October 3, 2012

Day 3: Every Ounce


This morning Mary Brooks went to the doctor to be weighed. Two weeks ago, at seven months old, she had fallen off the growth chart and her weight gain was slow, almost stagnant. 

After hanging around twelve pounds all summer, MB had gained just two ounces from August to September; we were disappointed. It was puzzling, even troubling. She is a great eater and we'd confirmed the volume of milk she gets each day is more than sufficient. So what did this mean? How could we fix it?

As her mom, and the source of her nutrition, I felt pressure, frustration, heartache. I hate dealing with the reality of what happened earlier this year; I like to pretend Mary Brooks has floated through her life without a care.

The stakes felt high. Babies with intestinal malrotation sometimes see long-term issues with weight gain or nutritional absorption after surgery, but to that point it had seemed Mary Brooks was going to avoid such issues.

We hoped she'd continue to thrive without intervention; for a number of reasons, I was eager to continue breastfeeding her exclusively. I nursed Mac his first year and didn't want to introduce formula to MB's already-manhandled insides unless we were certain it was necessary.

I wasn't ready to quit nursing. It felt wrong to give up breastfeeding when we could do it; so many other moms can't but desperately want to.


I consulted Mary Brooks' pediatrician, her surgeon, a nurse, two lactation consultants and a pediatric dietician. I sat on other moms' couches and clogged up their inboxes with questions. I listened to my gut, no pun intended.

MB is happy, strong, exceeding her developmental milestones, smiling constantly. I just knew she was well and didn't need anything to make her grow but time. Having set a date to follow up, we had just fourteen days to see a difference before things escalated.

And boy did we work hard these last two weeks.

I've been fighting off the same nasty sinus infection for a month, and nursing has kept me from the 'good' drugs. Besides popping thrice-daily antibiotics, getting steroid shots and hacking like the Marlboro Man, my top priority has been fattening up Mary Brooks.

Extra feedings, longer mealtimes, fattier additions (avocados galore!) to her homemade baby food - we did it all. Her nutrition was my full-time job, and despite her medical history and the unlikelihood of success, we saw a little miracle. A greatly appreciated little miracle.

Terrified that another two weeks without significant gains would mean a dire diagnosis or a series of tests, I plopped MB onto the scale this morning, naked as the day she was born.

The verdict? About 19 ounces gained in two weeks. The largest, fastest gain since her surgery. She's back on the growth charts at a whopping 2.35%. So, so very proud of our little bundle!

We're thankful for every ounce of you, Mary Brooks. May you remember this when you're 16 and "just want to lose three pounds." Your health is all we care about; your cuteness is secondary. And, for what it's worth, we happen to think you're physically perfect, scar and all.

Thank you, Lord, for insides that work and a baby who's growing!

*This post is day 3 in my 31 Days of What Matters.

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