When Jess was 5 months old, she weighed a fraction over 16 pounds. At almost 7 months, she weighed under 16 pounds. The public health nurse wasn’t worried – she said that babies have to drop below two lines on the percentile chart for them to be concerned. But I was concerned, a little. 75th percentile down to 30th percentile in weight in less than two months seemed like a lot. So we went for Jess’s (belated) 6 month check up, and the doctor wasn’t initially concerned either. Until we talked through the horrible sleep problems (waking more times a night than she did at 2 weeks old*) and the dry rabbit-pellet-esque poop and the fact that I haven’t been able to pump milk in months. (Once a month I’d pump at least 5 times in during the day, on both sides, and not get enough milk to coalesce in a puddle on the bottom of the bottle.) I mentioned that the next weekend, our plan was going to have David cover the night feedings with formula, just so that I could get a solid block of sleep in. (In large part because the sleep deprivation was bring the PPD back, and I had started to cry myself to sleep again, and I am tired of that shit.) She said that before I try formula, that we should try domperidone, the same anti-nausea drug my dad took while he was on chemo, because it has the awesome little side effect of increasing lactation. (It’s not approved for this in the States, apparently, but it’s common practice in Canada.)
IT TOTALLY WORKED.
I can’t feel any letdown when I’m nursing – G cup boobs aren’t that sensitive, or at least mine aren’t. So I had/have no idea how much milk she’s getting, and pumping has never been very effective for me. (Which I totally blame on the G cup boobs.) But I can tell that now when she’s nursing on one side and the other side leaks all over the breastfeeding pillow. The milk supply increase was very quick, and her poops totally changed within a couple of days. It took a week, but the 7th night after I started the pills (8 a day!), she slept for 5 straight hours. And the next night? FOR SEVEN HOURS IN A ROW. You guys probably don’t get how fucking amazing that is after 3 straight months of sleeping in 3 hours (and less!) intervals. I feel like, to use the cliche, a whole new person! It’s quite lovely.
Fun story about my lack of letdown sensation. Jess was a few weeks old and we ended up going to Walmart one evening (why, I can’t remember, because I kind of hate shopping there). Luckily, it was still winter, and I had my coat done up the whole time, because when we got home, I discovered that at some point during our shopping trip (probably when she started to fuss while we were waiting in the check out line), both boobs started leaking like crazy, and soaked my shirt with big wet circles. Like, wet spots the size of my hands. We laughed and laughed, and then I started wearing washable pads when I left the house.
I’m trying not feel terrible about unknowingly slightly starving my baby. I mean, she grew 2 inches in that period and still has deliciously chubby thighs, but something just didn’t quite feel right, and I’m glad we got it resolved, and I’m glad the drug works, and I’m also glad that in the first week she put on a quarter of a pound and started sleeping for nice stretches at night. Yay good medical care!
* All the sleep books focus on teaching your child to be able to fall asleep on their own, and that’s one thing that we’ve been very lucky to have no problems with, so the books were no help at all. Even at the height of her sleep issues, I’d hear her wake up occasionally, coo to herself, and go back to sleep. I take a small amount of credit for this, based on the sleep routines we started on like day 5, but mainly I think that my kid just likes to nap. Smart baby. Of course, seeing the fact that the problem was she was starving, it’s no surprise the books didn’t help. Damn lack of personalized baby handbook.