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Monday, July 09, 2007

Mommy Talk

Today's Mommy Talk question:

Your biggest challenge of motherhood: how things were when baby was first born, how things changed as time went on and what type of challenges are you facing right now?

Besides the whole challenge of being a new mom and having a newborn in the house?! I had a couple challenges that stand out.

First, I think obviously, was dealing with Kayla's diagnosis. The harsh reality of not just leaving the hospital with your newborn and going merrily on your way; instead it was dealing with the reality that "oh my gosh my child has "something" we're going home from the hospital with a diagnosis."

Not only did I have to deal with how that felt for myself and worried about what that meant for our future, and her future, but also how to tell our family and friends and what would they think? Would they accept her? Support us?

About a week or so after Kayla was born I came across the Welcome to Holland poem/essay. I know most people either love it or hate it. For me I loved it. I didn't dissect it, I didn't read different meanings into it, I just read it for the simple statement it said to me.

By the time I finished reading it I was crying. What I took away from it was all summed up in the last sentence. Basically saying if you spend your life mourning you may never be free to enjoy the good and beautiful things.

That spoke to me. It made me realize that this diagnosis wasn't "all bad" - it was just something different, and different isn't bad. It was just something we were going to have to learn about and deal with. It made me start seeing my daughter as just that - my daughter - and not just her diagnosis.

The other challenge I dealt with was nursing and Kayla's weight gain - or lack thereof. I nursed her till she was a little over a year old, but I don't think in the beginning I ever felt comfortable, or competent enough. I just didn't know if she was actually nursing because of hunger, or because of comfort. I didn't know if she was really getting any nourishment - if I was producing milk. I pumped and would get a good amount doing that, but I didn't know if she was getting the same amount out. I had heard/read that babies with Down syndrome can have a hard time nursing because of low muscle tone, so I always worried about that - if she was getting enough, nursing long enough, if she was doing it right.

I just couldn't tell with Kayla. She didn't cry that often and she slept a lot. She hardly work up the first night we brought her home. At her 2 week check up she wasn't even back to her birth weight. Maj. S told me to wake her up every 3 hrs if she wasn't waking up on her own; I would do that, but as soon as she would start nursing she would fall asleep. I tried undressing her, rubbing a cool washcloth on her face - all to no avail. She would start nursing and fall back to sleep.

It was very frustrating...newborns are supposed to be hungry and eat every few hours around the clock, and she just didn't seem very interested.

The other problem was how to tell when she was done nursing. Everyone said "you'll just know" - she'll pull away or turn her head or whatever. Kayla rarely did this either. She would nurse until she fell asleep. So I tried putting her on a schedule - every 3 hrs and 15 min on each side. I don't know if that was the right thing to do or not, but I didn't know what else to do.

Maj S observed her nursing during one of her appointments and said everything seemed to be going fine, that Kayla seemed to be nursing correctly - had a good latch, was sucking and swallowing, but still I worried.

I worried because she was very slow to gain weight. We would go in for monthly weight checks and she was always so far down on the bottom of the chart.

I went in for her 5 month weight-check and the scale showed the exact same weight she was at her 4-month weight-check. I gasped and mentioned that to the tech. She weighed her again. Same weight. I think she saw the look of alarm on my face and the tears forming in my eyes because she went to get Maj S. I didn't have an appt - this was just a weight check, but Maj S took the time to come talk to me and calm my nerves. I felt horrible. I felt like an awful mom. How could my baby not gain one single ounce in a whole month? How was that even possible? What was I doing wrong?

Maj S reassured me that Kayla looked healthy and didn't appear like she needed hospitalization. She watched her in the car seat kicking her legs etc and asked me "is she always that active?" I said "yes" and she replied, "maybe she's burning off the calories faster than you can keep them in her!" She suggested to offer her an additional ounce or two of bre*st milk in a bottle after nursing to see if she was still hungry.

We tried that and sometimes she would take it, other times not. She was just bound to be a very small child! We didn't even turn around her car seat until she was almost 2 years old because that is when she finally reached 20 lbs. She's only 30 lbs now - 30! For a four-year old! So that was quite a challenge for me.

What I'm facing now? Kayla's still a very active child! She can't sit still; I think it's physically impossible for her to be still! Even sitting in a chair while eating her legs are constantly in motion. I seriously think she might have ADHD. She's just so easily distracted too.

