I Refuse: One Mom’s Battle to Breastfeed

I was so excited to breastfeed my son. All throughout my labor I remember expressing out loud how much I wanted to breastfeed and couldn’t wait to try. I went to a class, read books, bought the right bras and tops. I was ready! After the initial awkward latches Isaac and I got it down and it went great. He had a great latch, I had plenty of milk, and he ate every 90-120 minutes. Sure, it was hard, tiring, even frustrating at times, but I really enjoyed doing it. I figured out how to read while he nursed and was finishing a book a week. I was a proud breastfeeding mama!

justborn

Well, you know that saying about when something is too good to be true it probably is, that is exactly what happened with us. The well child visits started and we were suddenly bombarded with questions of how much he ate, how he slept, how happy is he between feedings. I didn’t understand what was going on; why are they questioning my nourishment for my son? This is supposed to be perfect for him! His pediatrician wasn’t happy with his weight gain, less than a pound a month. Come one, who hasn’t heard this before? I was prepared for it and stood my ground, telling her that Isaac is perfectly happy and if he wasn’t I’d sure as hell feed him. She began suggesting twice monthly weight checks. I obliged because I was worried she would report us for “starving the baby” if we didn’t. Meanwhile, my mother was researching weight charts for exclusively breastfed babies and calling me daily to find out if the doctor had said anything. When the weight checks remained unsatisfactory she told us to give him formula after he nursed, claiming that my baby was still hungry after nursing. I declined and explained to her that I knew when he was happy and when he was hungry and trust me, when he’s sleeping for five hours straight, he’s not hungry. Oh no! I let the cat out of the bag and admitted my child slept for five hours (or more) before waking for a feeding. Well now she insisted that I wake him up at midnight for an extra feeding to sneak in extra calories. What?!?!?! I don’t think so! I let sleeping dogs and babies lie! When I refused that she asked if I could feed him a breastmilk bottle after nursing once a day. I tried it and he drank two ounces then spit it back up and was up every two hours that night because of an upset stomach. I will repeat again…I KNOW MY CHILD. Her concern now was that Isaac was falling off the growth chart.

3.5months

All the while Isaac is gaining weight, just slowly and on his own curve. He had never lost weight during this whole ordeal! The very last thing I did for this doctor was two days of exclusively pumping and bottle feeding. I brought him in on a Monday morning after his first nursing session to be weighed then wasn’t allowed to nurse him for 48 hours. It was awful. I had to write down every time and the amount he consumed while bottle feeding expressed milk. I cheated and nursed him when he woke during the night because I certainly didn’t want to make a bottle at 2:08 in the morning. I brought him back after 48 hours along with the chart of when he ate and how much. The nurse checked his weight then told us we were good to go. I don’t think so. I pumped for two days, kept track of his feedings, and brought him in for two weight checks this week and I’m not seeing the doctor? Get her in here now. She came in and I told her how much he consumed and how many times a day and it didn’t make sense to her with his weight gain. She offered more alternatives, blood work, specialists, etc., all I politely declined. He is fine, what didn’t she understand? The doc left and the nurse entered shortly later with a basket full of needles and vials and announced she’ll be doing Isaac’s blood work. Excuse me?? His what??? Hell no! I walked out of there for the last time with a diaper-clad baby, hollering at her the whole time.

While searching for a new pediatrician, Isaac’s old one called and said she made an appointment for him with a pediatric gastroenterologist and simply asked that I see him and don’t let Isaac fall off the chart. I can’t type what I said in my head to her, but I’m sure you can use your imaginations. I found a new doc who was less demanding but still wanted us to see the GI. Around this time Isaac was labeled as “failure to thrive” and I lost it. Dr Google became a good friend and I drove myself bonkers looking for reasons he would be FTT. I convinced myself he had some sort of life threatening disease and he’d be dead before his first birthday. I desperately needed to find a professional to agree with me that Isaac was just a slow weight gainer and that was all. We found that with the GI. While going over his information and asking me questions the GI asked what I was even doing here if Isaac hadn’t lost weight. Finally!!! He said there is absolutely nothing wrong with Isaac. We did agree to some initial lab work and when that came back normal we were overjoyed.

My husband and I had to fight professionals for me to keep breastfeeding our son. After jumping through all their hoops everything was fine and the battle was over, right? Of course not. The new pediatrician said that now we have to check this, that, and the other thing. No. I was done. We saw the specialist, we got blood work done, that was it. If you can’t handle Isaac gaining weight slowly then we’ll find someone who will. Bye. She dropped it and since that day never brought up him needing to gain weight. A few weeks ago we were in for a check up and the doctor checked Isaac’s weight on the chart and she was so excited that he was on the curve and officially in the third percentile. I didn’t say or do anything. This was obviously a moment for her.
14months

We’ve never been concerned with his weight gain and it wasn’t until we were bullied about it that we began to worry. Worry can easily make you obsessed and drive you to do some things that you would never do just to make someone else happy. You are the only advocate your child has and whether the professionals like to admit it or not, you have the final say in that doctor’s office, not the ones in scrubs and lab coats.

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I know a lot of you probably have similar stories and situations. What did you do? What was the final breaking point for you?

-Allison Adams

 

 

 

 

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