Even lottery winners have bad days

Where to begin? I’ve wanted to post about a thousand times over the last 6 weeks but haven’t been able to figure out how to put what I’m feeling into words.

First – having a preemie is much harder work than I had expected. It’s RSV season which means minimal contact with the world and the germs in it. So Obi and I are home. All the time. Feeding has been very challenging (see point two). Everyone I do come across tells me all the stories of all the babies they’ve ever heard of that have been born early and all of them are super rosy with happy ending with no talk of all the hard work and worry and setbacks and challenges which only serves to make me believe I’m the only one with an early baby who didn’t do ‘just perfectly from day one and is now fat as a pig’ or whatever term they use for every super fast growing happy fat preemie they’ve heard of. Thanks for that. Shut up now. Oh, and that whole “my c-section was a breeze – totally the way to go” thing is also a crock. I still can’t bump up against the kitchen counter or wear pants with a waist band without having shooting electric shock pain zipping from the area.

Second – she’s not thriving. The ongoing battle to increase her weight gain and maintain br.ea.stfeeding has been long, grueling and fruitless. She’s not gaining enough weight. I’ve been at the bre.as.tfeeding clinic twice a week for weight checks and more tips on how to bulk her up in addition to the 3 bottles of EBM + extra calories she gets each day. Today when I went, I was told what I’ve been dreading. We can’t wait for her to improve any longer. We need to increase the number of bottle feeds she gets a day. The more bottles she gets, the less interested she is in nursing. But her development is at risk if she doesn’t start gaining more weight faster. stat. I’ve done all I could. more than most would. but I need to accept that she needs to grow and if it comes from a bottle, it comes from a bottle. This is heartbreaking to me. Both because I really loved that bond with Bubble and because I feel like once again I’ve failed her. Oh, and it also makes me question if this is a sign of future delays not yet revealed.

Third – I still feel grossly inadequate because half the placenta died and she starved for 34 weeks. What kind of a mother only gives a kid half her food for 8.5 months.

Fourth – And while I’m whining, I’m supposed to feel lucky – I beat all kinds of odds to get pregnant, she beat all kinds of odds by surviving with only half her food (see above) but instead I feel tired, guilty, angry, anxious and sad. And before you say I might have post-partum depression, I looked up the signs and symptoms and I don’t think that’s it. I think things are actually tiring, upsetting, worrysome and not easy-go-lucky happy ending I was expecting.

Winning the lottery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes the prize, though wonderful (don’t get me wrong, love the baby to bits) brings a whole lot more than you bargained for.

NOTE: After writing this super downer post I got a call from the speech pathologist (who worked with her in the NICU to help improve her weak suck so she could take enough food by mouth to go home). As we were booking a followup for Friday and I explained my setback today she said “Thank goodness she can take a bottle. It’s far better than her having to go back in for an NG tube”. I had never even considered that as an option…so, for the silver lining HELLS YES, thank goodness she’ll take a bottle and we don’t have to readmit her for a feeding tube. Thank friggin’ goodness.

Obi. 6.5 lbs.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Even lottery winners have bad days

  1. Sorry to hear things have been rough. I can say that even with a full term baby with no significant problems with anything, there was a lot of worry and feelings in inadequacy to be able to take care of this helpless thing. I understand the guilt about having to use formula. I was terrified of the same thing and when we had a rough start to breastfeeding that was like the worst thing that could happen, or so I thought. Now, a while out, I have some perspective that what’s important is that your baby is fed what she needs. You are being an awesome mom for recognizing it and doing it even though you don’t want to. And there are huge benefits to formula (this coming from a baby who refused a bottle so it was me all the time, which was exhausting) such as other people being able to feed her and take over if you need a break. And I don’t mean that to be glib at all, but there are good things about bottles as well. Have you looked into donor milk as well? That could be another route you could go if you were interested.

    I wish I could give you a hug. Those first weeks and months are crazy without having worries like that. You’re not alone in having troubles, you’re not alone in not always enjoying every second or feeling inadequate.

    • Melanie

      Hey FrostedLemonCarrot,
      We haven’t gone to formula yet. I’m still pumping at this point but I know that the likelihood of being able to exclusively pump for long is slim. I know in my head that bottles and formula aren’t a big deal. A baby’s gotta eat and we’re lucky to have formula for all mom’s who choose to or need to feed their babies with an alternative to breast milk. It’s just sad that I’ve worked this hard – almost 10 weeks – to be able to nurse exclusively only to find I may soon not be able to nurse her at all. And not because of milk supply or latch (the reasons I hear most often) but for reasons no one can explain. She seems to be taking so much in and yet, when weighted, all those big gulps and big swallows only amount to half what she needs at every feeding at the best of times and far less during bad feeds. Sigh. I suppose just wish it were different.

  2. Magsy

    Obi is precious. Adorable! Hang in there, mama!!

  3. The good news? She’s beautiful. I can only imagine how hard it must be. We’re always our worst critic so try to be gentle with yourself. You didn’t fail her, you’re not failing her now. You have no control over your placenta and you’re going to lengths many wouldn’t to try and do right by her. I hope things get easier soon and the worry lessens some. We all know it never goes away. Good luck and know that we’re here for you, good or bad.

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