Sunday, 28 March 2010

A weighty issue.

For some reason weight is seen as an indicator of health in babies.  A baby who gains the expected weight or more is seen as healthy.  A baby who doesn't gain the expected weight is seen as unhealthy.

Maya was always in the latter category.  She was 4kgs at birth (90th percentile on the charts) but from there she never gained much weight and during some months didn't appear to gain any weight at all.  She fell through the percentiles until she was below the 3rd and off the charts.

I was very lucky to have some supportive experts who despite the 'worrying' (to most) drop in weight gain, saw Maya as a healthy, happy baby, who was meeting all milestones.  But some worried about her lack of weight gain and I worried too.  I watched babies the same age as Maya expand and grow, while Maya slimmed down.  I constantly worried that she wasn't getting enough milk.  But my determination to breast feed and knowledge that breast is best kept me going.  I tried to trust that everything was working well, while at the same time worried that everything was not OK.

Eventually I took Maya to a paediatrician when she was five months old and the doctor was surprised that I was still breast feeding Maya.  Her advice was for me to put Maya on formula, which I said I wasn't prepared to do.  So she wanted me to give her formula top ups with added glucose.  At first I couldn't bring myself to give Maya formula but when she reached 6 months of age and I had succeeded in giving her breast milk only for the first 6 months of her life, I gave in and started Maya on these top up feeds.  She did put on more fat but she did not grow in any other way.  I realised that all the formula and glucose were doing was making Maya fat, so I stopped and the fat fell off.  In hindsight I now realise this advice from an 'expert' was ridiculous and would do nothing but add fat to Maya and not make her grow any more.  But for some reason experts see weight as such a huge indicator of health that any weight gain, by any means, is seen as the answer.

Why is weight gain seen as such a big indicator of health? There are more signs to health than weight gain alone.  Is the baby happy?  Is the baby meeting milestones?  Is the baby growing (height, width OR weight)?  Does the baby have ill health?

I saw a second paediatrician who ran a lot of tests on Maya and everything came back normal.   She was and is a perfectly healthy girl.

I now see Maya for what she is.  A small, healthy, happy girl who does not need fattening up.  She eats plenty of food.  She just doesn't achieve the expected weight gains.

I am so happy that I am on the other side now and I no longer see Maya's weight as an issue.  What worries me though is all the mother's who will go through what I went through, some of whom will give up breast feeding or try to combine breast and formula feeding or feed their baby bulking agents, when their baby is perfectly healthy just smaller than the norm.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Ten weeks of work.

I have been back at work now for ten weeks, which I am proud of.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to manage work with my illness but thankfully I haven't had any vertigo attacks since the end of December last year.  I still worry about having an attack and it's often on my mind that one could happen at any moment.  But being back at work has given me some confidence again - managing an hour long, two way, two train travel plus two full work days with no attacks - I am relieved. 

It has been tough at times managing the work load around minding Maya and doing housework.  I have to bring work home with me and it's hard fitting it in during Maya's one nap of the day, which can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours (usually 1 1/2 to 2 hours and sometimes 3 if I am very lucky).

Overall I am happy to be back at work.  However, I would rather be working only one day and have Maya in care two days a week, so that I could get everything I needed to get done for work in those two days.

Maya is happier at child care now.  She has her favourite carers, she eats well and interacts with the other children.  However, there is still a problem.  She rarely sleeps there and if she does it's usually only 15 to 20 minutes.  Compared with her usual 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps at home, that's a very big difference and by the end of the child care days Maya is a tired, unhappy mess.

For most of these past ten weeks Maya hasn't been happy at child care, which has at times left me feeling guilty for returning to work and leaving her.  Unfortunately sometimes what is best for me won't necessarily be best for her, and right now being back at work is important to me.