The Words I Never Wanted to Hear

Yesterday had to be one of the longest, most emotionally challenging days of my life.

It started with Eden’s 4 month check-up at the Doctor’s office. She had grown 9 cm in length and 3 cm in head circumferance from her last appointment. I was eager to see how much she weighed. I laid Eden down on the scale and watched the numbers.

11 pounds, 6 ounces.

That couldn’t be right. The nurse checked her 2 month record and her weight there: 11 pounds, 6 oz. We both didn’t believe it so we put Eden back on the scale. The numbers didn’t change. Eden went from being in the 75th percentile for weight at birth to the 10th. I thought she had inherited her fathers lean physique.

The Doctor came in and said she had to be seen by a pediatrician right away in the emergency room. I cried on my way over, wondering what could be wrong with my little girl.

After I arrived at the ER, I was interviewed for about 45 minutes, Eden had her vitals checked. Then I was to feed her so we could weigh her again and see how much she was eating. Eden was fussy again while she was eating. She had been a little fussier while eating about 50 % of the time for the last month which everyone assured me meant she was teething. We put her back on the scale. 40 grams. I didn’t know what the meant. The pediatrician looked at me and said the words I never wanted to hear:

“You have to supplement her”.

2 things happened at once: 1) I immediately and uncontrollably started crying… hard. 2) It was like a flashback of the last month appeared to me – her diapers hadn’t been as wet and they kinda smelled a little more, she had less bowel movements, I hadn’t felt as ‘full’ before feeding, the fussiness, the fact that her 3 month clothes still fit her… GUILT for not noticing these things or putting them all together…

“Do you want Similac or Infamil or Goodstart?” were the next words out this heartless doctor’s mouth.

“What can I do? This isn’t permanant right? What do I do to build my milk supply back up?”

“You gave it a good 4 months” was her reply.

I wanted to slap her across the face. She just stared at me blankly. “Doesn’t see understand?”, I thought. This isn’t just feeding my baby. This is an incredible bond I feel with her everytime I feed her. It’s an amazing natural process and bond between mother and child. It’s so easy and convenient. And can I help it that I’m Dutch? Formula cost money… Don’t get me wrong, i have nothing against people who choose formula over breast but for me, this was a very strong and loving connection I felt with my little girl that I wasn’t about to just call it quits on. I tried to explain this to her. She prescribed a drug to increase my supply.

Then Eden had her blood drawn and urine assessed. I sat in the ER for 8 1/2 hours. I was exhausted from all the tears I had shed and guilt I had been building on top of myself.

I’m not giving up. Jack Newman ( wouldn’t let me give up either. I’ll be taking this drug, eating as healthy as I possibly can, pumping between feeds and postponing my arrival to California so that I can get this back on track. I’ve read this isn’t that uncommon to happen between 3-4 months.

I’m not giving up.

9 responses to “The Words I Never Wanted to Hear”

  1. Heidi, your post was so touching that I cried too. What a scary and challenging experience! I hope you and Eden move smoothly and quickly through this transition. Will be eager to see both of you again next week! And Reuben too:) Love you all!

  2. heidi, i would have been so frustrated too. i’m sure you’re exhausted. i’m glad that you have an ‘action plan’ in place–i hope it works for you and for eden. you are such a wonderful mom!!!!

  3. You can do it! We will be praying for you.

  4. We will praying for you guys as well. I can’t even imagine the emotions that you were going through. I know I would’ve been a wreck. Don’t feel guilty – I know thats impossible, its really easy justify at the time things like less dirty diapers and less of an appetite. Hind sight is 20/20. You’re a great mum.

  5. I am so glad nothing is wrong developmentaly with eden and the problem is fixable…with some work. I am glad we get to see you next weekend.

  6. Heidi, what a touching story and trying day!
    Having nursed Taeda for over a year, I can tell you that your milk supply CAN be built back up again. I’m glad you’re not giving up. Here are some bits of advice that really helped me any time Taeda’s needs increased: Try to relax as much as possible (I read at least 4 novels a month when Taeda was 3-5 mos. old – usually while nursing). Don’t think about your milk supply while nursing. Sleep makes milk. And I was always personally helped by eating some healthy fats with my meals: cream on hot cereal in the morning, butter on anything you can put it on, ice cream more often than usual, etc. And if there is a time of day that you notice you get extra worried or stressed or have the least amount of milk, it may work to ‘preemptively’ drink a small glass of wine, or have a beer. Many American women are critical of that treatment, but several European sources I’ve read really encourage it, with the logic that it helps the mother and the milk supply more than it negatively affects the baby.
    All the best to you and Eden in this adventure!

  7. Way to go, Heidi, for not giving up! I am so proud of you for not letting that doctor just convince you to give up and supplement. There were several times with Ezra that I started worrying about losing my supply, but fortunately I didn’t. We will also be praying for you to have strength as you work towards building your milk supply, that you will keep up your hope and keep being such a wonderful mom to Eden!

  8. By the way, I mentioned your story in our Bradley prenatal class last night because we were talking about breastfeeding and all of the advantages. Our teacher was talking about how doctors are not always very knowledgable about breastfeeding and will often admit to it. So, I thought your story was a very good example of that, and the class was very amazed that you stood up to the doctor and wouldn’t just accept having to supplement. I hope that gives you some encouragement!

  9. Wow! What a story, it made me tear up a little. Don’t have much experience in that dept so the most I can do is pray and really, I’ll be praying for you guys, Heidi.

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