Just in Time

My son is 11 months old and is healthy and happy and still nursing like a pro. If I were still schedule feeding him, I think he would be formula fed, sad and distant.

I read Baby Whisperer and Babywise before J. was born, but I didn't really come to any decision on whether to put him on a schedule or not. I knew that the AAP, the health unit and my doctor advocated feeding on demand, but the scheduling seemed to make more sense. I mean, after all, who would want a "demanding" child?

J. was born via c-section on his due date after 26 hours of labour, which stalled. He weighed 8 pounds 5 ounces. I nursed him within an hour of his birth, and he latched on immediately. It didn't hurt, and I was happy. J. nursed almost constantly for the first 3 days, and I was becoming exhausted.

Then we met Anna. She was an OB nurse who came to check on us. She sympathized with me about how tired I was. And then she had a marvelous suggestion. Feed baby according to his "sleep cycles", which translated in every 2.5-3 hours for a newborn, gradually spreading out feedings to every 4 hours. That was the validation I needed! She asked us not to tell anybody else where we heard the info, since she had previously gotten in trouble for spreading the word. That should have sounded alarms in me, but it didn't. I was exhausted, and I honestly thought that God had sent us Anna to save our sanity. She was a pastor's wife at a church of the same denomination that we went to. It was very easy to trust her. She told me to nurse J. one last time, swaddled him tightly, and put him in his bassinet. She then gave me some milk and toast, tucked me in with a heated blanket and turned off the lights. The next thing I knew it was 3 hours later, and J. was waking up! It was a miracle! I was sold on scheduling. I praised God.

I later figured out the reason he slept after we met the nurse was because he was swaddled and felt secure. .

From then on, J. was swaddled tightly and woke up about every 3 hours. He was always put down awake, in his own bed. His first well-baby check-up showed he was gaining well, weighing in at the 75th percentile. At 2 months he weighed 12 pounds, 5 ounces. I was happy and well rested, had a clean house and was more in love with my husband than ever. I truly pitied anybody who was at the beck and call of a baby. Those foolish parents!

When J. was about 3 and a half months old, I started thinking he looked a little skinny. Everybody told me I was silly. Then he started fighting when I wanted him to nurse. And sometimes he would wake up half an hour into his nap crying. I, being a "mother in charge", let him cry himself back to sleep. It only took a few minutes usually. But I was concerned. What was going on?

We went to his 4-month appointment and he weighed in at 11 pounds, 6 ounces. He had lost nearly a pound in 2 months, where he should have gained at least 3.

I was horrified. And so was our family doctor. She got us in to see a pediatrician the next day, meanwhile telling me to nurse him as much as I could, and that I could introduce cereal if I wanted to. (I now know there is no good reason that a 4 month old breastfed baby needs cereal.)

I still didn't want to screw up my baby's schedule. Mr. Ezzo promised me I'd have a demanding brat with "metabolic confusion" if I did. So I sadly sent my husband out for formula, and started pumping my milk to try and get my supply back up.

It didn't work. Within a week I was feeding J. 75% formula.

We went to see the pediatrician. She sent us for a whole bunch of blood work and I had to take a urine sample from J.. I was honestly hoping it would show some minor problem that caused him to lose weight. It couldn't be my fault. I couldn't have been starving my baby. Could I?

When the test results all came back normal, I started doing research on line and was shocked and saddened by what I'd discovered. Another story just like mine, followed by another, just like mine.

I checked out ezzo.info and felt like I could have written half of the stuff I was reading. It hit me. I WAS starving my baby. But he was eating every 3-3.5 hours! That's normal, isn't it? Well, it is normal for SOME babies. Some babies need to eat every 2 hours, some every 3, some like to mix it up. They need to be in charge of how often and how much to eat. Demanding, yes. But that's what babies are like. I had a major paradigm shift.

I started cuddling my baby. Instead of a constant "Eat-Wake-Sleep routine", I enjoyed him. I nursed him before naps and sometimes even (gasp!) to sleep. When he woke up to feed in the early morning I brought him into our bed and we cuddled and slept together for a couple more hours.

This is when I fell in love with my boy. I can honestly say that I didn't bond with him until then. I thought that I loved him, but I didn't know what I was missing out on.

We have developed this amazing love and connection and trust that I could have completely lost for the sake of a "routine".

I got a sling, partly for convenience, partly to help us become closer, and partly to defy good old "Dr." Ezzo. I was becoming a "marsupial mom" and I was going to wear that sling as a badge of honour. I began taking fenugreek and drinking this amazing stuff called Abundant Milk tea. With frequent nursing and occasional pumping I was able to get my milk supply up to 100 % and 6 months later we are still nursing and showing no signs of stopping!

If you had asked me when J. was new how to be a successful parent I would have handed you a copy of Babywise and told you to show the baby who the boss was. Now I'd have to tell you to listen to your baby. That's it. And maybe accept the fact that for the first little while, that sweet little creature that you made with love needs to be in charge.

by K. M.