Baby D was born hungry. Maybe because he’d stretched his stomach swallowing amniotic fluid. Maybe it’s that he was overdue and over nine pounds. Maybe it was just genetic, courtesy of parents who love food.
That kid could eat. I’d nurse Baby D for almost an hour in the hospital, and send him back to the nursery to get a little sleep. Within an hour, a nurse would bring him back, saying, “He’s hungry!”
Me, wailing: “But I just fed him!”
Luckily, the hospital had plenty of little formula bottles we could use to as supplements. Andy took a whole bunch with us when we were discharged.
They lasted a day.
On the advice of Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister, I would nurse Baby D and then pump while Andy gave him a bottle, in order to a) make sure I was empty, and b) increase my milk supply.
Once Baby D figured out he could get more milk faster from a bottle, he refused to nurse, wailing until we gave in and gave him a bottle. Between raw nipples, my baby’s rejection, and feeling like an unwanted cow, I was a wreck.
“Maybe I should just give up breast feeding,” I sobbed to Dr. Sister on the phone.
Despite not being able to produce enough milk for her own ginormous daughter, Dr. Sis had strong opinions of breast feeding. And she’s definitely not a coddler. She hissed, “If you don’t breast feed, I will fucking kill you.”
“Okay,” I sniffled. The next 24 hours were miserable. Baby D kept demanding the bottle. I kept pumping and crying.
Then Baby D slept for 6 hours. When he woke up, still convinced he was starving, his Mommy Cow’s milk reservoir had built up enough that both supply and speed of discharge were acceptable. Baby D still insisted on a supplemental bottle after some feedings, but within a week of being born, he was sleeping through at least one nighttime feeding. Since I was not, I would get up and pump some supplemental milk in order to cut down on formula.
I thought we were now in a good place.
My pediatrician thought differently. Most babies lose weight after they are born. It’s expected. It takes a while for the mother’s milk to come in, and it takes a while for babies to get the hang of nursing.
Our pediatrician was older, a tiny little Persian dude with a wealth of experience. The only time I ever saw him shocked was when he weighed and measured my child a week after delivery.
“Your baby has gained 8 ounces! You are overfeeding him!” Dr. Y declared.
“But—but he’s also gained an inch in size!” I argued.
Dr. Y dismissed this with a wave of his hand, saying, “The initial measurements are always a little off. Babies curl up and can be hard to measure. Are you giving him a bottle?”
“After I nurse him, yes. But only when he cries! And he ONLY cries when he is hungry.”
“How much in in his bottle?”
“I don’t know. I feed him until he stops eating.” At this point, I was ready to cry myself, convinced of my maternal failures.
“At this age, he should only be eating one ounce!” Dr. Y insisted.
I mumbled some vague sort of agreement, hovering between tears and indignation. I knew I was right, but I needed more data points to prove it. When we got home, I sent Andy off to call his mother and ask about her nursing experience. Since I didn’t have a mom to call and I wasn’t up to being bitched out by a doctor again, I called Big Brother’s Wife instead of Dr. Sis.
Big Brother’s Wife is very organized. Not surprisingly, she kept excellent records of her two oldest children. She reported that Second Niece and Nephew had, like Baby D, gained inches and ounces during their first weeks.
Andy’s mother reported that Andy had been so hangry and awful to breastfeed that she’d had to switch to a bottle.
Instead of nursing Baby D that evening, I pumped and measured my milk production: not quite 2 ounces. Andy fed Baby D a bottle and reported that our child sucked down over 4 ounces before falling asleep.
“There’s no way our kid should be limited to just one ounce,” I huffed to Andy. “Clearly our tiny little Persian pediatrician has no experience with the giant Germanic-Chinese baby that’s born growth spurting!”
Baby D, already on the the high end of the baby height and weight charts, literally went off the charts for the next six months.
I was fully prepared to smack down Dr. Y if he came at me again over Baby D’s bottle. So of course he never did.
Maybe because his own measurements showed Baby D gaining height along with weight.
Maybe he finally realized Baby D’s parents were looming over him by a foot and he took genetics into account.
Or maybe it was because recognized the battle-ready glint in my eye.
Overfeeding, my ass.