Lifestyle Blogger, Jazmine L. Coats of ‘Simply Little Things’ contacted the Don’t Judge Just Feed campaign to share the challenges she faced trying to get her precious daughter nourished…
“To anyone who knows me personally, you are probably familiar with the struggles my husband and I have had when it came to feeding our little girl. From birth to about 6 months it was a constant battle. This post is not to complain, never would I want to come across that way. I know there are parents who have it MUCH worse. But rather, it’s to inform and share our experiences.
With today’s society being borderline overbearing when it comes to the term “Breast is Best” it adds an incredible amount of pressure to new moms. Do I believe that breastfeeding has incredible benefits? ABSOLUTELY! I have a strong faith in God, and I have never felt more amazed or impressed at his wonderful creation than I did when I had Kinsley. Breastfeeding was at the top of the list. I was in awe at the fact that your body can produce the perfect amount of food with just the right nutrients, at just the right times. But the hard truth is we are all imperfect humans. No one is perfect and sometimes this just does not happen for people.
I beat myself up about not being able to breastfeed for a very long time. In fact I think I still felt guilt up until Kinsley’s doctor appointment today when her doctor showed me her charts. While looking at her chart for weight she used words that gave me chills. “Failure to Thrive”. Kinsley had been so low on the weight charts that she actually fell in this category. If you are a mother who has ever heard those words you know just how horrible that can make you feel. Yet after thinking about those three words, I feel like I can finally let my guilt go. Why?
Moments after Kinsley was born they had her try to breastfeed. I remember reading articles about how your baby will crawl to you for food, they will know just what to do, and if it doesn’t happen right away, don’t worry, it will. If she is hungry enough, she will eat. Yet.. It wasn’t happening. I kept telling myself that she would get there, everything would be fine. But it wasn’t.
Our breastfeeding journey turned into a whirlwind of emotions… FAST. The day they sent us home from the hospital they scheduled a doctor appointment for the following morning. She had some high bilirubin levels and they needed to be checked the following day. If this ever happens again, I will honestly ask if they will just keep us one more night. We had one sleepless night at home and we were already shoved out the door to the doctors office with our oh so tiny 2 day old baby. That doctors appointment was the first of many that I would leave in tears.
Overnight Kinsley’s weight had dropped an uncomfortable amount. They sent us home to do lights for her jaundice, and quickly called back to tell us, that they actually wanted Kinsley re-admitted to the hospital. At the hospital she was put on lights, and we could not hold her unless she was eating or needed a diaper change. Because of her weight drop they had me introduce formula to try and get her back to birth weight. As a mom who wanted to exclusively breastfeed this was hard, but I was determined to do what was best for my baby.
Formula was implemented along with breastfeeding for some time until her bilirubin levels dropped to a safe level. After that I tried again to exclusively breastfeed Kinsley.
I thought all was going well until I took her in for a check-up and was told that she was not gaining weight properly. I felt like a terrible mom. Here I am, doing all I possibly can, pushing through cracks and bleeding nipples so I can do “what’s best” for my baby, yet she is not even gaining weight. This turned into lactation appointments, nipple shields, natural supplements, change in my diet, and lots of tears. And still nothing. I still had a tiny, tiny baby that just would not grow. At this point we can now tack on the fact that she was not pooping on a regular basis, at one point even going 10 days without a poopy diaper.
Fast forward a little more and I’m exclusively breastfeeding with the help of a shield. I think all is going well again, yet she is still not gaining weight. “Maybe she is just like her daddy” “Maybe she just is a petite little thing” I would think. But my thoughts were wrong, and this time Kinsley let me know.
Breastfeeding for an hour, but still starving at the end of each feeding. This I realized was not normal, so I again started to introduce formula. She was happier with her formula than I had ever seen her, probably because she was no longer starving.
I continued to breastfeed first, until Kinsley just would not have it anymore. I then moved into breastfeeding her in the morning and before bed, until that was no longer satisfying and my milk dried up.
This was the end of our breastfeeding journey and I NEEDED to be okay with that. Because it was what was best for my little girl. But deep down, I still felt incredible guilt…
It’s been a little bit now, and Kinsley is now exclusively bottle fed. I still feel the guilt of not breastfeeding, but she is actually beginning to gain weight, so that makes it easier. Yet something is still wrong. I know it, but I can’t figure it out and things are only getting worse.