What were some of your challenges?


PEA said...

I can well imagine how worried you were when Kayla wasn't gaining any weight but as your doctor had said, she was probably burning off all the calories because of being so active! Even today, she's just such an active child...she looks so healthy, I wouldn't worry about her weight at all:-) xox

Much More Than A Mom said...

My biggest challenge was not sleeping, and it still is!

Tracey said...

Biggest challenge with my first child? Loneliness. I was doing things fine. I had a fairly normal baby as far as sleep/eat/poop etc. but I just didn't know ANYone with children! Very isolated.

Ellen said...

My biggest challanges were lack of sleep, loneliness and then my sons diagnosis of anxiety when he was 4 years old. That continues to be my biggest challenge

ChupieandJ'smama said...

I didn't get to Mommy Talk today. I'm too tired from the b-day hoopla, but br*ast feeding was one of my biggest challenges too. My milk never came in, and both my boys were terrible latchers. I made it 9 weeks with the 1st and 7 weeks with the second and it just never took. It was sooo hard in the beginning. Maybe I can do this tomorrow, a day late.

Beck said...

Two of my munchkins had agonizingly slow weight gains as babies - and the other one gained FOUR POUNDS by the end of his first month. FOUR POUNDS!

Mindy said...

Your post described in perfect detail how I felt when someone first told me "You better have kids soon.. the older you get, the more likely they will be born -different-" At first I was horrified at the thought but I was lucky enough to stumble on to the mommy blogs of a few special children. Through the pictures of those babies, Kayla and so many others, I came to realize that having a special child wouldn't be so bad. In fact, having a special child might actually be.. special and a wonderful thing. Its no longer something I fear and in fact I am more open to it now than ever before. I can't wait to meet my baby when the time comes and thanks to you and Kayla - I'm not scared. :)

chelle said...

My biggest challenge with our first was not worrying too much. She was premature and I was constantly concerned for her well being. With the second, psshhhaaa He's Fine is my mantra!

Karen said...

I really enjoy Mommy Talk, and this was awesome Michelle. I don't think you realise what an encouragement you are for others, and you have made me so much more aware and interested too! Kayla is lovely. I am really taken with her. My son was supremely active and not easy to deal with from age 15months to 5 years, yes a long time. I got judged over him, rejected by 'friends' from Coffee group and other stuff and he did not fit into main stream School last year - oh it was utterly heartbreaking; feeling my child was 'different'. But he is improving so much, calming down, he is extremely bright and catching up socially too now. The Christian School he goes to has been the most amazing place, wonderful, that is why the statements he makes about God blow me away - oh if you knew where we had come from...ahhh, I didn't plan to share all that, but it was good. I have such a heart for 'differences' in children be it behavioural, health, whatever - when you have walked a path and been helped yourself you want to give back and help out. Love you.

Conny said...

Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts - been there too. Sounds all pretty familiar ... just a year earlier ;-) We sent out "Welcome to Holland" with our birth announcement cards - together with "The special mother"??? from Erma Bombeck.

And don't worry about the ADHD ... then my Kids have it, too!

Christi said...

I remember all those same challenges with Veronica. She is 4 and a couple months and holding steady at 25 pounds. Sometimes I worry that she is still too small and not growing enough.

I am still thankful to this day that she is my second child.


~Melissa~ said...

I remember going through this with Delphine too, Michelle. It's so hard isn't it?

Jeff and Michelle said...

I love the Welcome to Holland message too. I am so glad it comforted you. My daughter was 30 lbs at age 3, and at age 4 she was still 30 lbs! She is almost 6 now, and finally hit the 40lb mark. I don't worry about it. There are lots of ways you can work on attention and focus with Kayla, also you can ask an OT to help you with those areas. I do this a lot with the kids with special needs I work with. Your outlook is so healthy and inspiring. Your daughter is a blessing, and will always fill your days with lots of joy, I am sure!!!

Killlashandra said...

I understand some of your challenges. When W.W. was born they took him to the nursey and then the next thing I know he's in the NICU because he's not breathing right. After 10 days in the NICU I take him home with an oxygen tank. It took two months on oxygen until we could wean him off and his breathing stabilized. Now who'd have guessed, but the beginning was very challenging.

Children are a blessing and their individuality makes them so special no matter what.

Once Upon a Dream... said...

