Mrs. Fun Bags
by Karla ° Friday, May 4, 2007
I need to come forward with some candid honesty about my concern for teensy tiny Nate. First and foremost, I know deep down that he is doing just fine, but after going through the horror of taking Ava off of life support and watching her die, the definition of what constitutes fine leaves me with a lot to come to terms with because even after the scare we had with her heart, Ava was supposed to be just fine. So now, fine doesn’t cut it and when things are supposed to be fine, I still question just how fine they are, which leads to a lot of guilt, which eats away at my self confidence.

Nate is exclusively breastfed. Even when he was in the NICU, I did not allow them to supplement him with formula and hooked my nipples up to a pump every three hours and brought whatever I could squeeze out of them to the nurses to feed him via the feeding tube in his stomach. And when he was allowed out of his incubator, I still got up every three hours to try and breastfeed him, and while I was trying to teach Nate how to latch on properly, I continued to hook my nipples up to a pump to keep working on getting my milk to come in. That meant my days were divided into three hour windows, half of that time was spent trying to feed him and get my milk supply established, and the other half was spent trying to sleep and not rip off my head because I had a postdural headache and spinal fluid was leaking into my brain and I could barely focus my eyes and stand on my own two feet without vomiting. And somewhere in there we opened Christmas presents.

If there is one thing about me that I know for certain it is that I am a tenacious motherfucker and when I want something bad enough, you could rip my toenails off with pliers and shoot out both of my knee caps, and I would still find a means to soldier on. And since my mind was set on breastfeeding, I was going to breastfeed dammit! Brain full of spinal fluid and toenails firmly intact or not.

It's not that I have anything against formula, because geez, it’s nourishment for babies and you can’t argue with that, it’s more like I am stubborn as a mule on speed and have had my heart set on breastfeeding since before my first child was conceived. And right now, I am having a lot of self doubt that I am 100% successful with it. Stupid things run through my head like “Oh shit, I didn’t eat my banana today – there goes meeting my fruit quota. Nate will for sure have trouble learning his multiplication tables now.” And, please no bitch slapping, but I am now thinner than before I got pregnant with Ava, Bubs or Nate and part of me wonders whose side my body is on – the making milk for Nate side, or wearing ass-fabulous jeans side. Even upping my food intake and stuffing my face with truck loads of pizza isn’t helping. Maybe I have a tapeworm.

So although Nate is showing all the signs of being a totally normal little boy and all appears to be just fine, I am a narcissistic whore and it’s really all about me. Walking the fine line between what I believe is right for our family and what is actually right is a very gray landscape. I want to feel like I am winning and like I am doing a bang up job at this whole having kids thing because carrying the weight of infant death and miscarriage on my shoulders is a real mind fuck when it comes to having self confidence and believing in my body and nature and the nutritional value of my boobs. And if their nursing days are done, I’m sure Mark would love to be reintroduced to Mrs. Fun Bags.

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Karla, if I could hug you right now, I would. You're doing a DAMN fine job and DON'T YOU FORGET IT!
Posted by Blogger Heather :  May 04, 2007

(((Karla))) You probably can't gain weight because breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. I think that's why I was decent looking while nursing Alison, and I got fat when she weaned because I got used to large portions. Do they have La Leche League in Canada? I went to a few meetings and it was very helpful putting my mind at ease about things. Whatever you decide, you'll have lots of support on it.
Posted by Blogger Julia :  May 04, 2007

It is hard being a momma! So many doubts, so many things to worry about. Whatever you decide is right for your family is right for your family!

I bet if Nate could talk he would say you are the best mom in the world! God gave Nate to you becasue he new exactly what Nate needed and that ws YOU and Mark. You are doing the best you can and don't forget that.
Posted by Blogger Donna :  May 04, 2007


I can only imagine how "fine" just wouldn't/couldn't be "fine" with you. If that makes any sense at all. You are amazing! Please believe that. Nate looks so happy & so healthy! Trust in that! You are doing an excellent job! You ARE a fantastic mom!!! I think of you and your family often! Lots of love & hugs from Ohio!
Posted by Anonymous Beth :  May 04, 2007

you crack me the hell up. dude, when i breastfed i gained weight and had month long periods...dammit so see none of us are the same at all. i breastfed brandon exclusively till he was 15 months. about that time i noticed that he was seeming extra hungry so i started supplimenting with normal cows milk mixed with pediasure (because it taste wayyyyy better then formula and the kids suck that shit down) anyhoo, he was small an skinny and whatever during the time i breastfed, but now (not to toot his horn) he is a genius. as soon as i started giving him the pediasure he gained 3 pounds in a month. soooo, naterbug is just gonna be small for a bit. also my dr told me that the growth charts drs use are based on formula fed babies and that he wished there was one to base breastmilk kids on so they didnt look so puney on the growth chart (brandon has been stuck at 3% for weight since like um forever). also, nate is soooo active and happy and smiley and great that you can obviously see just by looking at him that he is totally kicking fines ass, nate is awesome, super duper, grand, terrific and perfect. don't worry, as soon as he starts eating solids you can do like my dr had me do, give him spoon fulls of cream cheese to lick on like popcicles and toast drenched in butter and also the baby yogurt....brandon will now steal the tub of cream cheese from my fridge and eat it with his fingers...but the dr said hey whatever makes em get fat quote my dr. once a low weight baby starts eating solids then anything bad for a woman on a diet is great for a baby trying to gain weight!


