Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Failure to thrive"

Those were the words the pediatrician wrote on my baby's medical slip and handed to me today. If there are any words that makes a mama feel terrible, it's those.

He has only gained one ounce since his last doctor visit 2 weeks ago and the doctor turns to me and starts asking all sorts of questions about his eating habits: "How often does he eat? When are you nursing him? Are you giving him formula? How much and how often? How are his bowel movements?"

I nurse my baby whenever he wants to be fed. I will drop what I am doing to sit down and whip out the boob so my baby can eat. The few exceptions are when I am in the shower; when I have to do a bowel movement of my own; or when I am typing up the last of a post on this here blog. I have been known to feed the baby while I type with one hand and I have also been known to bring the baby with me into the bathroom if the husband is nowhere to be found and the girls are a little too rowdy for me to trust them with a fragile little baby.

At the appointment 2 weeks ago, the doctor asked me to supplement his feedings with 2 ounces of formula, once a day, after I nurse him. I have done that, and sometimes he finishes it, sometimes he doesn't. That, to me, tells me he is getting enough to eat from me because he is too full to finish the bottle. At the appointment today, he tells me I was supposed to feed him 2 ounces of formula after every feeding. The husband and I both agree that is not what he said. Besides that, he hasn't lost any weight. If he was losing weight then I would be concerned, too!

My Oldest, when she was a newborn, was a slow gainer, too. The first couple of visits to the doctor's office brought the inquisition down on our heads. "Are you feeding this child? You aren't starving her are you?!" Well for pete's sake! Of course I'm not starving her! You think I would bring her in for a check-up if I wasn't properly taking care of her? After about 5 or 6 weeks, she started to gain an ounce here and an ounce there and to look at her now, you would never know she was such a small thing. She eats voraciously and I never have a problem getting her to eat her vegetables or fruits.

While I am grateful for the medicaid we are getting, I am resenting the treatment I am receiving from the doctors; from the rude doctor that broke my water without asking me; to the pediatrician who started talking to another doctor about my baby's file right in front of me, resulting in the other doctor giving me the 'eye'. At least wait until I am out of sight before discussing a patients file with another doctor.

Of the 4 births I had, the third one at home with a midwife was the absolute best and the care I received cannot be compared to any of the other births. After the birth of baby #3 we decided that we didn't want her get all the shots that they give babies and choose to "go natural". I would never deny my children any kind of care if they needed it, but it makes me frustrated when a person judges me and my capabilities by only seeing my child for less than 5 minutes every 2 weeks.

I am going to look for another pediatrician, because frankly, I don't like feeling like a terrible mother.

I'm not a bad mother. I'm not a bad mother. I'm not a bad mother...


Barbara said...

I do sympathise Jenny. We have free health care here and I've certainly met some arrogant health professionals over the years. Is it different when you pay for healthcare? Good luck with your search for a new dr. All the best.

K.L. said...

You are right. You are a GOOD mother. You just have a bad pediatritian. Is he the same one you had with your other kids? It helps if they know that slow weight gain is normal for your kids. Here in the good ol'e USofA, we are now so used to seeing overweight kids, when a child grows slowly, they jump all over the parents. As long as you have a good supply of breast milk, and he is getting full during his feedings, he will be fine.

Drink plenty of water yourself, and be sure you have good meals so you are able to produce plenty of breast milk. Suplementing should not be necessary.

IndianaJones said...

oh Jenny I'm so very sorry. I know exactly how this feels. I had to literally fight with my doc when Indy was little (we switched 3 times in her first 3 months until we moved and went to my old pediatrician from my youth). They kept telling me I needed to supplement and I kept refusing. She was growing just very slowly and she wasn't on the 'charts' for her weight so they were worried. Well you know what? I never did end up supplementing and she is now 2 and still not on the charts but growing just fine at the rate that she grows which for her is slowly.
Is it possible supplementing is slowing your milk production so he's not getting as much from you? I don't know I think switching docs is the best idea. I just read a great article in Mothering magazine, it wasn't on this subject but the last line basically said a responsible parent thinks for themselves. You know your child better than any other, you are a wonderful mother who has raised three healthy girls, you sure as hell would know if you had child who wasn't thriving. Stick with your gut. It has gotten you a long way and will continue to.
I will keep you in my thoughts and pray you are able to find a good fit in a doc soon.

jenny said...