Your post is very encouraging, Michelle. Kayla is truly blessed to have wonderful parents that love her and think the world of her. You and Joe are blessing to other families that are blessed as you are.

I can relate to you, even though Olyvia is not "different". I worried about her gaining too much weight. I worried that she wasn't as advanced as other kids her age, etc. I'm a worrier, that's my challenge.

I read the story. That last line is so true.

Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

I worried to for the first year and a half about weight gain. Aviva was a preemie and spent 5 weeks in the NICU. At a year she was 15 lbs and a bit. She would not eat baby food or table top food..even now very picky. But at 1 1/2 she started Pediasure and it worked wonders.


S. said...

I broke down at the scale in the ped's office too! It seems like you did a great job, and no matter what the scale says she looks healthy and happy! I think L. is right around 30 lbs. too.

Amy said...

Joe was really big for a T21 baby and an AVSD heart repair baby. On one of my visits to the ped. office when Joe was about 8 months old I had a complete fit by the scale too. One of the docs--not our regular one, the one I "fired" from our life--said to me that Joe was at risk for being overweight because "these kids tend to be obese." He suggested that I keep Joe away from fruits and any other high-sugar foods and carbs (AT EIGHT MONTHS!). After I told him I would not put my child on the South Beach Diet, I said, "and by the way, I don't know who "these" kids are but my son's name is Joe and he seems healthy to me." And as I left I noticed that he wrote a little note on Joe's chart that I suppose said "problem mother" and I am sure cracked up our regular pediatrician.

Kayla looks like she is the perfect weight. I am glad to hear that she has so much energy, too.

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

Sleeping was my big thing. No sleep equals a very unhappy new mommy, who really didn't have a clue to start out with. Adding no sleep to the pot made it downright ugly! And loneliness, like some others mentioned. No close family, no true friends (the sob on your shoulder kind!). We survived, and did it again and now again!

Eve is 30 pounds right now too. I actually just weighed her yesterday at Daniel's office since we don't own a scale. She was never on "the curve" she just made her own. The doctors have always said she is healthy, just petite. Judah and Eve are like 6 pounds apart right now! I keep telling her to be nice to him because she won't be bigger for much longer!! :)


Mama P said...

Found you through Life with Cheryl (I think.) Nice blog! My biggest challenge as a new mother was that although I loved my son more than anything in the world - literally, my heart could've broken with joy from him - I never wanted to be a stay at home mother and stay at home wife. I wanted to write TV. I wanted to work. I wanted that balance. And while we had a lovely home and car, we didn't have the extra "balance" in the bank account to provide me the extras I craved to still go into the world and be me. The babysitter. The occasional cleaning lady. Of course I KNEW these were small challenges compared to so many, but as a person who worked her butt off her whole life to write sitcoms (and succeeded) it was a hard pill to swallow to be thrust into hard core reality with no perks. Of course now, I'm grateful I was home. Bla bla bla. Okay, that was my challenge. And it all worked out. (though i'm still saving for therapy for the kids JUST to be sure)

Linda said...

Michelle, I think you have done a magnificent job with Kayla. She is loved and loving - a precious little daughter.

Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

OK. As a teacher of learning disabilities and a behavorist, don't worry about ADHA for a long while! As to the weight thing, my 37-year-old daughter has NEVER grown into her weight! She still looks 18! She is tiny. She was 2 lb at birth, and she just stayed small. That's ok...she's a mom and a nurse, and she's doing just fine. I remember once I called the doctor to complain because my second daughter was just eating and sleeping! His answer..."Be thankful!" My second oldest grandson had failure to thrive, and he's now a Marine. With Kayla, love her, feed her nourishing food when she's hungry, and let her run around until she drops. You'll all be fine...and so will the new baby!

smileymamaT said...

Our biggest challenge was financial, as we were basically a couple of college kids who married early, and I remember always being worried about rent...but we made it! Also nursing was a challenge as it was painful to the point of bleeding for me the first 3 weeks, so I pumped a bit, and applied vitamin E, and kept at it, because I didn't want ther to lose the ability to nurse..then I healed and we were fine. She slept through the night at 5 weeks!

Once Upon a Dream... said...

You've been tagged!!!

Sara said...

That is Nathaniel too, never sits still! Unless he is really sick. We have him on an attention med right now ( more for school than home )