If you haven't read the last three or four posts--you might want to. It'll help explain a lot!
May 31 ~ Baby Girl's third birthday. Precious and I head to her doctor's appointment. The nurse who weighed her last week (and had me change the diaper) weighed her in. 6 lbs 14 oz. She asked what she weighed last week--6 lbs 14 oz to 7 lbs--depends on which weigh-in. Tears began to stream down my cheeks as I carried Precious to the exam room and waited for the doctor. We were trying so hard--how could she not be gaining weight?
The doctor came in and asked all the usual questions, washed her hands, and stuck her finger in Precious' mouth once again. Weak suck--we know. The doctor said, "I'm going to have to make her mad and get her mouth open really wide." And she did--and therein lied the answer.
A cleft palate--the soft palate in the back. Precious physically cannot make the suction she needs to effectively nurse (or even do well with the slow-flow nipples I have which Baby Girl used because that's what breastfed babies should use because they are most like breastfeeding). The doctor looked at me and I was crying--but relieved. She hugged me and apologized (numerous times) for not catching it sooner. Apparently it's really hard to see that far back unless the baby is really mad and she hates to make them mad--and also because the tongue takes up so much of the baby's mouth. The doctor felt so badly that it had been so hard on me and that it had been hard on Precious too. Precious had spent the first month of her life working so hard for every calorie she took in--she spent most of them trying to get the food in.
The doctor referred us to a specialist at nearby university hospital, one of the best in the region. That visit comes later. But now is the beginning of answers. Until we can get to the specialist, the plan is to nurse as we have been and then follow each feeding with an ounce of formula--in a new bottle--anything that Precious doesn't have to work so hard for. The doctor said 'get a bigger nipple.' Do you know how many options there are? I went to the store and looked bewildered in the bottle aisle. And randomly picked one because I had a sample of the bottle it fit at home, a sample I had gotten with Baby Girl and never used. As good a reason as any. The salesperson who tried to help me looked from me to Precious and said, "Are you sure the doctor really means for you to get a fast-flow nipple?" Yes--in fact she does; we don't want her to have to work so hard to eat.
We could look back and say, we should have known--I remember commenting that Precious doesn't have a uvula (that little hangy down thing in your throat). But I didn't say anthing--I thought maybe babies didn't have them at first. Well--that opening that I thought was missing the uvula and was the throat--that is Precious' palate--the uvula is split and that's where the cleft is. Her throat is farther back. But we aren't saying that--because there are too many blessings.
Blessing--I have LOTS of milk--supply is not an issue.
Blessing--I have an easy and quick let-down. Precious starts to cry and there is milk for her; she didn't have to suck and suck to get milk coming (though it was still hard).
Blessing--my mom lives in my town now and could be with Baby Girl when I spent hours and hours nursing Precious.
Blessing--we did have lots of nursing bonding time, even though that is now dwindling.
Blessing--this is not life-threatening (for me/us here and now--it could be in other places and certainly in past times)
Blessing--an excellent university hosptial only an hour away with specialists who deal with this all the time
Blessing--Precious is one tough girl; she's a fighter in a good way.
Blessing--a specialist that I really like upon first visit (for another post)