Yes, this will be a post about poop. Again. Both the literal and metaphorical kind.
Clearly, poop is the new black. We've covered CatheterGate, SwaddleGate, and now I bring you...PoopGate. We have worked through various baby challenges -- sleep schedules, dairy intolerance, and breast-feeding difficulties. I guess we are simply making our way through all normal new-parent challenges, with the next one clearly centered on elimination. Or in our case, the lack of elimination.
Dr. Awesome did not return my phone call until Sunday morning (the fact that she works on Sunday still makes her awesome, in my opinion. I will forgive the fact that she took almost 24 hours to return my call.) The poor medical assistant I spoke with on Saturday afternoon told me to "continue the juices." I promptly replied with, "How much, how often, what dilution of water, and for how long?" only to be met with a meek, "I'm just the messenger. I don't know." Frustrating, to say the least. We gave Scotty some apple juice on Sunday morning, which he promptly vomited ALL of it on our couch. Dr. Awesome happened to call 30 minutes later and she asked us to come in. I was kind of freaking out at this point since I had never seen him throw up this much. I also was not in agreement with the idea of supplementing regular feeds with juice feeds (2oz of apple juice mixed with 2oz of water) since it lacked the same consistency of breast milk. But more on that later.
So, I packed up the Bear and headed out. We had given him the suppository about an hour before she called, so I had a nice, fat diaper to show her. See? Cat ownership once again translates into parenthood. It's the old axiom, "Always bring in a fecal sample." And what a sample we had -- I think it was still steaming by the time I got to the office.
She and I went through the usual exam (this time, it included a rectal exam - ouch). She continued to seem baffled since Scotty is primarily breastfed. She kept saying, "He should be pooping at least every other day." And then I would say, "But he's not." And then she would say, "But he should be." And then I would say, "But he's not." This circular conversation continued for about 20 minutes until she finally gave me a referral to a G.I specialist with strict instructions to call by Wednesday if he has not pooped on his own.
And then, before she left, she uttered the words I dread to hear.
"It must be the breastmilk."
Brian had echoed a similar sentiment earlier in the week. I'm guessing that perhaps you, too, my readers, might be thinking the same thing. So, to avoid any confusion, let me be very clear:
IT'S NOT THE BREASTMILK.
Is this how women slowly turn crazy? It is, I think. I've worked with enough depressed, post-menopausal women in practice to know that the majority of us women will probably lose our minds once we reach 50. (no offense, Mom. This stat does not include you. Yet. [haha]). Seriously - these down-trodden martyrs would slowly limp into my office, harping about their children who don't call enough, some no-good ex-husband, and their weight problems while we were still in the hallway. They wouldn't even wait for the quiet of my office before starting their diatribe. They were all avid Oprah-watchers. They all had fibromylagia and thyroid problems. They were tough, tough clients to work with because there was not a lot of motivation to employ new behaviors and they relished in complaining about the state of their lives. And interestingly enough, I went through a thorough clinical intake with them, complete with a co-written treatment plan, without ever thinking to ask, "At any point in your life, did anyone ever criticize your breast milk?"
Is this how it starts? Were those women once vivacious, thoughtful, insight people? Did the slow progression towards martyrdom start when they tried to breast feed their children, only to be told at every turn that when their child was allegedly sick, it must be their fault? Were they beaten down and blamed? Because it is really is crazy-making. My self-confidence is slowly ebbing away when people make this comment, even though my rational brain is screaming, "It's not the breast milk!" I may not know what is wrong, if anything, but I feel very certain it is not me.
I mean, am I going to be at fault for every single thing that Scotty ever does or fails to do? I don't think so. One day, he is going to be his own person and will be making his own choices. And with that, I'm doing the best I can. I haven't cheated on my breast milk diet. I have cut out every single thing that could possibly cause him harm or discomfort. (I realized last week, to my horror, that gone are the days of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. Ushered in for the holiday season: Gingerbread Lattes. I missed it. I missed the whole PSL season. It really happened - an entire fall with only one or two PSLs. Shocking but true.) I am literally living on eggs, toast, turkey sandwiches, and roasted chicken. And the occasional dose of Halloween candy (and cookies). So no, people. IT'S NOT THE BREAST MILK.
Why are we so quick to blame the Mom? I have control of 90% of his life right now, but I do not have control of his GI track. And not to mention, I feel like I know my child quite well by now. I have worked my bum off to get him to sleep, to sleep in the crib, to sleep un-swaddled (for the most part.) I've worked to get him to track objects, to grasp objects, and to reach for objects. I know how to calm him, how to soothe him, and how to put him down for both nap-time and bed-time. I know which binkie he prefers (the orange one), his favorite toy (Mr. HappyCow), and how to rock him to sleep (upright sway with a slight bounce.)
I have been the sole caretaker of this child for the past 10 weeks, 20 hours a day, 5 days a week. That means since mid-September, I have put in darn near 1,000 of primary care-giving. According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of 'Outliers,' a person needs 10,000 hours of practice before they master an activity. Which means I'm 1/10 of the way there. I practically have a PhD in Scotty-Bear.
It also means...IT'S NOT THE BREAST MILK. My mom-gut reaction is that everything is totally and completely fine. He's just not a big pooper. I plan to take him to the specialist later this week, and that is for reassurance only.
I just hate it when others turn the finger to me and call out the breast milk. Trust me, I am working my butt off for this child. I am still pumping, for goodness sake! Three months of pumping is enough to drive anyone mad. I wish I was stronger to just ignore the comments, but I admit, it gets to me. It plants seeds in my head that make me think, "What if I'm wrong? What if they are right? What am I missing?" and it is crazy-making. My track record may not be stellar at this point (jaundice will forever be a dirty word to me), but I fear I will turn into that post-menopausal women when I hit my 50s if things continue at this rate. Unsure, timid, passive-aggressive, and wounded.
So let me just say, for the record: be kind to new moms. We are fragile creatures. Think of us as soft, malleable objects - we haven't hardened into Parental Pros just yet. I still have 9,000 more hours until I am a master. We are open to suggestion, but sometimes, comments are unwarranted and downright unhelpful. And please, never, ever comment on the breast milk.