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“Failure to thrive” diagnosis leads to the creation of Udderly Amazing Goodies

 

For me the point of this story is to let others know how I felt shamed into thinking my son’s weight issues were my fault. I was pushed by many doctors to wean my son when there was no reason to. I want to say that I think that FED is best. In my opinion here is nothing wrong with giving your child formula. When a mom is facing their child struggling with weight issues we will do whatever is needed to make sure they stay healthy. It is not at all my intention to make moms feel shame if they have to use formula. My intention in writing this is to let other moms know they are not alone with being pushed to use formula instead of breastfeeding. For us sticking with it was the best decision for our family. Something I could not have done without having the correct information and these cookies for giving me the boost I needed to make it happen.

 

My son being diagnosed “failure to thrive” at 4 months is what lead me to create Udderly Amazing Goodies. After all I went through breastfeeding him I wanted to make sure other mothers would not have the same horrible experiences I did. This post will focus on my son’s hospitalization and how that impacted me starting this business. There were many other bumps in the road but I’ll write about those in another post.

 

Skylar decided to arrive early at 37 weeks weighing just 5 lbs 8 oz. I was so happy he latched and nursed well. I came prepared to the hospital with pumping bra in hand and requesting a pump to arrive when I got to my room. I started pumping after most feeds to get my supply up. Just as his sister did, he started to lose weight. (See my previous note about messages I received breastfeeding her). I remained calm and knew that this was normal and not to freak out. This time, and I know others might have a reaction to this, I did not feel like a failure when we had to supplement with formula until my milk came in. I made sure to feed him first and then pump. Yes, many people will say never ever do this but formula helped get him some food while I built up my supply. Unlike with my daughter I was not okay with him crying from hunger and losing an unhealthy amount of weight. I found a recipe online for lactation cookies and started to eat them daily when we got home. After one week my son was fully content with just nursing and we did not need to supplement at all. It was an amazing day! I really felt that the lactation cookies made all the difference in the world. I was so exhausted that I ate whatever was easy and thankfully they were filling and made with healthy ingredients that my body needed anyway. Plus who can say no to cookies, right?

 

After Skylar was about a month old, he was very fussy and I became resolved to the fact that he might have colic. I realized that I always ate dairy for dinner which in turn would go into my milk making him super fussy. I am a very picky eater so that was a big challenge to give up all dairy. (See the note on dairy free tips). It was at this time that I started to get the messages to wean him since people saw me struggle to eat. Have you seen how much dairy free formula costs? Have you smelled it? Yuck! I had a very limited diet and had to try one food at a time to see what he might react to. Our pediatrician was very supportive about breastfeeding. She did take note of his weight (being born in the 5th percentile) but he was also born a little early and breastfed so she wasn’t too concerned. He appeared to meet all his milestones and was growing on his chart then BOOM at 4 months he got RSV. All the kids in his daycare got it, it was horrible. Amazingly he was the only kid in his class who didn’t require medication or was hospitalized from it. He was also the only EBF baby too :) Proud mama moment for me! However, his weight went from the 5th percentile to the .05 percentile. I did not start him on solids until 6 months because I was very scared of an allergic reaction (epi pen in the ready!). It was an overwhelming feeling to be totally responsible for all his caloric intake but also an amazing feeling. Here my body supported his life through pregnancy, giving him everything he needed, an now as a baby my body is doing it again.

 

Skylar was not a big fan of food and would much rather nurse. The day care did all sorts of tricks to get him to eat. He had such a hard time taking a bottle while he was there. One day he was refusing to eat all morning and afternoon. They called me to come get him because they were worried he was ill. I rushed my hour drive from work freaking out that something was really wrong. I had missed a pump and thought that I would care less about pumping when dealing with a sick baby who was refusing to eat. I was grumbling to myself how much pumping sucked and how stressful it was to do at work. When I walked into the daycare he was so excited to see me. He got a huge smile on his face and signed for milk. I nursed him in the daycare and he had a look on his face as if to say “This is all I was asking for.” I had such a sense of joy in that moment. I said “Skylar, you are a stinker, mommy can’t come home and feed you each day, you need to learn to take a bottle.” His teachers told me that they ended up having to put him in a bouncer to feed him because when they held them he constantly tried to nurse from them. They joked that he would say “Uh, you want me to take a bottle? I see you have the real things there, just give me some of that and I will be happy.”

