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Our first month with Belle

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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Our first month with Belle

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our first month with Belle

Remember this...

I loved this little hat.  But I wondered.  I wondered as I was putting the finishing touches on this little hat if, in fact, it would be too little.

My concern was that it isn't very stretchy.  There's no forgiveness in this little hat.  Still, I loved it.  So I hoped.

Then my little Belle was born.  Nine pounds, nine ounces.  And she was big.  That pudgy little face... I can still see it.

Do you see that sweet, soapy little head?  It was not going to fit into that cute little[r] hat.

It's okay, I decided.  I have a big, healthy, baby girl!  That's good enough for me. 

And she was nursing better than any of my other babies already.  We were off to a good start.  I'd spent a lot of my pregnancy praying that this baby would gain weight as she should, unlike any of my others. 

We left the hospital the next day and just like the others, I began following her weight gain on my scale at home.  We were home a day earlier than I was used to with my other babies because of the night time birth and no group beta strep, so I wasn't surprised that her weight was down a bit more that first day home.  Even the next day.  She wasn't loosing at an alarming rate, and I know that first week is tricky with milk coming in and all, so I determined not to worry.

Things were going well, so when Saturday came, we said with sureness of heart, that we were going to be fine on our own and sent My Beloved's mother home to Michigan with his dad.  It seemed silly to take her offer to stay when it meant Dad would have to do the whole 9 hour drive again the following weekend to pick her back up.  No, we were fine.  She could certainly go home with him.  The church would be bringing meals and things were settling in nicely.  So we said good-bye Saturday morning and off they went.

It was when I weighed Belle again that afternoon that I began to wonder if something really was wrong.  She weighed in at 8 pounds 8.5 ounces.  More than a pound lost since birth.  Seemed to me that was more than the "considered normal up to 10% of birth weigh lost".  We watched even more closely.  Then it seemed to be leveling out.  Monday morning the doctor wasn't worried.  He looked her over said that she didn't have any signs of dehydration.  I was so encouraged.  Now I could relax a little.

But I'm not good at relaxing.

By Tuesday or Wednesday she'd lost another two ounces, so I started pumping and feeding her by cup.  This took so much time and I really started to doubt our decision to send my mother-in-law home!  I also made a call to the hospital's lactation consultant.  Her weight went up some before my lactation appointment Thursday afternoon, but I'd fed several feedings exclusively with expressed milk and that little medicine cup and topped her off with it for all the rest.

Turns out that she was a model nurser during our appointment, not doing it the way she usually had.  The consultant said she wouldn't call her a strong nurser, but she was doing okay.  Part of me was frustrated that Belle didn't demonstrate what we had been doing so I could get the help we needed, but the other part of me was grateful.  At least now I knew that if we could do this good (and now I knew it was possible), it was "good enough".  During that nursing, she took in almost 2 ounces of milk (we did a before and after weighing).  And as I nursed and we talked, I answered question after question for her.  As we wrapped up our time together, she said she thought it was going to be okay.  That after hearing that all my babies have been slow gainers, she thinks it's just the way it is with me.  She also said that I could continue adding cup feedings after nursings as long as I thought I needed to and that I could come back if I needed as well.  I left their encouraged too.

Then, the next day, she'd lost everything she'd gained the previous... and by Monday, now 2 weeks old, she weighed 8 pounds 5 ounces.  I continued pumping (a couple times a day) and feeding Belle with the cup, one sip at a time, after each day time feeding.  This took most of my time.  She nursed 45 minutes to an hour each time, then took 10-20 minutes to take another ounce or more by cup.  Then a couple times a day I would pump... and wash all that I used to do that.

I continued this all week and by Saturday she'd gained 3 1/2 ounces!  The doctor, Wednesday, said she looked healthy.  He still wasn't worried.  This blew my mind.  The pediatrician we used to use would have said "failure to thrive" and put us on formula weeks ago!  So glad we changed doctors.

Saturday came and went.  She'd weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces.  It was time for bed and I'd had no chance to pump all day.  I was out of breast milk for cup feeding the next day.  I figured I'd try to get it done in the morning after My Beloved and the big kids left for church.  But it didn't happen.  It was afternoon, she'd weighed in half an ounce down for the day, and I still didn't have any milk pumped.  I took a deep breath and decided to just see what happened.  This would be a good test, after all.  What would she do if left only to nursing?

Monday's weight... she'd regained that half an ounce lost!  I was thrilled.  It wasn't much, but it was on her own strength, and she never looked back.  I haven't pumped since.

That first month of her precious life was long.  Hectic.  Busy!  But I am grateful for it.  I am reminded again that it is the baby we are to look at, not the scale!

She was wetting diapers, pooping, waking, sleeping.  She was strong.

She was fine.

I'm hopeful that I've learned my lesson for this baby and that I won't worry each month about what the numbers on the scale read.  Each of my other children have grown slower than the charts said they should.  And each of them was fine.  This time I want to watch the baby!  Not the scale!  And to truly trust the Lord for wisdom when it comes to problems!

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At May 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM , Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing this story! As an exclusive pumper (not my choice, we just never were able to make a successful transition after the NICU), I understand how difficult and time-consuming baby feeding can be! Glad it all went well in the end :).


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