April Moments

Maybe, just maybe, telling the story is just as important as the story itself

A gold star and the letter ‘F’

You remember how in the “The kindergarten ship has sailed” blog, I mentioned that I like to ponder my thoughts in my heart before I write about them?

Here is a perfect example of why.

Written on Monday, March 11

Ever since becoming a second-time mama, as opposed to being the overwhelmed, first-time mama I was in 2007, I have felt surprisingly confident in many of my parenting decisions.

Certainly not all of them. But the combination of the been-there-done-that mentality with the fact that I had almost five years to mature between babies has helped me do less second guessing and more shoulder brushing.

  • You wonder how I know if my breastfed baby is getting enough milk because I can’t see how many ounces she is drinking? Don’t worry. She pees and poops a lot. She’s growing well and hitting all the developmental milestones within the normal range. (Remember this example.)
  • You furrow your brow when I tell you I’ve rarely bought her baby food in the store? It’s OK, really. Before Gerber had a monopoly on the baby food market, people offered their babies the same real food they were eating at their dinner table.
  • You think it’s weird I put my baby to bed at 6 p.m.? Oh well. She’s tired. And letting her sleep when she’s tired is better than having her be a miserable, eye-rubbing mess for the entire evening.

I’m not saying the past 10 months since Cecilia’s birth have been easy. My life with a very active 5-year-old and an infant (an easygoing infant, at that) is hard work. It’s just that, this time around, I feel less worried about what people think and more able to voice my reasons for why we do things the way we do… if people are willing to listen. If they’re not, that’s fine too.

Written on Wednesday, March 13

You may be wondering – what happened to Tuesday, March 12?

A little back story first. Cecilia started going to day care when she was 2 months old, so, for a little more than eight months, I have been sending my expressed breast milk in two bottles. In the beginning my pumping output was high because she was exclusively breastfed, and I had an abundant milk supply. I’ve always pumped at the times when I would be nursing her if we were together.

Since the introduction of solid foods at 6 months of age, Cecilia has gradually decreased her breast milk intake. Therefore, my pumping output has steadily gone down as well. I never saw this as a problem. I mentioned it to the ladies in the baby room a few weeks ago, and one of them responded, “She’s almost a year; no need to do extra pumping now!”

Cecilia actually loves to eat solids. She gobbles up chicken, turkey and lean ground beef as well as an assortment of fruits and vegetables and occasionally whole grains like oatmeal or wheat toast.

Last Friday was very busy for me at work, and I had time for only one pumping session during the day, instead of my normal two. I admit, I probably should’ve pumped at some point over the weekend to make sure Cecilia had enough breast milk on Monday. But I forgot and didn’t realize until 7 a.m. Monday morning that she was going to have only bottle for the day.

“It’s only one day,” I thought to myself. “She’ll be fine.” I dropped her off and let the teacher know what happened – about the busy work day Friday and the one bottle. She didn’t seem concerned.

On Tuesday when I asked the day care workers if Cecilia did OK with just one bottle Monday, they shook their heads and said, “Not really.” Before I could reply, the director chimed in with, “No. One bottle is definitely not enough. Why did you send only one yesterday?”

I re-explained what happened, and she told me that providing one bottle does not meet the guidelines for how many ounces Cecilia should receive during the day.

I was incredulous. And completely in the dark. “What guidelines?” I inquired.

The director searched through some papers and informed me that they should be offering C.C. six to eight ounces at breakfast and lunch, then two to four ounces at snack.

Again, stunned. My mind started racing. Might as well come clean, I thought. So I admitted it: “I’ve never pumped that much. There has never been that much milk in her bottles. And I’m not going to add pumping sessions to my day this late in the game.”

She asked if I could supplement with formula or soy milk.

Supplement now? When she’s 10 months? When I’m so close to getting my American Academy of Pediatrics gold star for providing breast milk for the first year of life?

The director also threw in that she thinks Cecilia might not be feeling full enough at day care. She downs her three- or four-ounce bottles much more quickly than the other babies finish their six- or eight-ounce bottles and seems like she wants more, she said. Maybe Cecilia would take longer naps if her belly was fuller, she added. This was the first I had heard of any of these issues.

I left there an emotional wreck. WHAT HAVE I DONE? I’VE BEEN STARVING HER FOR EIGHT MONTHS.

Thankfully, my husband’s daily, after-school phone call timing was impeccable Tuesday. I held back angry, hurt tears as I told him what happened. “She is petite,” I said. “Maybe this is why she’s so small. Elliot was never as small as Cecilia.”

He asked me to stop blaming myself. (A novel idea, right?!) “April, Cecilia is healthy. Yes, she is petite, but the pediatrician has never expressed any concerns about her size. Don’t beat yourself up about this.”

Then, I said what felt like the unthinkable. “I think I’m going to have to go to Kroger and buy formula tonight.”

Ever the voice of calm reason, Mike responded, “That is probably a good idea. It’s worth a try, especially if it might help Cecilia take longer naps. I know your work days are busy and that you don’t have any more time to pump.”

Despite knowing deep down that providing one bottle of formula a day for the next six weeks is not going to do any harm, I imagined myself being forced to wear a red letter “F” for FAILURE.

So much for feeling confident and not worrying about what people think!

As my dear friend Betsy pointed out, God always has a way of keeping us humble. Yes, he does.

Written today, March 14

Eating that large slice of humble pie reminded me that humility doesn’t come without faith. So I dusted off my “shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16) and put it back on. “F” can stand for all the wrongs things if I let it.

Today, “F” is for FAITHFUL.
Originally published on ovparent.com.

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