When your fourth baby arrives you think you know how to be a “good” mom and you think you are a “pro”.
When your fourth baby comes out a girl (after three boys), prepare yourself for some serious shock, surprise, denial, depression and acceptance.
When you have breastfed three other children for a total of 6 1/2 years you SHOULD know a lot of things about breastfeeding when your fourth baby comes.
When your fourth baby doesn’t cry or fuss you celebrate that you have the “perfect baby”, the fourth baby is a charm!
When your fourth baby is a “good sleeper” you celebrate. You are happy to get a few consecutive hours of sleep. You enjoy the quality time with your other children during those naptimes.
When your fourth baby doesn’t gain any weight you start to worry…
We knew something was wrong when Nola Mae was about five or six weeks old. I was getting frequent weights checks at different places. There were different weights on the scales at the clinic, with my midwives and at baby group. We didn’t worry too much because there would be differences in those scales. Sandy, my lactation consultant, was concerned because none of the scales were showing any weight gain. Which led me to start seeing her regularly for about a month at the hospital. (I wrote about Sandy & my struggles with breastfeeding my 1st baby, click here to read that story.)
Since I was tandem nursing Henry and Nola Mae I was being careful not to breastfeed Henry for long periods of time or regularly. I heard my family’s comments and concerns that if I tandem nursed Nola Mae wouldn’t get enough.
For a week I kept track of when both of them would breastfeed and I continued to distract Henry when he would request to “nuk” and I would make sure Nola Mae nursed on each side. It was very interesting to see I was spending at least seven hours each day breastfeeding and very frequently and there was hardly any weight gained.
I did the weight test to see how much milk Nola Mae was getting in a typical feeding. First you weigh the baby, nurse for a “normal” feeding, then weigh the baby again. With the very accurate scale that my lactation consultant has we found out that Nola Mae’s total intake of breast milk was 1.8 ounces in a 15 minute latch. This was very bad news! Where did my milk go?
Sandy suggested I take fenugreek. I went straight to the Nutrition Center in Waupaca and bought a bottle (without looking at the price), opened it in the car and took my first capsule at 11:30 AM. At 4:30 PM my milk had arrived and I was feeling very “full”.
Side note: I NEVER purchase anything EVER without looking at the price, until I had this bottle in my hand. I didn’t really care how much this bottle would cost me. I needed to make more milk for my baby! I pay attention to everything I spend my money on. I don’t always remember birth dates but I can tell you how much I paid, almost to the cent, for big and small purchases/expenses. I purchased a total of three bottles of the fenugreek and one bottle of Motherlove: More Milk Plus (one bottle of this was given to me). I can’t tell you how much that cost. Now that I am writing about this I was interested in knowing how much I spent to get my milk to return. Total spent on the fenugreek and the More Milk Plus – $95. The cost of weigh-in/consults with lactation consultant, I don’t know this amount. Our insurance doesn’t pay for the consults, so whatever that cost us I have no idea!
I wanted to compare my way of getting my milk back to the cost of formula feeding a baby. I did a quick search on the estimated cost of formula feeding for one year, it’s somewhere around $1,138 – $1,188 plus bottle cost. Also, additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life.
I learned there are two things in this world that I don’t care how much they cost – fenugreek and a skidsteer. (I was able to convince Jack to stop looking and thinking about the price tags on skidsteers, because he bought me one this summer!)
Back to my story…
I spent the next four days worried, praying, and keeping track of everything. I also was relived that we were figuring things out.
I had the fenugreek and it was starting to work. I am very thankful because that isn’t always the case with mothers who are unable to produce enough milk for their baby.
I continued to keep track of her feedings. I started to realize from my notes that shortly after I sat down to breastfeed Nola Mae all hell would break loose in our house with the older boys. I would put down my “happy-sleepy” baby and take care of what was needed. Sometimes it was one of the boys sneaking food out of the pantry (guess who!) just before a meal, or someone was hurt, or someone needed wiping, or fighting started between the boys, just to name a few events that interrupted Nola Mae’s feedings. When I went back to my baby to finish feeding her, I would find her sleeping. Never wake a sleeping baby, right? I should have because I was loosing my milk.
All this time when she wasn’t getting much milk she wasn’t making that wonderful swallowing noise that babies do when they drink. How did I miss that? I started to realize that all this time when she would have a wet diaper it wasn’t full and her BMs weren’t so big. How did I miss that? I started to realized that all this time she was sleeping, being one of my happiest babies that maybe she is a very easy-going baby that rarely complained about being hungry. I was starving her!
At one of my appointments with Sandy, she said, “Nola Mae when you are the fourth baby you have to speak up! That means you may have to cry a little.”
I feel blessed to have the four children in my family that I always dreamed of having. I never expected it to be so difficult. Four children really put me over the edge during that first year! And there are many days where life isn’t “easy” for me. Each of our children teach us many different things throughout our parenting journey. I feel as though Nola Mae taught me a few things during her first year of life. I often wonder what kinds of things my fourth baby will teach me in the future.
It has been over a year since I started writing this post, it has been a difficult topic to write and think about. I will always wonder in my heart, “what if I would have nursed Henry more often would I have lost my milk?”, “would Nola Mae’s weight issues been blamed on Henry and our tandem nursing?”, and “would we have experienced this trouble if I nursed Henry and Nola Mae all the time?” I have healed a little and come to terms with how rough our first year with four children really was.
I found this in my journal notes. I know a lot of breastfeeding mothers have moments like this but it was really hard for me to accept these feelings and I am surprised I even wrote this down. “A couple of weeks ago I was ready to quit breastfeeding. I have a friend who formula feeds and she has such a chunky baby. Formula fed babies aren’t the only ones that are chunky! I have a cousin who exclusively breastfeeds her very beautiful chunky baby. I want some of that chunk on mine! The fenugreek that I started taking last Thursday is working. Everyone I talk to about it was impressed that I got such quick results. My milk is coming back and Nola Mae gained 5 oz. in four days (1 oz./day is “standard”). I will get the next weight check next Thursday and it seems too long for me to wait.
All I want to do is nurse her constantly and at the same time I don’t want to be tied down to nursing her and be the sole person responsible for her health and growth. I have gone back to taking the postpartum supplements because I have been having a lot of moments of ups and downs and not much in the middle.
It hit me this past weekend that I am in over my head with four kids. Henry was tired, impatient, unreasonable (like any normal tired 3 yr old) and crying, instead of being loving and kind and understanding I screamed at him. It was horrible! That was one of my worst moments as a mother. The root cause I think is from me feeling like a horrible mother who can’t feed her baby my heart is not here. I was still out of patience that night at bedtime. Robbie may have been able to tell because he kind of took over with Henry by reading to him and asking him to cuddle with him. Later I thanked Robbie for being a great big brother and helper to me and he said “well, you’re a great mom.”
I saw my midwife on Wednesday night. Jack came home and I left to pick up the postpartum supplements. When I got to her office she had a lemonade iced tea waiting for me and asked me to stay and talk to her. I stayed an hour! It was wonderful to talk to her. My week has gotten better.
I spent the afternoon at the beach with my close friend, Kat. I didn’t get much deep conversations done because of watching each other kids in the water and visiting with other moms. But it was nice to be out in the fresh air, watching the boys having so much fun.”
Nola Mae is still “smaller” than some children her age but she is just as healthy and smart as any 17 month old child.
A great read and a salute to all mothers who do their best every day: http://ouradoptionfaithwalk.blogspot.com/2013/08/world-breastfeeding-week-salute.html