Wednesday, 22 April 2009

“Failure to Thrive”

Doesn’t that sound horrible? Supposedly, that is what’s “wrong” with Mayana.

Makes a Mama feel really good when she hears those words…

I dare anyone to look at my baby and tell me she’s not thriving!

I understand the problem, I just wish the term for labelling it was different.

Yesterday was the crappiest day I’ve had since Mayana was born.

As you know Mayana’s weight gains lately have been less than fantastic, and this week she started mucking around with her feeds… still feeding, just taking a little longer to get to business. I went to a maternal health nurse (MHN) on Monday, who just managed to get me down in the dumps by telling me that it’s all a supply issue – I haven’t got enough milk, blah blah blah She is the sort of person that if she says something once she says it 2000 times – so even though she says it nicely it still comes across really patronising.

I left there really confused, because I don’t feel like there is anything wrong with my supply. I can squirt milk across the room at any given time of the day for goodness sake! There is milk there, and she is drinking it… Not ALL women get engorged or have the let down sensation, and I’m one of them, it doesn’t mean I have no milk.

So yesterday morning I remembered being told about the lactation consultants at the hospital that are free to visit any day at any time. So once my little sleepy head woke up, off we went. The midwife was lovely, much more supportive than the drippy MHN I’d been to. First she stripped Mayana down, did a bare-weight, measure, head circumference etc. Weight was 3.65kg. Which is lower than I thought it was, though I hadn’t had her bare-weighed since her immunisation appt.

Midwife watched me feed, had a look at my breasts etc and said that it didn’t look as though supply was the issue. She seemed to think that the feeding issues this week were mostly to do with the fact (too much info coming up here) that my period has started again this week, and the hormones can change the taste of the milk and make bubs fuss (also another reason why this whole day messed with my emotions so badly). However, because the weight gain decline had begun long before this, she recommended a trip to the doctor to get some tests to rule out anything like a bladder infection.

So I rang my doctor and she managed to get me in fairly quickly. My doc was shocked at Mayana’s weight, especially given how fantastically she gained in the first 2 months. She agreed that she needed to be tested for infections, but that has to be done be a paediatrician. She looked at sending us to one of the two private paeds in Toowoomba, and told us that we’d be paying around $300, and that was only for the initial consult, the tests would cost more again, and we’d only get a fairly small percentage back from medicare. Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of money, so she rang the Base hospital (where M was born), and arranged for her to see the paed on call – who happened to be the same private paed doc had first called!! I thank God every day that we live in Australia.. and not somewhere like America! Yay for free public health.

So we went to Emergency at the Base with a letter from my doctor. We sat in the waiting room for maybe 1/2 an hour before a doctor came and got us. She ran initial tests – collected blood (which was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to watch, I cried the whole time), urine (a bag had been put into her nappy at my gp). We then sat around in a curtained room in emergency, waiting and waiting and not being told anything. I got asked the exact same questions 53 times by different people. Next thing they sent someone in with admission forms for me to sign, I asked if I was being admitted, that person didn’t know what was going on, it was ‘just in case’. Then another person came down and put an ankle tag on Mayana’s foot and told they were admitting her and watching her feedings. I told them she only would have 2 more feeds for the day and then she would sleep, and struggles waking up to feed. She told me to tell them that when I got up there. Up where!!??

Eventually a nurse came and led us up to the paediatrics ward, showed me “Mayana’s Bed” and told me to wait for the Registrar. I was so bewildered and overwhelmed by that point I just started bawling. I had no idea what was going on, whether they’d found something in her bloods or urine, no one had told us anything. A nurse came in (stinking of cigarette smoke by the way) and stripped Mayana off to weigh and measure her for the FOURTH time that day.. can these people not just ask us for her stats!?? Of course, she had started to nod off again when they did that and didn’t much appreciate being made naked, and screamed her guts out. All day people were assuming that she’s a stressed baby because she was upset all the time. Um, she’s upset because she’s missed her morning nap, she’s been poked and prodded at all day, had a needle in her arm, undressed and dressed so many times… she’s overwraught, and yes, stressed but because of YOU! Come to my house and see the happy, smiling, laughing, playing baby that she is 90% of the time. It was the most frustrating thing because people would not listen to me.. made me feel like … well like crap really. As if I don’t know my daughter.