Barbara-- medicaid is sorta free for lower income families.. But I think with medicaid comes a stigma and the healthcare workers look down on you, or at least that is my opinion. Ultimately, my son's health comes first, and I will be sure to always keep that in mind.

kl-- this is a totally new pediatrician for us. kids #1 and 2 had the same doc and then Hubby lost his job so we also lost our insurance. #3 has no pediatrician and we went to the health dept when needed (which was rarely). This doc was the one the hospital used and he seemed nice enough so we signed on with him. We explained to him about Oldest's history of slow weight gain, but either he isn't hearing it or has a one-track mind and doesn't believe us.

I have plenty of milk and Hubby and I are always amazed to see how big the boob gets and then to watch it grow smaller as the baby nurses. When it comes to making babies and nursing them, that's a job I take seriously. :o)

Summer-- It's frustrating to me because every time we go to an appt, the baby is napping and I think the doctor sees that as poor health. He doesn't see my son at home, awake and rolling on the floor; wide-eyed looking around him; crying loudly when he wants food and the wet and poopy diapers that we often change. All the doc sees is a baby that is still the same weight as 2 weeks ago and he is sleeping. As far as I am concerned, he IS thriving.

I am feeling better, hearing these positive comments and I am convinced more than ever that we need to switch doctors. I hope to find a pro- breast feeding doctor that prefers natural methods more than modern medicine and understands that there are some babies that don't fit the "average" mold.

Keri said...

Oh no, you are NOT a bad mother! That doctor is a BAD doctor! As long as your baby is not losing weight, he is perfectly fine. I strongly suggest that you find a La Leche advocate near you or via phone. She will reassure you that you are doing just fine and will advise you if anything needs to be done. In fact, I wouldn't even bother with the formula because that could hinder your breastfeeding relationship with your son. Ask for a second opinion on the formula supplement from the La Leche advocate. Best of luck to you!

Unknown said...

These words spewed by doctors are scary especially in these days and ages. Anything can happen.
These doctors are ignorant. Change doctor QUICKLY. You are GOOD mother.
Those words surely hurt me. That's for sure!
I love reading your blogs. Always light up when I see new post. Unfortunately this one is not. We are with you!

barefoot gardener said...

Oh, hon! Anyone can see looking at your other children that you are a wonderful mother. I don't know what is wrong with the Dr.s in your area that they keep doing this stuff to you!

Don't let that evil old goat make you feel bad. I know how bad it stinks once they plant that seed in your head. I don't think they realise how damaging comments like that can be. You know you are doing a good job with your baby, and we know that you are doing just fine. Little One will grow his own way and at his own pace.


Keep your chin up, darlin'. We are all on your side...

jenny said...

Keri-- Thank you. The more I think about it, the more I am going to start looking for a new pediatrician. I KNOW I have plenty of milk and I KNOW the baby is eating plenty and getting full. After nursing 3 babies with no trouble, I am not going to stop with this one just because a doctor tells me so.

ls-- I agree. 38 years ago, a doctor told my mom to stop breastfeeding my sister and use formula. Made my mom feel like crap and so she did. She did not have friends to ask and talk with and there were no support groups like today back then. The next post will be a happy one! :o)

Barefoot-- Thank you sweetie! I really feel so much better, what with all the positive comments from everyone and as time goes by, I am more sure of what I want to do.

I don't know why I keep getting the yucky doctors lately! I guess because I didn't choose them and I had to take what I could get. I'll be shopping around for a new pediatrician and "interviewing" them on their philosphies and medical tendicies for sure! You made me laugh calling him an evil old goat! :o)

DJ Kirkby said...

