I Starved My Baby, Part Two

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I’ve previously mentioned how I starved my son for the first 23 hours of his life because I was far too sleep-deprived, doped-up, and frightened of having a new baby (not to mention recovering from a particularly traumatic labor) to realize that the nurses were serving me up lactivist ideology as sound medical advice.  The only visitors I had (my parents and my ex) were as inexperienced with neonates as I was, so I afforded these nurses far more credibility than they deserved.  Sadly, I was not yet finished torturing my poor little fella.

I don’t recall much about the first few day after being discharged — apart from my ex’s evil bitch of a sister pestering me about seeing her nephew.  (Really? It’s a friggin’ newborn.  Are you expecting it to do tricks?)  I assume we both got some sleep, what with having temporarily moved into my mother’s bedroom.  (Thanks, mom!)  Two days after we were discharged, I brought him to his first appointment at the pediatrician and things took a turn for the worse.

Neonates generally lose between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight within the first few days of life, though they’re expected to be back up to their original birth weight by the time they’re 10 to 14 days old.

My son was born weighing 7 lbs 11 oz.  He was starved for the first day, fed a few ounces of formula on the second, and by day four my milk had begun coming in, so I was able to throw in a few ouncedsof breastmilk.  On the fifth day — the day of his first appointment — he weighed in at 7 lbs 8 ounces.  Though the accuracy of that weighing would be questioned at a later appointment (with a different doctor, I should add) it seemed then that my son had only lost three ounces of his birth weight.  Not a big deal, considering he was a whopping 21.5 inches in length (the 99th percentile!) but only the 38th percentile for weight. I had a long, skinny-looking baby.

But the doctor (I’ll refer to him as ‘Dr. W.’) freaked out, accusing me and my ex (who was present for that appointment) of “overfeeding” the baby, after which he went off on some rant about infant obesity and on-demand feeding.  And while I certainly agree that infant obesity is a huge problem in America (and there is nothing remotely cute about a fat baby), none of the crap he was dishing out to us had anything to do with my baby.

Dr. W. wanted to know how much I’d been feeding him.  I replied, “2.5 oz about 8 times per day.”  He told me to reduce the amount of breastmilk/formula to only 1.5 oz (keep in mind that a newborn should generally get 2-3 ounces per feeding) and to only feed him every four waking hours.  This went against all of my baby books, but both my ex and my mother (who was down the hall having a waiting room stare-down with the ex’s father) insisted I needed to listen to the pediatrician.  After all, I’m not a doctor.  (No, just a mother with a shitty support network.)  In the wake of that first appointment, my son’s behavior changed tremendously.

He’d initially calmed down after the first day of life starving and was generally pretty mellow.  Suddenly, he’d become a different baby, crying inconsolably for hours at a time.  Once again, I was so sleep-deprived, uncertain, and utterly terrified my baby that I had trouble putting two and two together.  The appointment had been on a Thursday, so by the time Friday evening rolled around, I was ready to call the nurses’ after-hours line.  They told me to bring him back in the following morning to get checked out.  Being a Saturday, the practice only offered limited hours and availability.  We ended up seeing a nurse who confirmed my worst fear: my baby had colic.

My little baby’s “colic” was so severe that not even the 5S’s could help.  I was just about ready to resign myself to four months worth of sleepless nights and inconsolable crying when my mother — who at this point had been getting up with me to help care for my son (my movement was still pretty limited by my injuries) — decided she’d had enough and that I was on my own with this shrieking, shitting little thing.  And so, out of desperation, I attempted the one thing I’d been warned NOT to resort to — feeding him.

When I made my intentions known, not only did my mother forget how tired she was, but she proceed to wake my father — who’s been sleeping on the couch since I was twelve — shrieking that I was going to hurt the baby.  He in turn decided to verbally assault me and warned me that if his grandson needed medical attention because I’d overfed him, he’d put me right there in the hospital with him.  (Thanks for your support, Dad! <3)

My son ceased crying the moment the bottle touched his lips. He ended up consuming a full three ounces of formula before settling down to sleep. He woke up about two to three hours later, drank a good three ounces of breast milk (my mother looked stricken), had his diaper changed, and again went back to sleep. Whenever my son’s “colic” began to rear its ugly head (approximately 8 times per day), I’d stick a bottle of breast milk in his mouth and he would settle right down.