The Registrar eventually came to us. He was so lovely, and it was the first time that I felt like someone actually listened to me all day. He told me that while she really does need to have a bit more weight happening, but because her length and head circumference have risen fairly significantly, he was not overly concerned, and didn’t see any need to keep her in. She is feeding as frequently as I am able to keep up with. He did suggest that I top her up after feeds with either expressed breast milk or formula (no thanks!). Even if she only takes another 10mls, that will add up to a whole extra feed by the end of the day (apparently on formula he would only tell me to feed her 70mls per feed). I am determined not to go to formula. I have been told that instead I can try giving Mayana a little bit of Farex with breast milk each day. I love our breast feeding relationship. I am making milk, there is plenty there, and she feeds well. Breast milk is good for her, good for her immune system, and good for me. So the lovely man sent me home!

We got home just after 6pm. The three of us were completely exhausted. We had left the house at about 9.30am, and hadn’t even had a chance to eat all day. When we got home I took Mayana for a bath, and fed her in there and she went off to sleep very quickly. I woke her for a feed just before I went to bed. She had a fairly decent feed, and luckily went back to sleep easily. This morning we gave her a top up bottle after her feed and she took just over 10mls, but we had to fight her for it. Farex this afternoon. My GP wants to see her on Friday and see if she’s gained anything. I also have to weigh her wet nappies to check her output to get an idea of how much she’s taking.

The main issue is this: She was born in the 3rd percentile for weight, and is now just below the 1st percentile. While she is healthy at the moment, the worry is that if she was to get sick for some reason, she hasn’t got a whole lot to fall back on – not much to be able to lose.

It’s all really stressful, and I want to trust my Mama instinct and hated being made to feel like I wasn’t doing so well yesterday.

For me, for Mayana, I need to remember this:

  • Mayana is a happy baby and anyone who knows her in real life knows that she spends most of the day grinning at everyone.
  • She is meeting all of her milestones.
  • She is very alert and loves to know what is going on around her.
  • She is extremely strong, she has incredible neck control, and can pull herself from lying down to standing up only holding onto my fingers.
  • There is a possibility that Mayana has started teething (judging by the amount of dribbling and gumming on things that she is doing).
  • Mayana feeds often and well.
  • I am making nourishing milk which is allowing my daughter to survive.
  • I know my daughter, and I know what is best for her.

We will get through this, Mayana will grow and get bigger, and I just want to put that whole crappy day behind me, and never go through any of that again!


  1. Oh Zoey! you poor thing, what an awful day! I had tears just reading your story! No one has the right to make you feel like a bad mother, especially considering how well you are doing! Hope things improve from here and the rice cereal helps (just wait till you see her facial expression eating it for the first time, classic!) Praying for better weight gains, Jess xx

  2. Mayana IS thriving mate!! Like you said...the smiles, the chatting etc. My 5 minutes run in with you guys and Miss M the other day was enough to know that she is doing well (extremely, in fact)...she's just petite!! Yay for the public lucky buggars!! Blah to the stinking nurse! Remember that you are a fabulous Mummy =)
    Lisa xx

  3. Zoey im so sorry you had to go through that i feel your pain
    Talon only gained 50gs this week and ive done everything i can to get him to feed better i feed him every hr just about but i had no choice but to give him formula as a top up
    Heath on the other hand has put on almost 200gs so there is nothing wrong with my milk i just dont have enough to go solo breast feeding im was devastated for a long time over it and im still not happy about it i express every feed and give to them in bottles so i know what they are drinking
    but once i produce more milk (if i can) then i will go back to just breast feeding

    im praying that Mayana picks up and starts to put on the weight shes ment to and that the people would start listing to you (i had a midwife at hosp that told me i got my boys mixed up needless to say i asked for another midwife)

  4. Zoey - just remember your last comment "YOU ARE HER MOTHER" no one knows her better than you, and she is gorgeous and doing well.

    Keep up the great work!! Believe in yourself.


Thank you!!


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