One of THOSE days

I’m so glad that I was already able to put into words everything that’s been in my head.

Because, wouldn’t you know it. Today was one of those days.

I’d already been dreading this day for a long time. G’s 4 month appt., which was actually taking place at 5 1/2 months. The day where I finally have to make up my mind about his second round of vaccinations, after the miserable experience that was last time. I actually had nightmares about it.

If you remember, I switched Doctors, which is why it took me so long to get into the rotation. Dr. Dennis was highly recommended to me by Courtney, because she is a DO, which means that she is trained in a little bit more of a “whole body” approach to medicine.

Really, finding Dr. Dennis was the only good thing about today. She patiently talked with me for about an hour, never seeming rushed (even though we were 10 min. late for the appt.). She took time to explain each vaccine, reactions she’s seen to various versions of it, which ones she thinks are absolutely necessary, etc. She also took the time to explain homeopathy in more detail (which really helped, since it confirmed everything I’d read online). Together, we decided not to immunize G against Pertussis for now, seeing as this was probably the reason for his bad reaction last time. She said that her granddaughter had the same reaction to the “DTaP, and that once they took out pertussis, she no longer screamed or ran a fever for two days following the vaccination. We also decided that since G is breastfed, I would forgo the Rotavirus vaccine, seeing as she’s had two children in the past year go to the ER with distended intestines as a result. A breastfed baby has a very small chance of getting anything GI tract related, since that’s the very place which breast-milk coats with antibodies. Things like the polio vaccine, she said, are pretty benign, as far as vaccines go, so I got it, along with the rest of the vaccines that the AAP recommends.

But she had some pretty bad news for me. G is not only underweight, as I suspected, he is very underweight. 13 pounds, 5 ounces. That’s under the 5th percentile. By now, she said, he should be close to doubling his birth weight. Instead, he’s only gained 2 pounds in the past 4 months.

Part of the reason is genetics. I love that she took the time to ask about Jesse’s body type so that she could take this into account when determining the problem. He is a very active baby, so his metabolism is going crazy right now. Even while we were talking, he was trying to climb out of my lap so that he could crawl on the floor. I don’t think he stopped moving the entire visit.

But I have noticed that my milk supply has been diminishing. In the beginning, I had too much. Ever since G’s cold, however, I’ve noticed that I have a hard time pumping any extra for piano teaching days. For the past three days or so, I’ve also noticed that he’s still hungry, even after I’ve just fed him.

It became really clear last night. I pumped after G went to bed, as I usually do. When G woke up at 2am, ready for his night feeding, I had nothing. NOTHING. My body just wasn’t producing. I ended up burying my head in the pillow helplessly while Jesse rocked him back to sleep, hungry belly and all. All day today, he hasn’t been latching well, mostly because he’s been acting impatient, as if he’s saying, “where’d it go?”.

It was my worst fear coming true. The moment she said he was very underweight and looking pretty scrawny, I started crying. I realized that deep down, I already knew something needed to change. I knew that G wasn’t getting enough food. But hearing someone else say it stung bad. Luckily, she was very gentle. She asked about my diet, and reminded me to get enough calories and water and to keep taking my prenatal vitamins.

Surprisingly, she didn’t even say the word formula. Instead, she told me to go out immediately and buy Brewer’s Yeast and start taking 3 capsules/day. She said it was the quickest way she knew to increase milk supply. She also said to start him on solid food immediately, slowly starting with the yellow/orange veggies, going for fatty things like avocado soon.

After his vaccinations (Julie came with me for support, which we realized was a bad idea, seeing as she faints when she gets shots or has her blood drawn!), I dropped Julie off at her car and headed straight for the Sunflower Shoppe around the corner from our house. Brewer’s Yeast only comes in powder form, so I also bought vegetarian capsules to put it in, seeing as the taste is supposedly terrible. On Dr. Dennis’ recommendation, I also bought him homeopathic belladonna tablets, seeing as all of Hyland’s Teething Tablets have been taken off the market (mainly, because the FDA doesn’t understand that homeopathic is not the same as actually containing the herb!). She would prefer me use these instead of chalking him full of Tylenol for the pain. She also told me to tie a small washcloth in a knot, soak it, then freeze it. He can hold the ends of the washcloth while chewing on the frozen part in the middle.