At his second well visit — exactly a week after the first — my baby weighed in at 7 lb 6 oz. He was now eleven days old and had yet to regain his birth weight.  But the physician’s assistant we saw was unconcerned, especially after I’d explained about the two periods of starvation.  And it was she who realized that the weighing from his visit with Dr. W. could not possibly have been accurate because — get ready — he only weighed in at 7 lbs 2 ounces when we’d brought him in that Saturday morning, a fact which had completely escaped my sleep-deprived attention.  Though  you’d think the nurse might have said something about a baby losing six ounces in two days.

So there you have it — in a nutshell, a pediatrician put my 38th-percentile-for-weight, 99th for length neonate on a starvation diet.  My baby was subjected to not one but two periods of prolonged starvation before he was a week old.  *Applause sign*

Newborn Twins “Can’t Stop Hugging”

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Mixed thoughts on this video.  On the one hand, it’s pretty cute, and let’s face it — the only thing a newborn is actually good for (as far as social media is concerned) is looking cute.  Cute newborns are rare, so if these babies truly are twins, it makes them even more of a novelty.  However, as I continued watching I came to realize that the peaceful soundtrack does not match up with the actual content of the video.

These babies aren’t hugging; they’re being pressed into each other and grow increasingly uncomfortable as the video progresses.  Whenever the ‘nates attempt to reposition themselves, the ominous pair of hands holding the two presses them even more firmly together.  At 1:13, they begin to grow restless.  One look at their faces is enough to know that these babies are getting fussy, despite the ultra-calming “babies in nature” track playing in the background.  Mere seconds later, they attempt to push away from one another, only the hands are holding them firmly in place.

I finally started to get uncomfortable around 1:40, when the hands slowly begin to rotate the head and neck of the baby on the left as if to pose it, only the owner of the hands does not seem quite certain how they ought to pose the baby’s head.  I feel as if I’m watching a sculptor at work, only they are using living baby flesh instead of clay.

The hands finally opt for smooshing the heads of these two neonates together and then rotating the head of the one on the right to make it look as if it is kissing its sibling.  This baby keeps resisting, and the one on the left lets out a few good cries (at 2:15) before starting to kick.  The handling gets even more rough at this point, and you can see just how hard they are being held at 2:22, when the thumb of the left hand digs into Lefty’s fleshy little cheek.  The babies are now visibly struggling to break free from a missionary-like position.  (So much for “can’t stop hugging.”)

Just as the struggle begins to get interesting, the camera cuts away (2:26), and we’re back to peaceful-looking babies being pressed together… for all of ten seconds.  Now it’s Righty’s turn to show distress, and the hands do this really impressive smoosh-and-snatch move to get those babies the hell out of that bath:

STEP ONE: Establish firm grip on babies’ heads and necks.
STEP TWO: Smoosh & hold.
STEP THREE: Pressing both babies firmly together, lift as if they were a single unit.
STEP FOUR: Whoa, now!  Careful not to drop!  (There’s a mid-lift cut at 2:43.)
STEP FIVE: Set down upon towel.  Choose the baby whose cries of pain are most pleasing to your ears and bend back a limb of choice until you hear it snap.  Then, cover and dry, once again treating babies as a single unit.

Lefty is apparently a boy, by the way.  And something just tells me that Righty — whose leg appears to be broken by the handler exactly two seconds before the video *conveniently* comes to an end — to be a girl.  The more I watch of this now-viral video, the more ludicrous it seems.  Look, I totally get the urge to exploit neonates. They’re vulnerable, they’re not actually people, and they’re not even very interesting.  The consciousness of a newborn (or a young infant) is completely reflexive, governed by primitive instincts which are shed as the mind forms.   They’re essentially fetuses outside of the womb.  Plus, they shit and scream and eat, and then they shit and scream some more.  Your job is to look after them — feed them and change them and sometimes even poop for them.  They owe you for their continued existence, so why shouldn’t you come up with fun and creative ways to exploit them for fun (or even profit)?