It is at this point in time, Kinsley hates eating. And to be quite honest, we dread feeding her. She screams and cries through her feedings, sending Jake and I both into a total tizzy. She bears down on her bottle, turns her head, and constantly chokes. Every day she eats a little less and she has gone from 6 ounce bottles every three hours to almost 3 ounces. We already have switched her formula three times, due to both poop and spit up.
And her poop? Oh she still goes rarely. She needs prune juice every day just to stay somewhat regular, and when she does it’s hard as a rock. She has torn her bottom on more than one occasion trying to get out such large poops, and she has already had too many “rectal temperatures” and suppositories than I would ever dream she would have to have. There have also been multiple times I have had to put gloves on and just dig it out myself.
We have everyone in their brother trying to tell us something different, try this or do that. Sometimes people even try to feed her and just assume she is not hungry when she begins to flop around like a fish out of water. I understand people do and say things out of love and concern, but still I mostly just want to cry when they do. We try everything. We switch her bottles twice, both times trying a fast and slow nipple. Then we try a whole new bottle with a completely different shaped nipple. Still nothing. We begin feeding her at every possible angle, feeding her while standing, feeding her while standing AND bouncing. We try to hold out so she’s really hungry and she desires to eat more… but nope. Nothing is working.
I bring up my concerns to her doctor, and she decides to send us to a feeding specialist. Kinsley is still on the low end of the charts, formula definitely put some chub on her, but still, she’s tiny! She probably always will be our little peanut, but when your child hates eating, it’s a problem.
I should also add that at this point we introduced “solids”. She hated her bottles so much we wanted to introduce a form of eating that she could enjoy. Some people thought it was too early, but those people never saw her refuse a bottle. We had our reasons, and we both felt they were good ones.
This brings us to the feeding specialist. It took forever for our referral to go through, only to be told we had to wait another two months to be seen. This to me was unacceptable. I had a baby dropping in weight and I was one crabby mama! We took it upon ourselves to call children’s hospitals and clinics of Minnesota, and they were able to see us much, much faster.
After about a minute of watching Kinsley eat, the doctors confirmed some of my concerns (I had some lots of my own research) and implemented some changes.
The biggest thing was they thought she had a dairy allergy. (Cows’ milk protein to be exact) We switched her formula again, this time putting her on one called Nutramigen. (Holy Crap… expensive!) Along with this, we started her on a reflux medication (Zantac). They told us to give these two things a try, along with making her wait longer between feedings. (That’s hard… she wasn’t happy). Apparently it can take up to two months for things to really change. We were determined to give it a good trial run and see what would happen. However, after a good two or three weeks with absolutely no change, we decided to schedule her for a swallow study. We were so ready to be done seeing Kin’s so incredibly miserable at meal times.
A paediatric swallow study was performed and we discovered Kinsley had some deep penetration while swallowing and although they were not able to see Kinsley aspirate at her appointment (that’s a general term for when the food would bounce forward into her airway causing her to choke) they assumed that this was happening during her feedings on a regular basis.
After her swallow study we began to implement “Honey Thick” bottles. Basically we thicken all of her bottles to the consistency of honey with baby oatmeal. We continue to give her reflux medication twice a day as well to help with some additional chocking and stomach acid spit up.
Feeding Kinsley has been a dream lately. She is happy while she eats, and no longer fusses. She even takes her bottle out to make happy little coo’s and tell us how much she loves it! I could not be more happy for her!
We are slowly moving into the next phase of food troubles with her (allergies), but I feel they will be nothing in compared to her bottle feedings. We have discovered Kinsley breaks out in hives from both cows’ milk and bananas. Weird right?! She has a paediatric allergist appointment in a few weeks here and we will move forward from there! Until then, no peanut butter for her… that’s too much on mommy’s heart!
All in all, FED IS BEST. If you can breastfeed that’s amazing, believe me when I say I am SO happy for you. Some people get judgmental when they see a woman giving her child a bottle. But really, none of us know the struggles of another parent, or the journey they have been through already when their child is at such a young age. Motherhood is a beautiful thing. We’re all a little sleep deprived and crazy; but let’s be sleep deprived and crazy together.”
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