Thursday, March 10, 2011

failure to thrive

I was changing Cohen's diaper when I noticed it. Since he was born, Cohen has had the most delicious fat rolls in his thighs. Fat rolls that I may or may not pinch on occasion. But as I was changing his diaper, I noticed that the fat rolls had almost completely disappeared. When I looked up at his armpits, I noticed that the rolls of fat had been transformed to mostly loose skin there, too. Having gone through infant weight loss with Jude, I knew this was not a good sign. My heart further sank when I put a medium cloth diaper on him that was huge, and my fears were only confirmed when I pulled out a size 3 months onesie that fit him just fine (Cohen is almost 7 months).

I called my BFF and Shawn to talk through my fears and make sure I wasn't just overreacting, and then called to move Cohen's weight check up a few weeks. I watched as the nurse laid my sweet son on the doctor's scale, and saw that he weighed 13 lbs even. He had lost weight.

Our usually light hearted pediatrician came into the room, and with a very serious tone said, "We need to take some serious measures to find out why your little guy isn't gaining weight." After talking through our typical routine and asking me some questions, he deduced that Cohen's weight issues are being caused by one of three things: 1. Cohen has a metabolic disorder 2. Cohen's reflux is worse than we thought and he's spitting up more than we realize, or 3. My breastmilk has significantly fewer calories per ounce than is normal. Dr. Scott felt like the issue was most likely a breastmilk calorie issue and requested that we feed Cohen formula for a week to see how his weight changes. I mentioned that I have a freezer full of milk, but the doctor felt that he wanted to put Cohen on a "known carbohydrate source" to see how he does. If the issue is not enough calories in my breast milk, giving him more of my breast milk won't really solve the problem. We'll do a weight check in a week to see what further actions need to be taken.

Surprisingly, I was very calm and logical up until this point. I went into the appointment telling myself to put my personal pride and feelings aside and to be willing to do whatever I needed to do to take care of Cohen. I was busying my mind with calculating how many ounces he'd need to take a week and how many bottles we needed to try and give him and wasn't allowing thoughts of self deprecation to even take root.

Until I watched as the doctor scrawled, "Failure to Thrive" under Cohen's diagnosis.

Unfortunately, this is a diagnosis that I know all to well. Even though this is something we've been through before, the words still twisted my heart up in a knot. Perhaps even more so, because the constant in both situations is me. My breast milk and my ability to nourish.

To know that my breast feeding relationship with Cohen is likely coming to a close is both devastating and exhilarating. To wallow in self pity and blame myself isn't doing anyone any good though, especially not Cohen. The bottom line is that it's my job to help Cohen thrive. Whatever it takes. And so, that's just what I'll do.


  1. That's devastating! I know you can have milk tested for it's caloric properties, if you have stores of milk use them! I flat out told my dr I would not use formula, and to find another way. Is he on solids yet? That will help too. Mix some formula in with the milk? maybe? I've never used formula before so i'm talking out my ass with that one. Feed him lots and lots of avocados/ brown rice/ banana! I was in the same boat with my son he lost a pound, i knew why (I had the flu) but we worked on it and nursed a lot and now he is doing great!
    I guess I am just saying don't give up if you are not ready, if you are ready than no biggie! :) I hope you don't think I am a pest, i was in the exact same spot you were just a couple months ago.

  2. Oh Jen I'm so sorry you're going through this!

    It sounds like you're taking this well. I know you'll be doing everything you possibly can to get some more weight on him. Our pediatrician talked about testing my milk for calorie content so like Claire said, that's something they can do if you're interested.

    Keep me updated and if you want to talk about it let me know! As someone who has been in those shoes, I know it is scary and confusing. Praying for you guys!

  3. Hi Jen,

    PLEASE, PLEASE don't feel bad about feeding Cohen formula, I know 3 terribly smart children who were/are currently given formula and I ASSURE you that they are as healthy and happy as can be! The most important thing is that Cohen is getting the nutrition he needs to develop. I tried breast feeding w/each of the kids and I stopped each time for a different reason, but I let the guilt go because I know that I am meeting all of their developmental needs in every other aspect of their lives. I hope this helps you!

    We'll be thinking of you guys!
    Jesse and Sandy