Our youngest son, Ben, is a strong willed little boy. From the moment he came into this world, things have been his way or the highway. Or in the case of his birth - both!
From the very beginning, he was an excellent nurser. He latched on within five minutes of being born, and never looked back. I weaned him at 13 months, but he probably would have kept nursing for another year had I let him.
Now he is underweight. Not that I put too much stock in the growth curves, but they did create them for a reason. At his 18 month check-up, he was in the 98th percentile for height and the 0 percentile for weight. Yes...ZERO! To our credit, both of the boys had a projectile vomiting plague the week before Ben's check-up. He lost five pounds that week, which for a boy of his size is a lot of weight. You could see his collarbones sticking out. I could trace the contour of every rib with my eyes. It was like watching my little boy peer out of a super model's body.
What is the connection between his weight gain issues and breastfeeding? My mommy guilt! Before weaning him, Ben would never take a bottle. We tried day-long nursing strikes, we tried bottle, cups, syringes...anything to get milk into him another way besides directly from my udders. I certainly didn't mind all of the nursing, but a girl's gotta have a break. He wouldn't take anything. I finally got him to take a few sips from one of those plastic shot glasses that comes with children's Tylenol.
Before weaning him, he would also never take milk, or formula - nothing except water - and then only if it was from the short-man's shot glass. I always assumed that after I weaned him, he wouldn't have a choice and would start drinking milk. We tried whole fat, half fat, no fat, goat milk, buffalo milk, soy milk, rice milk, chocolate flavored, strawberry flavored. It was a veritable Starbucks of dairy drinks at my house. No luck!!
I even went so far as to put cinnamon and vanilla extract into his drink thinking the incredibly unique flavor would tempt him. It didn't. And then my pediatrician reminded me that vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Granted, it was only a couple of drops, but at least he had the right mocktail for his little shot glass.
Now, I know that milk is not the panacea of children's weight gain, but you have to admit, it doesn't hurt. Especially breast milk. There have been numerous times in the last six months (as I've watched Ben's weight curve plummet), that I've wondered if it wasn't my own selfishness that caused me to wean him when he was still happily nursing. Not only does a girl need a break, but a girl's gotta have a cocktail sometimes, too! And I wasn't a big fan of those bite marks I was getting from his periodic experiments with chewing while nursing.
Life can't be full of what ifs, but this is a what if that I've been thinking about a lot since his mandatory doctor ordered weigh-in is on Thursday. We'll just have to hope that all of that mac n' cheese I've made with heavy cream and those avacadoes that I've hidden in his grilled cheese sandwiches are doing the trick.