 

Around 6 months is when they started to be more concerned about his weight and referred us to a G.I. specialist. The first thing she told me was to wean him. She said that I had done a great job but formula would have higher calories than my breast milk. Plus she said at 6 months he should focus more on solid foods anyway. The doctor added that they wanted to know how much he was eating daily which they could not keep track of that when I was breastfeeding. I was fine with fortifying his breast milk when he was at daycare but no way was I going to not breastfeed him when I was home. A lot of work went into maintaining my supply working full time. There were some nights when I would be gone from 7 am to 8 pm so I was pumping 4 times a day at work. Luckily Sky was home with his dad at 4pm however, he would often refuse to take a bottle because he knew that I would be home sometime to feed him. He did this when he was super little and should have been eating every 2 hours. The boy did not like bottles. I was totally confused at how she wanted to take away the one food source he would always eat. We got so much advice from people about how to get him to eat. Relatives would come and get him to have a few bites and claim victory only for him to refuse that food totally the next day. A few times people would say “Well, if he doesn’t want to eat you can’t make him eat.” Uh, yes they can, it’s called a feeding tube. That was my greatest fear. The one constant message I got from EVERYONE was wean him. Skylar was a very active boy and pretty much burned every calorie he took in. His weight plateaued at 8 and 9 months. He was still meeting all milestones and was a happy boy. Every appointment the doctors pushed weaning. At 10 months he had not gained any weight for 3 months and wanted to hospitalize him to run further tests. He had already had tons of blood work and a sweat test for cystic fibrosis, all came back negative. Agreeing to hospitalization was the one thing that I regret most about this whole journey. My husband was worried that something might be wrong and ruling everything out we would finally have an answer either way. On June 20, 2013 he was hospitalized at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

 

When he arrived they told me that I could not nurse him because they had to precisely measure his input and output. Again I was told how superior formula was, especially calorie wise for him. I was in shock that at big name children’s hospital its doctors were telling me this. They said that he was close enough to a year and there was no real reason to continue. This enraged me. I brought my pump and pumped every two hours around the clock. Sleep deprived and extremely stressed I was getting half of what I usually do. Unfortunately this was further evidence to the medical professionals that I was a big part of the problem. It was clear to them that I was not producing enough milk for my son. When I was at work I would consistently pump 4-5 oz which is exactly the amount he would take from a bottle. In fact, when he would only eat 3 oz at school I would still make 5 oz while at work. I knew my supply was exactly the amount he needed. I also knew that this was a great pumping output. Plus pumping output is not a good indication for supply at all. The doctors also did not want me to bring my breast milk from home because “formula was better for him.” My son was in so much pain from the formula. He was so constipated it was horrible. After two days of hell my sister in law recommended I get the hospital lactation consultant involved to have an advocate. That was a game changer, thank God for her. The LC took at 24 hour collection of my milk and it turned out to have even more calories than the fortified formula. I cannot tell you how awesome that was to throw in the doctors’ faces. They were in disbelieve and told me that it might have been a fluke since the calorie count can vary each day and had it retested. BAM!! It was again still higher than fortified formula. At that point the LC brought in a scale for us to measure before and after feeds so they could have their “precise” measurement of his output. I got connected with the milk bank, which no staff on the floor knew anything about. They had no idea how to get my milk to them. When I did give them my milk, they had no idea how I would go about getting it back to use. It was a nightmare. How was a children’s hospital so clueless about breastfeeding? Finally I was able to bring my frozen breast milk and supplement him with that. I felt so much better emotionally. 5 days and a million tests later they found nothing to be wrong with my son and released us. However, because he was not taking a bottle and getting in all he needed the doctors insisted he come home with a feeding tube. Day two of being home with the tube he pulled it out. Uh..yeah...they expected us to put it back in. We were supposed to take a stethoscope and put in down his nose to his stomach. But, oh, take care that you don’t get the tube in his lungs and drown him. No thank you! I was not about to restrain him and continue this ridiculousness when the boy was totally fine.

 

He went to an occupational therapist for a full evaluation and came back that he does have some sensory stuff when eating but overall fine. We tried “chew therapy” with a speech therapist which felt pointless. They wanted us to come in 3-4 times a week to watch someone attempt to feed our son and stick things in his mouth while doing so. With the advice of his teacher and a friend of mine whose son was also struggling to gain we came up with a power house smoothie that we still use today. Coconut cream, Hagen Daz peanut butter chocolate ice cream, more peanut butter, carnation breakfast, and whole milk. Skylar will be 4 and still drinks it at least once a day. He is not the best eater but at almost 4 is in the 16 percentile and as happy as can be.

 

After going through this whole experience I was so angry at how much weaning was pushed on me. I was angry about the misinformation medical professionals had regarding breast milk supply. After much trial and error I came up with the lactation cookie recipe I have now. It is so much stronger than when I was eating them. This experience made me want to provide correct information to nursing moms. I don’t want a nursing mom to quit because she thinks her supply is low. If you chat with me or any of the ladies that work for Udderly Amazing, sometimes we talk you out of buying the cookies. Seems counter to what a business would do, right? Well our goal is to help you meet your breastfeeding goals and provide you with the correct information on how to make that happen. I know if I did not have the breastfeeding struggles that I did with my daughter I would not have known all the information that I had with my son. I would have not known that pumping amount is not a good indication of your breast milk supply. I would have believed all the misinformation the doctors were telling me and stopped thinking I was doing right by my son by breastfeeding him. All of the moms that work here have had their own struggles. We know how difficult it is and we are here to help so you do not go through the same difficulties that we have had. I hope hearing my story lets you know that you are not alone. You are doing the best you can to feed your baby. Remember FED is best! Let us provide you with information and support to help you meet your goals. That reason is why we exist.

-Christine

Creator/Owner

 

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