Hello, Memaw!

Lucy comes from a long line of excellent burpers, myself included. This is not one of my finer strengths, but I try to keep an unsavory moments contained to the privacy of my home. My paternal grandmother was not so shy as she progressed in age. Once she passed on to the other side, so to speak, Henry and I started saying “Hello, Memaw!” each time I had an exceptionally loud burp.

So right off the bat, you could sit Lucy up and, before you even touched her back, there was Memaw loud and clear. Yesterday afternoon, we were home from the doctor’s office and it seemed like an apparition of Memaw might appear right in front of us. She was in terrible pain, but burping non-stop. They were so loud that I could not help but laugh at her even though she was screaming, eating and burping in a frenzy.

The pharmacist saw her prescription and suggested that I pump her knees into her stomach to help release the gas. He told me that he would use this exercise on his own son and that he knew about it from the Bernie Mac show. I had actually already tried this move the night before as part of her baby massage. But this time, she had this startled look, threw her arms back, and lost it. This little girl was in some serious pain.

Lucy has GERD (reflux). Actually the lactation consultant pointed out that all babies have reflux, but she may have reflux disease. She definitely has a dis-ease. I have known for some time that her feeding is off. That is the only way that I could put it. So this weekend, when she flat out refused my breast, I knew something was up. I pulled out The Nursing Mother’s Companion, my very favorite breastfeeding book, and discovered what was going on. It listed the symptoms and it sounded like what I had been progressively battling over the last five weeks (yes! five weeks!). She was congested, labored breathing and choking when feeding, eating all of the time, and the tell-tale sign of arching her back. Aha! Why hadn’t I read this section before.

Lucy is a pretty calm and content baby. So if I hadn’t listened to what Oprah calls that little voice, we probably would not have figured out what was wrong until a few days after she started screaming hysterically around anything related to food. Even at the doctor’s office, I thought that she was content on the table. The doctor pointed out that she was arching her back and trying to get on her side. She also noted that she had a small little throat clearing that she was doing. Wow! Who knew? Lucy really didn’t completely lose it until after I had the prescription in hand. Lucky for me. Although it has been a hard 24 hours, because it takes a while for the baby Zantac to work. Tonight was the first time she just laid flat on her back while I changed her diaper. So I guess that it is finally starting to work.

The sad news for me, is that at this point, I am giving up dairy. I have craved dairy products like nobody’s business. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t that hungry. But all of that changed around 9:15 am after my water broke. I have been starving ever since. Plus I have spent many days thinking about the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Potbelly’s. I have never really craved chocolate ever in my life. Until yesterday, I would drink one to two Carnation Instant Breakfasts a day, in addition to cereal, yogurt, Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, fresh mozzarella cheese. The list goes on. Oh great cow, how I love you. I am sort of at a loss for what to eat. But I recalled a delicious vegan cupcake from Sticky Fingers Bakery in Dupont Circle. Good thing it is not down the street. I am pretty certain that just because it is vegan, it is NOT low fat.

We have also started feeding Lucy a hypoallergenic formula to see if that will work. It smells exactly like some kind of food that Memaw used to make. I think mashed potatoes, but I am not sure. I love my Memaw, but I do not miss this smell. It’s not a good memory smell, like molasses cookies. Granted, it’s not a bad memory smell, like the hamburger macaroni casserole. I ate so much of it, I threw up all over myself in the bed when I was two. The experience was so bad that I still remember my mom washing me off in the bathroom sink and I was TWO. So when she throws this formula up, it makes me want to gag. I don’t seem to remember this same smell from the formula they were giving her in the hospital and we used to supplement when she arrived home.

On the breastfeeding side of things, Lucy is actively seeking out the breast. I guess she isn’t crazy about the formula either. She has never done this before. In fact, I had this grand plan with the lactation consultant to spend two days with just the breast. I tried to solicit the help of my mom, but she just laughed at me. Then she admitted that if Lucy wanted a bottle, she would probably give it to her. It’s not that we are going off the bottle cold turkey. I’m just trying to get her to go breast first and then bottle at certain times of the day. I want her to take less than two hours to eat a full meal. How about half an hour? I’ll even give her forty-five minutes. But these two-hour sessions are too much and I’m talking about with a bottle. So we have some feeding issues. But I am happy to say that I think this plan to help with the reflux might in fact help with the breastfeeding.

When I was pregnant, I went to the Breastfeeding Center for a class. (Now I’m there at least once a week.) It was my first time there and I wrote about it way back when. I was in complete shock when I saw a video of a newborn rooting around on the chest of a mother and just bobbing her head until she made what is referred to as the natural latch. This was shockingly interesting, until I noted the caption at the bottom of the screen later in the film and this baby was SEVENTEEN weeks old. That is over four months. Four months of just letting your baby bob his head around while you wait for them to feed?

I had very few pre-conceived ideas about my delivery and motherhood, but it seems like the few things I was passionate about have gone in the complete opposite direction. And this is one of them. (Even in the Earth Day post, I declared that I would be a “recreational pumper.” Ha!) It seems that my child wants to take the lead on feeding and this is the only way that she can latch. I place the Boppy next to us in an upside down horseshoe position so that she can rest her head once she finally wiggles her way in place. Instead of cradling her in my arms, like the rest of the mothers in the world, she is splayed out straddling my opposing thigh. I know that this is too much information for many people, specifically my brother. But for all of those mothers in battle with their child while trying to breastfeed, there is a pretty good chance that your baby might be like mine and want to do it her way.

I told my mom about this recent discovery of the new crazy position. Granted it is likely to accommodate the acid reflux radiating up her baby esophagus. But some of it may be an inherited personality trait. My mom laughed and said, “I wonder where she got that from!” I guess being a grandmother is pure bliss.

Henry has a favorite saying that he quotes all of the time. When he went to meet my dad to ask for his blessing (and witnessed a man driving through the front of a Biscuitville in Greensboro), my dad said, “Well, Caroline has always done exactly what she wants to do.” I guess that I am learning what that means a little sooner than I expected.

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  1. Being Shrimanker

    Alex has always done exactly what he wants to do as well. Granted I'm not a Rutledge, but so have I.

  2. Anonymous

    I feel responsible for the Skinny Cow addiction…and would personally hate that diet no-no the most. Maybe there's a soy version. Wait, is soy bad too?


  3. Liz Self

    I have a good friend whose daughter is around 7 months. She had a really tough labor, and the little girl had all kinds of eating issues (more severe, it sounds, than what you're describing, but similar symptoms). They did much of what you're talking about (no diet, bottle-feeding expressed milk, special formula), but the thing that seemed to help the most was taking her to a chiropractor. Now, my husband's a doctor, so I'm hardly one to promote alternative medicine like this, but I know several people who have tried this route and found that it really helped things. Hope things continually improve.
    Oh, and Kim and I are reading a book together right now called "Unbuttoned," a collection of essays about breastfeeding. A lot of what you mention (and many of us have experienced — my son was bottle-fed in the NICU and took awhile to get down latching and feeding) is described in this book.

  4. Caroline Armijo

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for your comment!

    You know, I took Lucy to a chiropractor on Thursday and it totally worked. Hence the blog entry where I was giving Henry a dozen high fives.

    When I took her to the doctor on Friday and told her, she said that she wished the Baby Zantac could take the credit. I need to write a blog entry about the experience at the chiropractor. It is like I have a new baby.

    Thanks for the recommendation of the book. That sounds great. I will have to check it out. Breastfeeding can be quite insane.

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