But there’s a line you just don’t cross, and it seems to me that the French nurse who made this video (and apparently owns some sort of “infant spa” in France) seems to be dancing right up against it.  The sight of these two naked babies being forcibly held together makes my skin crawl.  The sexes of these babies are irrelevant (since neonates are gender and sexuality-free anyway), yet I’d argue that the manner in which they are being treated is indeed borderline sexual.

It’s one thing to bathe babies together.  It’s something else entirely to smear their bodies together and simulate affectionate gestures like hugging and kissing and who knows what else.  True, the babies are oblivious to what is actually be done to them; all they’re aware of is their own acute distress — if even that much.  But suppose these weren’t newborns being held and rubbed together.  Suppose this were being done with older babies, or with one older baby and its newborn sibling.  Suppose neither of these babies were siblings.  Would it still be cute and innocent fun then?  The manner of this simulated encounter makes me wonder if this “spa nurse” (or the parents) has some sort of an infant fetish.

And to allege that they would have behaved this way in the womb is highly inaccurate. These twins were clearly not monoamniotic, so the only flesh-to-flesh contact they might have had in the womb would have come from their umbilical cords touching/tangling together — if that much even counts.

Do I think what’s being done to these babies is wrong?  Of course not; their parents clearly sanctioned it, which is the only factor that should to be taken into account in dealing with neonates.  (They’re essentially just fetuses anyway.)  But I certainly do find this creepy, and the video is just ten times worse.  Odds are these babies will survive their infancy, see this video, and wish they hadn’t.

I Starved My Baby, Part One

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My son did not eat until 23 hours after he was born.

He was my first child, and my mother (who’d adopted me at five weeks) didn’t have any more experience with newborns than I did, so we initially listened to the recovery ward nurses who said it wasn’t necessary for babies to eat within the first twenty-four hours of birth.

My son had some of the classic latching problems (which we would later overcome), but more importantly, I WAS NOT PRODUCING ANY BREASTMILK.  I never produced any colostrum, and the milk did not start coming in normally until several days after the birth.

But the nurses assured me I would produce milk if I kept trying to latch him on.  And so I did, even though it felt as if I were banging both our freaking heads again the wall.

When he was 10 hours old, I asked for formula.  The nurses convinced me it was unnecessary, and to keep on trying to latch and/or pump.  At 12 hours old, I asked again.  A nurse instead came in to “coach” me.  At this point, I was torn between “doing the right thing” (holding out to EBF) and doing what was “convenient for me” (feeding a starving baby).

Please keep in mind that I was new to all this, utterly-sleep deprived (I’d been averaging two hours a night for the past five days) and under the influence of oxycodone, yet still in a terrible amount of pain.  I figured these nurses were the “experts,” and when they offered me a newborn pacifier to “soothe” (i.e. shut up) my hungry baby, I gladly accepted.

A few hours later (and after few more timid requests for formula), they sent in a lactation consultant who simply reiterated everything I’d already read in books.  We agreed that I’d wait until he was 18 hours old before resorting to formula, which somehow turned into 20.

At 20 hours, I insisted upon feeding my baby formula.  The nurses offered some excuse or another as to why the “breastfeeding-friendly formula” (Similac) wasn’t available at that particular moment in time.  At 21 hours, I finally called my father in another state (my mom did not have her car) to go to the store and bring me some damned formula.  He arrived with Similac about an hour later, but the nurse told me it wasn’t the *correct* Similac; unless I used the RTD version (which was supposedly the same consistency as breastmilk), I’d have no hope of ever breastfeeding my baby.  (Keep in mind these people gave my kid a freakin’ pacifier!)

I’d finally had enough, and at 22 hours I told them to find me whatever the hell I was supposed to feed my baby or I was going to give him powdered Similac.  It took my mother following up half an hour later, but at 23 hours old my baby was finally permitted to eat… a single ounce of formula.  Any more, I was told, and my baby would get sick. :-\

Thankfully, my milk came in a few days later, and I was able to EBF my son for the next 8.5 months.  But because of my experience, I never lost sight of the fact that while breast may be best, it isn’t everything.  And there is seriously something wrong with anyone who would readily sacrifice their baby’s health (or overall well-being) for the sake of an ideology.