You are NOT (!) a bad mother! But here is a sneaky secret for encouraging your baby to gain weight...towards the end of beautiful boy's feed (you know when this is coming) start to squeeze all around the top of you breast milking your ducts so that you force more of your 'hind' milk in to him. Hind milk is the one that is packed full of food instead of the more watery, thirst relieving, 'fore' milk. Or you could espress and discard a bit before feeding him so that he gets your hind milk sooner. Then if he is thristy afterwards, he could have a drink off your other breast. Big hug, thinking of you.

Sarah said...

Good Lord, you are NOT a bad mother! This is the first post I've read of yours and I could tell from the details that you're paying more attention to your baby (and his siblings when they were babies) than most mommas I know.

YOU know they gain slowly, YOU know he is full, YOU know he is healthy.

Stay strong, momma. You're doing a wonderful thing by standing up for your baby and your nursing relationship with him.


jenny said...

Dj-- Thanks for the tip! I swear, since the appointment yesterday, the baby feels heavier. It's probably all in my head, but he is definetely an active baby and not at all lifeless.

Sarah-- Welcome! Thanks for your kind words, sweetie! I have been thinking on this since it happened and both the husband and I agree it's time to look for a new doctor. Come back soon!

Patty Keen said...

Jenny, the doctor obviously missed a course or two about manners.

Please switch doctors now and listen to your instincts because Mothers' Instincts are never ever wrong, Jenny.

I have to say this, your doctor is wrong, your doctor has a failure to thrive in kindness. *Tsk*

Words can sting. I see how happy and content your children are. Their bellies full with what you make and your beautiful boy is constantly being fought over by his sisters.

You.Are.An.A.Amazing.Mommy! Never ever let anyone else tell you any different.

Big hugs,
Patty oxox

Wendy said...

It's doctors like that that end up making mothers believe they aren't capable of taking care of their children, and doctors like that who've made the institutionalization of our families and children so easily accomplished. He'd be the first to recommend antibiotics for a "bit of redness" in your baby's ear, drugs for any "behavioral" issues, insist on vaccinations (although there is now evidence of the link between vaccinating before five years of age and autism), discourage cloth diapering, insist on pre-school, and all of those other "instituional" remedies for "parents."

I don't think there is such a thing as "failure to thrive" in a two week old. A two month old who isn't gaining weight, maybe, not two WEEKS! That's just crazy. All babies lose a bit of weight in the first days/weeks of life.

Use your own intuition. YOU would know if there was something wrong ... and find a new doctor. One who doesn't equate intelligence with income.

jenny said...

Patty-- You're absolutely right-- words DO sting. Being deaf, I have had penty of hurtful words tossed my way growing up and as an adult, you don't expect it to continue. There are times when I am not sure if the way I am being treated is because I am deaf or they do that to everyone. In any case, I tend to avoid people like that, and now that I see what kind of doctor he is, it's time to go elsewhere. Thank you for your kind words, sweetie. It means a lot to me! :o) xo

Wendy-- In the brochure the doctor gave me at the hospital, about his office and practice, it stated that he was the father of 6 kids and supported breast feeding. I felt good when I read that, thinking that as a father of 6 kids he would be... knowledgeable about stuff. Now I am thinking different.

When Oldest had low iron, he pediatrician (a different one) wanted to put her on iron pills. I opposed that because iron pills can cause constipation and we thought that we could adjust our diet instead. The doctor wasn't happy with us and told us to come back in 2 weeks to retest her blood. We looked up foods with iron and adjusted our eating habits and in 2 weeks, her iron was back up in normal levels. Medicine is not always the right answer.

I look at my son and I see a perfectly healthy child. The moment I see something that is "off" I would do something about it.

Thanks for the reinforcement and the encouragement. We most definetly will be looking for a new doc!