Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Moment of Truth

So yesterday was Emma's follow-up with the GI. Her reflux has been bad (not worse, but not better); she's been constipated; she had lots of blood in her stool last week (after going almost 3 full days without a bowel movement); and she woke up crying 3 nights in a row after I ate some Vegan chocolate cookies (allergy-free AND delicious I might add...). So, I was expecting to be told formula was the next step. I was sad, but spent the last week praying about it and slowly came to terms with the fact that this was best for Emma. Plus, I've been having goofy things happening to me and have been registering record low numbers on the scale, so I was okay with it. I thought.

Then the GI tests her stool and not only is the consistency okay, but there was no blood. In other words, she's fine. The blood from the other day was because of her "constipation," which is actually normal, according to the GI. He said he has seen breastfed babies go 10 times a day and some go every 10 days. Our peanut is growing still -- currently 14 lb, 13 oz and 26 1/4 in -- so her body is absorbing what it needs and getting rid of it WHEN it needs to.

Oh, okay. But what about the reflux?

The Prevacid won't stop it from happening; it will only make it less painful. The rest she will have to grow out of over time.

Okay, so what does this mean?

Well, the diet has obviously worked, which means I can continue breastfeeding. I should be happy, right? But I'm not. Jeff really thinks it's time to move her to a hypoallergenic formula. But if I do that, it's for selfish reasons, not for Emma's benefit like I have been telling myself for the last week. That's hard for me. I feel like I'm letting her down.

Still, she IS uncomfortable when she nurses (I can tell it hurts her), and I am literally driving myself crazy about the eating thing. The second she cries, I rack my brain, "Oh crap. What did I eat?" I think the cookies put me -- and Jeff -- over the edge. It wasn't like I was cheating and had a slice a pizza. I ate something I thought was safe, but it still seemed to hurt her. And being responsible for physically hurting your child is a horrible feeling and terrible burden. I cried and cried out of guilt: I didn't need the cookies. How could I do that to her? That's when Jeff said, "Enough is enough."

After MUCH discussion, we've decided to wean her for the next week or two. It won't be the easiest thing I ever do, but I guess it is for the greater good. I hope. Part of me is relieved, while the other half is sad and full of guilt. The good news is I have an awesome support system. Jeff has been really supportive, and I know his concern is only out of love. He has a vested interest in Emma and me, so I know he has thought long and hard about this. And my mom and sister have also been great listeners, as have my close friends. Thank you everyone for your patient ears and kind words. I know I can get a little nuts sometimes and talk in circles, but you were all loving and non-judgmental. Thank you.

I guess it's all about letting go. A part of the parenting role that I just have to get used to. I guess part of me still felt I had some form of "control" if I was the one feeding her. But in the end, her true discomfort -- her reflux -- is nothing I can "fix."

As far as being sad about weaning, my mom reminded me that I will be sad no matter when I decide to stop breastfeeding Emma -- whether it's now or 6 months from now. So true. And maybe, just maybe she WILL sleep better at night (although I have to add that ALL current research says food has nothing to do with sleep patterns). Still, if we can eliminate one or two night feedings, maybe her reflux won't wake her up and she will be able to sleep comfortably -- hopefully.

So then came the moment of truth -- Emma's first formula feeding. She's never had anything but breast milk, but she took it okay. I wasn't there, but Jeff said she kind of looked at him like, "What's this?" and played with the bottle for a few minutes. Then she must have decided she was hungry enough, so she sucked it down. All of it. So now we wait and see if she reacts. The formula still has the proteins in it (which cause the allergic reactions), but they are supposedly broken down enough for her to easily digest. We will see. If she's okay, she'll be on formula from here on out (even it is $25 a can... yikes!). If not, I will continue to breastfeed. That's the plan.

One upside, of course, is I will be able to eat, eat, eat! It's weird to think about. I'm so used to water, veggies, organic oat bran, rice milk, fruit, and organic chicken and turkey, that anything else will feel "wrong." I guess that's the positive I received from all of this. I have always liked eating healthy, but now I even enjoy cooking healthy, as in from scratch. That's right... from scratch. I even made homemade French fries (in Canola oil) for Jeff the other day. Not rocket science and certainly not very healthy, I know, but the point is that before I would have never entertained the idea, especially when a McDonald's is just down the street. Why bother? Now I see how fun it is. I am making Jeff homemade spaghetti sauce tonight.

Overall, I plan to incorporate my new healthy habits into our everyday meals. I have to say that God is so good -- He always brings a positive out of every experience. Heck, if I didn't have the gestational diabetes, how would I have had the discipline to stay on this new diet? His plan is always perfect.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have planned my first splurges, and they are NOT healthy. Let me indulge you all: it will start off with a Starbucks white chocolate mocha (soy, no whip) for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I so miss PB!!) for lunch, and Aurelio's pizza (extra sauce) for dinner. And brownies for desert, of course. Not that I've put that much thought into it or anything.

So there you have it. Our first major parenting decision has been made. We just pray it was the right one.


Kiki said...

I started reading your blog right before Emma was born. She is beautiful by the way! I wanted to encourage you that you shouldn't feel guilty about weaning your baby. It is a very difficult decision but it sounds like it is the best for the whole family, not just you. I am sure Emma will never go to therapy and say, maybe if i was breastfed longer...

Jana Dykstra said...

Lisa - I'm eager to find out how the formula experiment turns out. You mentioned that you feel guilty for weaning her - why? you didn't explain, I don't think. Something that I think mothers have a hard time remembering/realizing/gripping with is that usually our sanity is more important in making our children happy and productive and well-adjusted than breast feeding for a certain length of time, or putting them to bed at a certain time at night, or {insert the issue you worry about most here}. If you are unhappy and stressed out, Emma can feel it and she'll be stressed out, too. The most stressful time in our marriage was the 10 days that our old house was on the market - during that time Dave and I were both uptight and fighting all the time, which is unusual for us. Nora was 6 months at the time and was an exceptionally easy and happy baby. During those 10 days, though, she cried more than ever and was generally unhappy and crabby. As soon as we sold our house, Dave and I were relieved and the stress was gone and Nora went back to being her happy, good self.
Whatever you decide, you are Jeff are obviously putting a lot of thought into your decisions and that goes a long way. I admire you for what you have done so far. I'll continue praying that Emma starts feeling better and things get worked out soon for you guys. Love you!

Mama C-ta said...

Well you know I support whatever you decide! I know first hand how tough the diet is and how crazy it can make you. I know what it's like to sit there crying as you feed your baby wondering if you are doing more harm than good! Nobody is going to (or shouldn't!) think less of you by weaning. Like I said, you know how many mothers wouldn't even have tried what you did?

Then there is the selfish side of me that is really interested in how the formula trial goes since I was so curious to do it but never did. So I'm kinda glad she's on formula now so I can see the results;) Just kidding, I know it's such a tough position to be in. It's hard when what's "best" doesn't seem best!

No matter what happens I hope Emma gets some relief and you get some food in ya! By the way, you are killing me w/your first non-dieting menu!! All I have to say is pllllease have some pizza and brownies for me!!!