I wish there was something I could say to set your mind at ease but I know this is the path you must travel. So all I can offer you is a cyberhug and my compliments on the job I think you're doing mothering Nate. I do think you're doing a great job. Do you obsess a little? Do you worry way too much? Sure you do...but that's what Moms do, especially Moms who've traveled the very steep, rocky road to motherhood that many don't.

Hang in there, Mark and especially Nate are gonna be AOK :)
Posted by Blogger Poppy :  May 04, 2007

I've been reading your blog since Nate was born, but have never commented. Please don't think your breastmilk is to blame for his size. I have a 4 month old formula fed son. Between two months and four months he went from the 50th percentile to the 25th percentile. He eats a lot, but some babies are just smaller than others. My first child, a girl was also very small (like less than 10th percentile). She's still pretty petite, but she's an extremely happy, smart and healthy 2.5 year old. I'm sure Nate will be "just fine" too.
Posted by Anonymous Dorie :  May 04, 2007

I don't think I've ever posted before, but I had to agree with the other commenters who said breastfed babies are sometimes just thinner than others. At least that's what happened with my now 6 y.o. daughter. She was exclusively breastfed for 14 months and I think I spent at least 5 of them freaking out that she was so thin. She was 15th-25th percentile or something -- so not too thin. But compared to my older son, so much thinner.

I was convinced my breasts weren't doing their job. But she did keep steadily growing and her doctor wasn't concerned at all. Then she started eating solids around 6 months and I worried slightly less. And gradually stopped worrying altogether. Like I said, she's now 6 and our skinny minny. She eats what she needs and not a bite more. Is pretty consistenly in the 50th percentile for weight now. Just the way she's built, can't mess with nature.

So. No idea if that helped or not, but that's my story. Hang in there -- you're doing a great job!
Posted by Anonymous iheartnewyork :  May 04, 2007

I for one think your breasts are doing just great!

Because of my undiagnosed thyroid condition, I was unable to breastfeed Mr. P, and I felt like the biggest loser and horrible mother, and so I think we all go through something similar where we think we are not doing an adequate job of feeding our newborns.

Because it is SO much responsibility, and how can you not take it personally? I understand, and time will help you to heal in that regard
Posted by Blogger Gina :  May 04, 2007

I understand the breastfeeding thing completely. With both my babies, I tried to breastfeed for a week. My milk NEVER came in. On both occasions I felt like I'd failed my children. I cried, I wailed, I did everything I was supposed to do. My boobs just don't work for their intended purpose. Oh well. My babies ended up formula fed, I introduced solids at 3 months. They now, at 32 months and 18 months eat like small horses, literally run circles around me, and are still 25th percentile for weight. They are just skinny butts. Wait till you have to find pants that are long enough for his legs but don't fall off his ass!
The short version: You have not failed as a mom. For all appearances he seems to be a very healthy, happy, loved little boy. Look at milestones other than his weight, and as long as he's ON THE CHART (what my doc said about mine) he's OK. *hugs*
Posted by Anonymous Moira :  May 04, 2007

When my now 21-month-old-still-breastfeeding son was younger, he was a little cherub but was never over the 50% percentile for some reason. Then at his 18-months checkup, he was actually on the -1% percentile or something like that even though I was still breastfeeding! He's a skinny little boy, just like my brother was! Don't worry as long as Nate is eating regularly. You will worry more when he becomes a toddler picky-eater! =P
Posted by Anonymous Keri :  May 04, 2007

I can't remember if I ever commented before either, but I have been reading your blog for a while now. I just had baby #3 and I wanted to put in print that motherhood is an f-ing mindtrip wouldn't you agree?! Even after #3 I constantly worry about EVERYTHING, and anything. And I mean everything...I can't imagine having been what you have been through without being how you feel right now. It's normal, what you are feeling is normal and what Nate seems to be going through seems normal as well. You are doing SUCH a great job! I was borderline neurotic with my joke.

Posted by Blogger Kris :  May 04, 2007

just wanted to give you a hug:
everyones advice and comments are right on.
please find a LLL meeting to go to...thay can and will help you even if its helping you heart....
Posted by Anonymous uumomma :  May 04, 2007

I sure haven't had much time to read or post comments these days, but I always think of you and send you hugs whenever I do.

