Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weighing It Out

Saoirse is now 2 months old.
On Wednesday we had her 2 month check up and guess what?
She is perfect!

But perhaps I should back track a bit.....
Saoirse was born a whopping 8lbs 15 ounces, so pretty much 9 pounds even. Of course the nurses and doctors all ohhhed and ahhhed over how big she was, but I have to admit I was relieved that she was relatively small-ish considering that my last pregnancy yielded 15 pounds of baby, granted there were two of them in there. Even my last singleton pregnancy (Micah) ended with a bang since he was a chunky lump of nearly 10 pounds! So even as all the medical staff marveled at Saoirse's large size, I personally marveled at how perfect she was, not too little and certainly not too big.
She took to the breast immediately almost as if she was showing off how skilled she was and we faced very few problems in those early days while establishing our breastfeeding relationship. By the time she was one week old we had pretty much gotten over any of our initial hurdles and she was nursing on demand and even sleeping 5-6 hour stretches at night. I couldn't believe our good fortune and felt incredibly lucky that life with our newest little one was developing with such seamless grace.
As I've mentioned before, and probably will for the rest of my days, when we brought Nuala and Oscar home from the hospital there was nothing seamless about it. We ran into all sorts of trouble during those first few weeks. From Jaundice issues accompanied by billi blankets (which were very strange machines the hospital sent us home with that were essentially very large ace bandage guaze wraps that plugged into humming machines and glowed in the dark) and countless heel pricks that were incredibly painful (just a guess here, but their screams during each collection were a fairly decent indicator) and left their poor little feet looking battled and bruised, to breastfeeding issues that took weeks, heck MONTHS even, to resolve. And who could ever forget the slow start they both had gaining weight? My two relatively GIANT twin babies each lost a great deal of weight in those early weeks and dropped well into the 6's. Oscar lost so much weight that his skin became loose and started to "hang" off his body in an irregular way. By the time they were 2 weeks old we had been into the dr's office more times than I can even remember and they still were not back up to their birth weights. By the time they were 3 weeks old I was told that I would need to start supplementing their diets with formula or pumped milk. It was a very difficult and demoralizing time for us. Eventually they turned the corner and began growing like weeds, like jelly beans, like round little fat little frosted cupcakes. In fact one of Oscar's very first nicknames was "chunker butt", but still those first few weeks were nerve wracking to say the least.
Naturally I assumed that with Saoirse we would dodge all of those weight issues, especially since she was so big at birth, there was only one of her to feed and plenty of milk to go around. So imagine my surprise when during our 2 week appointment she still wasn't back up to her birth weight, weighing in at 8.10 when they wanted her to be back up to 8.15. I watched the numbers on the scale with a sinking heart, and prepared myself for what was to follow.
"You'll need to start waking her up every 4 hours to eat," said the dr. "Do you think perhaps she is just such a good baby that she doesn't complain loud enough to get your attention when you're busy with the other kids?" she asked. At which point I almost laughed out loud, I mean honestly, if anything it was the other kids who were finding creative ways to get my attention at that point and TRUST me they were plenty loud enough!
"You know, she looks great, she looks perfect and if I could ignore the weight I would, but we'll need to see her again in 5 days for a re-check."
I suppressed my tears, held my head high and left the office with an appointment for the following week. Looking back it doesn't sound like such a big deal, but at the time, for me, it was. It was a very big deal. I drove home consumed with feelings of inadequecy and dread, wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't even manage to bring one small baby back up to her birth weight over the course of 2 long weeks. Was I doing it right? Was I even producing enough? Was something wrong with my child? Was I going to be instructed to supplement again? And did I honestly have the energy or the time to continue commuting out to the dr's office, a 20 minute trip one way, just for weight checks? $30 weight checks? Did I really, REALLY, need to start waking her up at night, during all that precious REM sleep? Really?
By the time I got home I was done feeling sorry for myself and was done feeling like a first time mom. I dipped into Target and bought a baby scale. I began weighing the baby after every diaper change and sometimes in between just for fun. I continued to nurse her on demand as frequently as possible and even tried to squeeze in a few extra sessions throughout our incredibly busy days. I did NOT ever, even one time, wake her up in the middle of the night to nurse. I let her sleep, I let me sleep, and then when she finally did wake on her own at 3 or 4 am I would wonder briefly if I was doing the right thing for us. Morning would bring the sunrise and I couldn't get her on the scale fast enough, willing the numbers to support my decisions. By day two of being a repeat scale offender she had gained a meaningful amount and was back up to birth weight, by the end of day three she was well into the 9's and by day four I was calling the dr's office to cancel her weight check appointment. I felt giddy and relieved and completely validated. I think buying that baby scale saved my sanity during those first few weeks, and it was a rapidly formed habit that I had a difficulty letting go of once the time came to pack the scale away.
Well, time passed by and although Saoirse continued growing and developing right on track, I decided that perhaps I should schedule a 2 month baby check for her. Of course there was some dispute once I phoned the office.
"Well, when was her 1 month check up?", asked the receptionist.
"Oh, she didn't have one", I replied.
At which point I was put on hold a number of times while they pulled the chart and then was actually told that they would have to call me back. The head receptionist called later that afternoon to let me know our dr. was on vacation for the next few weeks but that I NEEDED to bring baby in the following afternoon for a weight check. We talked in circles for what felt like a painfully long time, with her arguing in favor of the chart and me trying to stand my ground. I was at the park watching the older kids playing on the jungle gym, helping the twins down various slides, with Saoirse nuzzled up against me in the baby carrier, her fat little legs hanging down like pastries in the afternoon sun. And she ALMOST got me, this receptionist, to agree to a drive out there, it's hard sometimes to speak up and stand up for what you know to be true. Had it been Maija, had it been me as a mom 10 years ago I would have agreed in a heart beat, I would have never said no, but so much has changed in the past 10 years and as a mother your voice only grows stronger over time.
"Look, I'll be glad to make a 2 month check up with my dr. once she's back from vacation, but I will not be able to bring Saoirse in before that".
And with that we were done talking in circles and I had left any glimmer of mom guilt behind me, at least for the time being (trust me it's everywhere, and even when you win a round there is always another one around the corner). I took Saoirse in for her exam and was very pleased with the numbers on the scale (12.2) and very happy to speak with our dr. about life with 2 month old. We did not get any shots, but that is a story for another time.

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