I ended up cancelling all of my piano lessons for the day and going over to hang out with Courtney until Jesse got home. I was too emotionally shot to think of leaving my baby (who was screaming, by that time, from lack of food mostly), plus, I couldn’t burden Courtney with him right now. Turns out, it was a good move– once Jonathan and Topher were awake, all 3 kids took turns being fussy and crying! Too much for one person! I made my yeast tablets, took one, and nursed G. When he was still fussy, Courtney graciously heated up 3 oz. of her own stored milk. G gobbled it down and for the first time in days, actually acted full!

Jesse is now home from work, and so we are tag-teaming the still screaming baby. At this point, I don’t think it’s a reaction to the vaccines– he’s only slept a total of an hour today, so he’s EXHAUSTED. We have a few jars of organic baby food given to me at one of my showers, so we have that for now. I will also be trying my hand at making a few different kinds of baby food tonight.

Thanks for all the kind words and comments. It really means the world to know that there are other moms out there, going through some of the same things as me.


Update later in the evening: Turns out, the serving size for the Brewer’s Yeast is 2 tbsp. It took me 30 capsules to get all of that! 100 empty capsules was $6…don’t think I can keep this up! As an experiment, Jesse made me a smoothie with 1 tbsp. of the Yeast. Although not Jamba Juice, for a health smoothie it was pretty good! Two bananas, blueberries, a serving of Greek yogurt, the Brewer’s Yeast, plus a tbsp. of the Agave Nectar for yumminess. 450 calories later…definitely beats the 1/2 hr. it took me stuff 30 capsules!

Apparently, I’ve lost another pound since last week. I am now betting that part of the problem is I’m not consuming enough calories. So I also drank a beer tonight. And ate an entire chicken breast. Hopefully, these mega smoothies will help!


5 thoughts on “One of THOSE days

  1. I am so sorry. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be, and how inadequate you must feel.

    Some thoughts – when I was nursing James, I could not lose a SINGLE pound, ever, or my milk supply would drop dramatically. So much for nursing off the baby weight! It sounds to me like YOU need to up your calorie intake as well, and should take any weight loss as a sign you are not eating enough. You have already lost all the baby weight and you are lighter than you have ever been, so there is no need for you to lose any more weight than you already have. If you are looking for more healthy (and vegan!) ways to add calories into your diet, I suggest putting coconut oil in everything! It is SO goo for you, and very high in calories. Otherwise, don’t count calories; just eat what sounds good to you, and eat to satisfaction.

    Second, I know your doctor suggested starting G on solids, but IMHO, that’s not really going to help very much, because his digestive track just isn’t mature enough to absorb it. When we started James on solids (at 6 months!) the food looked exactly the same from one ends to the other. In fact, one time we gave him raisins, and he pooped whole grapes. Definitely not absorbing much there! In addition, when we started on solids that is when James’ amazing jaw dropping growth slowed dramatically down. By the time he was 6 months old, he had quadrupled his birth weight (but keep in mind, he started at 5 lbs, 9oz. so by 6 months, he weighed 22lbs). But his birthday, he had only quintupled his birth weight, bringing him 27 lbs. Breast milk really is the best food for baby, it’s the food he can use the best calorie for calorie, and if you are going to “supplement” (because at this point solids are just supplements) you should really supplement with formula.

    Which brings me to my next point – it’s ok to supplement with formula! I breastfed James to a year, but we also supplemented with formula when I just didn’t have enough. And it’s ok! You might need to sit down with yourself and examine your motives for NOT supplementing with formula (though we all agree, breast is best). It does not mean you are a bad mom, or that you are inadequate, or that you have given up. If your baby is hungry, your first priority and responsibility it so feed him. Formula is WAY more easy for your baby to digest, and the calories are MUCH more easy for him to absorb when compared to solids. I say this very kindly, but it’s easy, as a breast feeding mom, to let pride about that creep in. I only say it because I have been there, and maybe you are there too. Formula was just the right choice for our family, and if it makes you feel any better, there are all natural organic formulas available at the healthfood store.

