because of something they did while they were pregnant, such as drinking too much diet coke. Another common scenario is when their child has an ear infection that goes undetected. Parents feel horribly guilty for not picking up on the signs. I assure them that it's not their fault. Now I think I can relate to them a little better.
When the time came for Penny's two-week checkup, I thought things were going pretty well. She had been fussy, but babies are fussy, right? Her crying had been increasing and she seemed hungry all the time. Well, she must be having a growth spurt! My milk had come in, and I was letting her nurse until she fell asleep.
The day of the appointment, I was feeling a wee bit stressed because I was exhausted from sleep deprivation, B had gone back to work that morning, and I was venturing out of the house without him. I couldn't stand to be away from the nest, and the idea of going anywhere with the baby alone was absolutely terrifying. Penny cried the entire way to the doctor's office. I thought, "I can't take her in the waiting room like this, people will think I'm a horrible mother." She calmed down when I put her in the sling (hooray for slings!) and then I calmed down as well. Then they put her on the scale.
She had grown 2 inches and lost almost 2 pounds. My ordinarily very chill doctor suddenly became very serious. We discussed the number of diapers, etc, which weren't enough. I looked at my baby and saw her with new eyes. She looked tiny. And sad. And hungry. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was crushed. I was frightened for Penny, and I felt absolutely stupid because I actually thought things were going well. We discussed a plan of action. Either my milk supply was to blame, or she might have a metabolic disorder of some kind. But the most important thing was to get Penny to gain weight. I was to pump ASAP to see what I was producing, with the goal being to feed her 2 ounces every 3 hours. Then, she gave me this:
A pediatric feeding tube, with instructions to pour my milk in + formula as needed to reach 2 oz. (We had to add the electrical tape after the numbers wore off). The idea was to have the tube go down to my breast to simulate breastfeeding. At this point, my head was spinning and I was trying my best to follow her instructions. I wasn't really thinking, only nodding and saying, "Ok." Did I mention that I hadn't slept and B had gone back to work?
Then came the heel stick test, and Penny cried. My brave facade crumbled and I cried too. The nurse, who really does dislike torturing children, told me to take my time and that I could feed Penny in the exam room if I wanted to. Eventually, we went back home. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate.
The good news is, it was not a metabolic disorder. It was my milk supply, which definitely added to the feelings of inadequacy. Poor Penny had been trying to eat, but had been falling asleep when the milk ran out. At this point, B's mom's radar (mom-dar?) went off and she showed up at my door. She had been thinking about me all day and felt like she should check on me. I cried all over again. She assured me that it wasn't my fault, which is exactly what I tell the parents who come to see me, only this time, I knew how it felt.