The first six weeks: Breastfeeding, Google, and Inferiority Complexes

Second-guessing oneself, I’ve learned in the last six weeks, is probably the most consistent side effect of new parenthood. It’s a good day for me if I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve questioned whether I’m doing things right or if a particular crying jag is going to irreparably damage Arthur’s young psyche. (Today’s upset over a gassy tummy, for the record, falls into that category.) I don’t know if an inferiority complex will show up on any exam, but I’m fairly certain I’m developing one.

My Google search history will reflect that. Google’s predictive text completion has already adapted to the 99.9% probability that if I’m using the search engine, it has to do with common baby concerns. “My baby hasn’t had a dirty diaper in a day and a half.” (Apparently normal for breastfed babies.) “My baby’s legs are bowed.” (Also normal. In other news, why hasn’t someone written a book of all the weird crap about newborns that nobody ever talks about?)

Breastfeeding has been my biggest source of anxiety from the beginning – in fact, since pregnancy. My mother was never able to breastfeed, and I don’t know that my grandma ever tried. The unfortunate psychological side effect of that is that my mom’s attempts to be supportive have all been laced with, “I hope you can breastfeed, since I had so much trouble with it.” Thanks, Mom. Super encouraging.

Arthur’s weight gain has been an uncertain development, which added to the concern on my end. He was 8 lb 9 oz at birth, and I don’t know what his weight was right before leaving the hospital a day and a half later. The next day was his first check; the doctor’s (old) baby scale was broken, so they took his weight by weighing me* and then having me hold him. He was “about” 8 pounds. According to the baby scale, fixed at his visit two weeks later, he still only weighed 8 pounds even. Our doctor** wasn’t concerned – he said we would discuss it at his one-month check if Arthur still hadn’t gained weight.

Our one-month appointment was last week. The baby scale weighed him at 8 lb 10 oz, still well below the 50th percentile according to the WHO’s baby growth chart, but a healthy gain of about 5 ounces a week.

But… The next day I had an appointment with a lactation consultant. I wanted reassurance from a professional that I wasn’t imagining all of the other signs that Arthur was getting enough to eat. There is no worse feeling in the world than the thought that I was unintentionally starving my son out of a misguided belief that I was doing everything right. The LC was quick to reassure me, especially after she weighed him on her digital scale. He came in at 9 lb 6 oz. She weighed him again, with the same result. She checked her scale against a hand weight; it was calibrated correctly. (She also told me we were doing everything right. Great appointment.)

Now we’re on to the next adventure: pumping.

*I gained 17-20 pounds during pregnancy – I lost 20 pounds between my last OB appointment (Monday) and Arthur’s first appointment (Friday).

**Our doctor is a family doctor (DO), not a pediatrician. Our family has gone to his practice since his father treated my great-grandparents, making Arthur the fifth generation to be a patient there. I like the continuity…and the ability to schedule tandem appointments for both of us. 🙂



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