Friday, January 7, 2011

Bad Mommy

Can I start with a sigh?  Elijah had his 8 month well-baby check up yesterday and gained a whooping 3 ounces. Three.  Three???!!! In a month??  Sigh.  I am at a loss.  I asked our pediatrician for a thyroid check because I know an over-active thyroid could be a reason for low weight gain, so the nurse came in, put the strap on his arm and started looking for a vein...and looking...and looking.  Then, she asked another nurse to come in and help by holding Elijah's arm so she could focus on the looking.  Then they both looked...and looked...and looked.  Then the doctor came back in and he looked and...You get the picture.  And before anyone comments to tell me that they must not be very good at taking blood, I want to assure you that is not the problem.  The bottom line was Elijah got stabbed at, a try in each arm, without so much as a full pin prick of blood coming out.  He was crying screaming, and I was doing everything in my power not to cry myself.  The doctor and nurses basically shrugged their shoulders and said that they didn't have the heart to just blindly jam the needle in and dig around until they hit something. Yeah...that doesn't sound like a very good plan to me either.  Our pediatrician decided that he's going to check with all of the labs to see if anyone can do a micro thyroid screen based on a heel stick.  Then we discussed what to do further about getting him to gain weight.  I went back through what I am already doing: I nurse him 6 times a day (every three hours) and he gets 2 servings of solids 2 times a day, which just recently became three times a day.  My pediatrician assured me that he is getting plenty of fluids, but there is a possibility that my milk isn't caloric or fatty enough for Elijah to gain more weight.  We decided that I would try reducing the nursing to three times a day and giving the other feeds with formula.  I hope this helps.  I have been really resistant to trying this until now, because ANY formula supplementation can affect your milk supply- even if you're pumping.  What would have been the worst case scenario to me, would have been to compromise my milk supply only to find out that the formula didn't help with the weight gain anyway.  However, now that Elijah is 8 months old and eating a lot of solids too, I'm not as worried about him being exclusively breastfed.  I will continue to nurse to make sure that he's getting all of those helpful antibodies from my milk- after all, along with Down syndrome comes a compromised immune system (not to mention how the facial muscles benefit from the nursing), so any extra help in that area is good.

So, I am working hard to shake the Bad Mommy feeling.  It's the strangest thing how being a Mother, especially in the infant months, triggers a very primal response:  The desire to feed and nourish your child.  To prolong life.  To help your child thrive.  When he isn't thriving in a comfortable range, it makes me feel like it's my fault.  My milk isn't good enough. I'm not good enough.  I comfort myself with the fact that it's not for lack of trying.  Much of my world has been about feeding this kid.  I have thought through every equation: how many feeds, what kinds of food, how often, surrounding conditions. You name it. Plus I have access to a ton of professionals to make sure I haven't left a stone unturned.  In every other way, Elijah seems the picture of health: he's content, he's smiley, he's a great sleeper, he plays, did I mention that he smiles a lot?  A starving, unhappy baby does not smile a lot.  See how I seem to keep justifying myself?  Primal, people. Primal.  It might not be rational, but it's what I'm feeling. At least I have a plan now.  I do much better with a plan.  I'm a plan kinda girl.

Today, Elijah started his first real schedule of therapies!  We had both Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) today, although they will normally be on different days (one session could only fit us in today this week, but next week we'll begin our "real" time slot).  Elijah did GREAT!  I thought the therapists were both knowledgeable and professional.  I've already learned a few good tricks and have a few goals for the week set.  It's awesome.  I am finally taking a big breath of relief that we are in the system and getting started.  I really think Elijah is ready, and today proved it.  He lasted a good 40 minutes in each session before he started complaining.  He complained more in the Physical therapy than in the Occupational, but that was to be expected.  The OT was especially helpful because part of their expertise is in feeding.  I told her the situation and she didn't seem worried about any of it.  When I explained how Elijah eats, she was pleased to hear everything I said.  I also told the PT what was going on with Eli's weight gain and she seemed even less bothered by it than the OT.  She even seemed skeptical that I needed to supplement with formula.  But, I'm not comfortable without a plan, so I'm taking my plan and sticking to it. In two weeks were going back to the doctor for a weight check, so I think I'll have some idea if it's helping or not.

It's been a big week for Elijah and I.  What he feels...I feel.  I can't believe how wrong I was as a child.  I would roll my eyes whenever my Mother would say, "Believe me, this hurts me more than it hurts you!"


This moment made my week. Christian is becoming more and more involved with Elijah, and in this shot, he was insisting that he needed to hold him. He couldn't be a more proud big brother and although I couldn't catch a good shot showing how much Elijah loved it too...he did. However, I think I loved it best of all.


Tracy said...

Beautiful boys! Don't worry are a great mother and you're doing everything right!

T.S. said...

Your blog is lovely! My friend follows you and I clicked over from her blog. Have you tried a wheat-free diet for your son? I have a wheat intolerance, but it wasn't discovered until I was an adult. As a baby, I had similar symptoms to your son and they couldn't figure it out. The symptoms eventually diminished and I gained weight fairly normally until everything came back full-force as an adult and they figured out it was wheat. Might be worth checking into, or at just google it! :) Anyway, just thought I'd mention it! Good luck!

T.S. said...

Try googling "gluten free diet down syndrome." I just did and a lot of great info came up!

Jen Currier said...

I will look into it T.S. - Thanks for "stopping by". Did you have any other symptoms of gluten intolerance in addition to low weight gain as a baby? The only gluten my little guy could get would be from my breast milk, but I am certainly willing to look into it (Since he's not displaying any discomfort after eating and is generally content, I hadn't even thought about allergies!)

Brigid Keely said...

Oh no, poor little guy with the blood work! I have tiny, hard to find veins and blood work has always been super hard with me, so I really really sympathize with him. :C If they have little head pads, putting them over where they think the veins are can help them expand and be easier to find. Going forward (if you aren't already/the phlebotomists aren't), also request butterfly needles which are super small. Hopefully the next blood draw will be easier!

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