I must take time to comment on this topic and also encourage you to find a La Leche League near you. They were the biggest help to me whenever I had doubts, fears and questions about breastfeeding.
Posted by Blogger Cuppa :  May 04, 2007

This post was so real and honest and I appreciate your letting us into your life and thoughts, Karla. To echo what everyone else has said, you are doing a wonderful job of caring for Nate, and that's final. :)
Posted by Anonymous Amanda :  May 04, 2007

My son is almost 8 months old and the response I often get when i tell people that is "really? he's so small"
Every time it happens I get a pang of "I'm doing something wrong!" but my mother in law keeps reminding me that the charts (I think someone mentioned this in a previous post) are based on formula-fed babies who are heavier on average, and I keep reminding myself that my husband comes from a skinny skinny family, so maybe Kiernan is just a skinny lanky guy.
Kiernan has also been really active since the beginning so we figure he's just burning a lot of calories.
So don't worry, Nate is great, or at least remind yourself that it's normal to worry and doubt yourself, we all do it. And there are breastfeeding support groups here in Ottawa so I would imagine there are some in Toronto.
And lastly, I think it's important not to beat yourself up if you do end up using formula. I have quite a few friends who were determined to breastfeed, but in the end, their need for sanity won out and they did half and half.
As fabulous as this motherhood thing is, there sure are some tough moments, aren't there? Hang in there!
Posted by Blogger Lara :  May 05, 2007

Hi Karla,
You should get a medal for all that you have gone through and put up with, what a woman! So strong! I just really wanted you to know that you are doing such an amazing job by standing up for what you believe as far as breastfeeding goes, way to go you for pumping for Nate while he was in the NICU, and not letting the nurses give him anything else, while you had a postdural headache.
I don't know who said it in the comments, but I totally agree that you should try out La Leche League meetings. I LOVE them, I fine when I am needing some reasurrance, they are the perfect remedy! You caan go online to their site and find a leader near you. I completely recommend it. Let me know how it goes. :) Nate is doing great, I can tell.
Posted by Blogger Kaili :  May 05, 2007

I breastfed my first baby for 4 months and supplemented with bottles during those 4 months.The second baby I breastfed for 8 months and did it almost exclusively for the first five months. Both babies were the same size all throughout the first year despite the differences in their feedings.
I had a friend who bottlefed her fraternal twins and one was always about 5 pounds smaller than the other even though she was a little larger at birth and they were being fed the same thing at the same time as one another everyday.
I think like adults some babies are small and some babies are big.
If you want to keep breastfeeding there is some really good help locally. The Newman breastfeeding clinic is across the road from NYGH in North York - and they helped me quickly when I needed help with feeding #2. They are on the internet.
You should do what you and your wee boy need to do and only you will really know that. But I would bet you are doing everything perfectly judging by how perfect Nate looks.
Posted by Anonymous carson :  May 05, 2007

You are burning lots of calories nursing. A friend went to weight watchers while nursing and they increased her point range- by alot! Dr. Jack Newman in Toronto has a clinic and a website - all about nursing, how well babies do, how little supplementing they need, how they thrive on breastmilk. Visit the site for lots of affirmation cause you are doing a wonderful, wonderful thing. I've experienced some losses myself, so I know it can be hard to trust "normal" or whatever once you've lived on the other side of that. Keep reaching out for encouragement; you are doing a great job!
Posted by Blogger Karen :  May 05, 2007

Babies and men are not excluded from the ups and downs of the scale, they are just blessed with the "complete oblivion" gene. I won't say not to worry because you are his mom and you know. I will say don't make yourself a wreck over it all because, and I hate doing this cause it annoyed the ever loving hell out of me, but this mom thing, there is SO much on the path ahead that will have you worrying, you'll go to an early grave if you don't let some stuff roll off of you. Even if Nate were to stop breastfeeding, you can still sneak the stuff into anything. We had a vicious bug go through our house and you can bet your sweet yoga pant wearing ass I slipped that sweet mama nectar into everybody's oatmeal! Keep on keepin' on and if you get to a point that you feel like you have to break stride and change course, do it. The nourishment you have already given him has imprinted you on his heart, soul, spirit and body. You've done it all perfectly, sweet mama.
Posted by Blogger Amanda :  May 06, 2007

Hey Karla, I can totally feel you. When Maxie was born prematurely and was in the NICU for those weeks, I had to do the same thing - the mind-numbing pumping every 2-3 hours bit (not to mention commuting 3-4 hours a day to the big university hospital). I was delirious, and not in a good way. I spent upwards of 10-14 hours a day at the hospital with him trying to teach him how to nurse, to kangaroo him, and just to watch him sleep under a blanket of all those horrifying tubes, machines, and lights. It was one of the hardest seasons of my life. The vulnerability and fragility of life hit me like a ton of bricks. I am so glad that we've passed through that mountain. A friend of mine years ago said that I was going to go THROUGH the mountains, and not OVER them. Very interesting... Kind of empowering, too. I think you're also forging through your mountains. Anywho, I think you're doing a fantastic job with Nate. God bless you for being able to nurse exclusively. I wish I could.


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