    Lastly, I had to supplement with Nutramagin, which is a formula specifically for babies who have allergies to milk AND soy proteins, and it was reeeaaaalllly expensive. Because of our economic situation, we were able to enroll in the WIC program, which paid for 4 cans a month, but they also have vouchers for just about any type of formula you might need. WIC also provided a lot of other food for me, and it was nice to have an extra 100$ in the food budget every month. I am guessing that you guys would qualify for WIC too, and all of that extra milk, cheese, bread, veggies, and peanut butter will help you keep the weight on and make that milk!

  2. I’m so glad you found such an amazing doctor! And I’m stealing that brewer’s yeast tip since I, too, cannot pump any extra at this point. We’re thinking of you and praying for you and so grateful that G has such dedicated, loving, and perceptive parents.

    P.S. Jackson started solids at 4 months because he was always hungry. When he grabbed a pancaked off of his cousin’s plate and shoved it in his mouth (don’t worry, we took it away!) we realized, even if it seems early, this kid is eager to eat some solids! And G will be fine eating solids too! 🙂

  3. Becks,

    I’ve heard about Nutramagin and how expensive it is. A friend of ours was told to use it from the get-go, because her baby was reacting to every single thing she ate. They couldn’t afford the cost, so she did an elimination diet and made it work. For a while, she could only eat special bread that was made without eggs!

    I asked the Dr. what to do if I took the Brewer’s Yeast and my milk supply still didn’t increase, and she said to call and we’d discuss it from there. I imagine that if she wants him on formula, she’ll let me know, seeing as she wouldn’t have any pride issues, just the child’s best interest, at heart. It’s definitely not something I’m opposed to doing– I don’t come from a “breastfed” family, and have never considered it essential to my identity as a mother.

    And, as much as I’d love to qualify for WIC, we now no longer qualify for anything government related, seeing as I’m now bringing in a few thousand dollars a month from piano lessons. There was just a short window of time where I could apply since only Jesse was working, and even THEN Texas State turned us down.

  4. Beth,

    Be warned– the stuff is pretty nasty! It wasn’t too terribly expensive, when you take into consideration the fact that formula would be more. I think I paid $17 for the can, and then $6 for 100 capsules. But I’d suggest skipping the capsules and putting it in a sweet smoothie, like I did later. It just takes too many pills to make a serving’s worth!

  5. Yeah, and please don’t think I am pushing formula on you – I totally would have preferred to have james 100% breastfed, and it just wasn’t happening.

    One thing you might need to keep in mind is that babies need about 1000 calories a day, give or take. If you are losing a pound a week, that means you are running in a 3000 calorie deficit every single week! That means 3 days of of 7, you are not eating enough to feed G at all. If you are not getting those calories from food, then your body is going to find them somewhere else, ie: stored energy (you know… fat). But your fat reserves can’t feed him forever. As your body fat percentage decreases, sooner or later you are going to run out (and it sounds like maybe that is already starting to happen).

    It seems like you lead a really active, busy life – you are a stay at home mom and house-keeper who is really active in her church, teaches tons of piano lessons, AND still seems to make it to the gym sometimes! I am betting you are burning more calories on a daily basis than you realize. You seriously might need to up your intake to 3000-4000 calories a day to keep up with your active lifestyle and hungry baby. Kind of a good problem to have, I say! 🙂

    But see if that helps – that plus the brewers yeast really ought to make a difference.

    Also – I don’t know about you, but 6 hours between feedings was the absolute maximum I could go without a drop in my supply. You may need to work in more pumping sessions if you are going to be away from G for more than 4 hours. Even if you have to pump and dump in your car, it’s worth it not to have it negatively impact your supply.

    Be encouraged! This is a really common problem, and just another one of those difficult things you have to figure out as you adjust to your new job and body. It will all work out fine, it will!

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