It’s been a hectic first week at home with our Benjamin. Between the jaundice scares (highest level was over 15mg/dL as of Monday – although thankfully went down to 13.9mg/dL by Tuesday) and weight loss… it’s just been…well… hectic.
I can deal with no sleep. Maybe this is because no matter the time of day, I am so filled with joy each time I see Ben. Filled with joy when (trying) to nourish him, or calm his tears, or even change his diaper (don’t tell Joe I said that last part). He’s here. He’s mine. And I’m the one that makes him happy. It’s the best feeling in the world. What’s not the best feeling in the world? All of these medical “scares.”
Sure, they are common. Everyone’s heard of “jaundice” and no one said breastfeeding would be easy. But this being my first time dealing with any of this makes everything feel uncommon, foreign, scary, and yes, even provides me with feelings of guilt. (Sorry, Dr. Laura. I know “guilt” is the wrong word as I’ve done nothing immoral or illegal… and I’m working on it. But for the sake of writing my emotions out I’m going to use whatever word I want!)
Starting with jaundice. I mean, I’ve heard of jaundice but I had NO CLUE that my own child was jaundice at all until the pediatrician brought it up on Friday (the day we were planning to go home from the hospital). I mean, all of a sudden it was, “Well now you might need to stay one more night. Let’s run a couple extra tests and see where he’s at.” And I had no idea. Ben barely tested out at 10.1ml/dL on Friday so we were sent home. Praise God. Another appointment with the pediatrician would be the following Monday, and “…as long as he is feeding enough and peeing/pooping enough he should be fine.”
(In hindsight… another thing I dislike are words like “enough” from a medical professional. I am changing lots of diapers… and they are “dirty,” but how am I supposed to know if they are “dirty enough.” Apparently another area I had no idea about but just thought everything was fine…)
We went in and saw Dr. Bauer and found out that Ben was weighing in at 6lbs 4.9oz (still 8% under birthweight – the same weight as the second night in the hospital). He was 9th percentile in weight, 12th percentile in length, and 45th percentile in head circumference (hopefully that means he’ll be REALLY smart someday?!). And then Dr. Bauer said, “It does look like the jaundice is spreading. You should go get more labs run.” It does? I had no idea. “As long as it’s not over 15ml/dL you’re fine.”
Phone call from Dr. Bauer at 10pm Monday night. Ben’s level is 15.1ml/dL.
It’s a good thing I’m not sleeping anyway, right?
Luckily for us, it went down before phototherapy was needed. But that wasn’t the only thing. Yesterday’s appointment with Lactation yielded the biggest hits. I thought I’d be going in to this appointment like a champ. I actually almost canceled it! I mean, this kid “latches” no problem. And he’s “sucking” like crazy. Like… driving me crazy how much he is sucking. He wants nothing but to be on me all. day. long. Then we weighed him.
How could this be? What am I doing wrong?
Ben’s not swallowing. And I’m not producing enough.
And I had no idea.
I am a speech pathologist with graduate classes on pediatric feeding a swallowing and I didn’t realize that my own child was only sucking and not swallowing.
There’s so much in the literature pertaining to how “breast is best,” and for that reason its been my plan for feeding Ben. Sure, it’s harder… but research shows it’s best for baby (and mom) so why would I not at least give it a try? After our appointment yesterday I was told it’s time to start supplementing with formula.
I shouldn’t think this way, but I wonder how much of this is all my fault. I mean, my body could not support a pregnancy (past the first trimester, at least) without major medical assistance. Now my body can’t produce enough nourishment for my guy. Maybe it’s just plain old my fault. Sure, we have a plan to hopefully increase my supply while supplementing over the next several days/weeks but there’s no guarantee that it will work.
I messaged Joe in frustration after my appointment, and he said something really impactful. “It’s just science.” Maybe this is what I need to focus on. I mean, science made our Ben from the very beginning. Science (with a combination of multiple daily oral medications, patches, and injections) kept my body from rejecting him for nearly 14 weeks. And Science got this breech little man OUT of my body without killing us both. Science is 100% on our side.
And so is God. My feelings of “guilt” (or perhaps “shame” is a better word?) for my body’s lack of “production” or my lack of “having any idea things were off ” are overshadowed by God’s almighty grace. I cannot control what I cannot control. Sure, I will work my bottom off trying to follow this crazy new “plan,” allowing as much nourishment from my body to feed Ben before adding the supplementation, but ultimately it will be what it will be and, thanks to science, I know our boy will be fed. My feelings of guilt and shame will subside, especially as I continue to focus on the positive blessings around me. A baby that is mine. Here. Breathing. A “Big Brother George” that loves his new brother and is SO GENTLE (a HUGE previous concern of mine) with Ben. A husband who was willing to help in the middle of the night with the many additional feeding steps that now are our reality for the foreseeable future.
Strength for Today, and Bright Hope for Tomorrow. Grow Benny, Grow.
On the lighter side, my new concern is how to convince Joe over the next couple months to let Ben dress as “Donald Duck” for Halloween this year as was originally planned nearly 22 weeks ago. Joe’s now 100% set on him wearing a yellow shirt, yellow hat, and yellow shorts… to go as “jaundice.” Talk about “Mom Guilt!’