Failure to thrive.
What a shitty, triggering diagnosis.
Biologically, we as mothers are wired to believe that it is our sole responsibility to get our babies to grow. Anything less is a complete and utter failure.
That can’t just be me who feels that way.
There’s something so deeply ingrained in our cells that as mothers, our job is to ensure our babies are well nourished. It's why I believe there continues to be the fucking endless debate and discomfort with how we feed them. Bottle or boob. Breastmilk or formula. Blah or blah.
I don’t know a single mother who hasn’t felt the need to answer how they feed their children with a list of x,y and z reasons for why they chose that given road. Which itself is silly. Because why should we ever have to justify or explain how we feed our children to others? When has it ever been anyone’s business but our own?
Here I thought the battle of homemade versus store bought was plenty.
Throw in a baby who fails to grow despite both boob and bottle?
Well, shit. Stick a fork in me.
No really, jam the fork straight into my eyeball and I think that would actually be less painful than the road this monkey has led me on.
So many things people have said have triggered this aggressive, defensive reaction when it comes to both the journey and where we landed.
From well-intentioned advice…
Have you tried to nurse her like this, have you tried to offer your boob like that?
Have you tried this bottle, this flow rate nipple?
This formula? That formula?
Have you fed her like this, like that?
How is her suck, her latch, her tongue tie, her appetite...
To casual observation...
She looks totally fine.
She’s so happy.
She’s just a slow starter.
She's just a lazy eater.
She's really tiny.
What's wrong with her?
Why doesn't she eat more?
Why are you so stressed out?
To the (perceived) judgment…
Are you feeding her on demand? On a schedule? When she’s hungry? Every 3 hours?
Are you breastfeeding? Are you bottle feeding? Are you responding to her cues?
Are you burping her? Are you offering your boob, are you offering the bottle?
To doctors notes, on-going questions, and inconsistent opinion on care:
"She needs more calories, less volume." "She needs less calories, more volume."
"It's a motility issue." "Motility schmotility"
(-to be fair, no one actually said schmotility but they might have well as)
"It's a feeding issue." "It's not a feeding issue."
“Mother fails to follow instructions and continues to nurse Aspen overnight…”
“Mother fails to provide supplemental formula at times, instead choosing to offer breastmilk alone…”
“Are your formula scoops packed or unpacked?
"Are you preparing 22, 24, 26 calorie breastmilk …?”
Here's the thing, after all this, what I essentially hear:
"Are you fucking up, Brie?"
Fair to say, my head has imploded when responding, analyzing and answering these questions.
And the questions, comments, and implications have been endless.
Have they all been implications? Of my failure? Of my inability to facilitate her growth?
Of course not. Have I ever been able to shake the thought they aren’t? Hard nope.
Motherhood on its own is a minefield of guilt, worry and doubt.
Sprinkle in just enough opinions or thoughts of others and BOOM!
What’s shakin’ you right now?
Shaking you to the core… where one more step and you’re gonna to blow…?
I don't know about you but ask me one more time about what bottle I’m using and look the fuck out.