All I Wanted to Say

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As the weeks passed and the frost thawed and the flowers bloomed and the outside world began to seep into our lives again, people began to ask how we were doing.  I began to get back on the internet some and share stories and photos when I could.  But to me, the most important opportunities are those face-to-face times with people in our community.  We were still new here when Eloise was born, less than a year.  At the time in my life when I needed community more than any other time, I was starting over in a new town -- again.  So to me, these precious and rare conversations are extremely valuable.  And because I have little children, these conversations about How Things Are Really Actually Going are constantly disrupted.  Writing this from the trenches is the only way I can communicate everything that was really going on this month.  This is Everything I would have told you if you could have been here, everything that got interrupted so many times, everything that no one had the time to hear entirely.  But this is Everything I needed to say.  This is all those pieces I told one person or another, all put together in one place.  

This was a busy month!  Geoff's birthday, St. Patrick's Day, Dr. Seuss Day at Cannon's school, Cannon's birthday, throwing a home birthday party, and finally, Easter!  Glenn and Kevin came to visit and we had a very sweet holiday with them. 

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Easter children

I also got to put away the maternity clothes! 

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But mostly, this was the month I began to realize Eloise had some issues that were hard to face and even more difficult to correct.

TORTICOLLIS

This was the month that I began to realize something important through looking at the photographs below as well as the dozens (OK hundreds) of photos from my phone.  As I sat there after finally getting everyone to bed, exhausted, scrolling through my photos and trying hard to pick just ONE of them to share on Instagram, I noticed Eloise had her head turned to the right in most of the pictures.  Well, that's strange, I thought.  I figured it was just a cute little quirk she’d probably grow out of, or that she preferred to suck on her fingers on the right hand or that she just liked looking to the right better, that it was more comfortable that way.  It never occurred to me that this was problematic.  But being the mama bear that I am, I couldn’t resist Googling this phenomenon.  Never visit “Dr. Google” after 10 p.m.  It will keep you up all night.  I wondered if it could be this torticollis the Internet spoke of.  The next day, I tried to get her to turn her head to the left, but even when happy and motivated, she could not fully rotate her head to the left without taking a little bit of her right shoulder with her, or she could turn her chin to the left somewhat but the top of her head remained tilted right.

 

Some time between her 4-week checkup and 12 days thereafter (So, Feb 16 – 28), she developed a slight flat spot on the right side of the back of her head as well as an overall sort of egg shape to her head.  I first noticed it when Geoff was holding Eloise while sitting at his desk, and I walked in to get her from him.  It was my first time really getting a good look at the top view of her head.  I was horrified!  What!?  My baby looks deformed!  Her face is warped!  Her whole head is misshapen!  One side of her face protrudes more forward than the other side!  I was grief-stricken and panicked.  What have I done?!  Worse, what have I not done?!  Babies get flat heads from not being held and from spending too much time in baby gear - Rock & Plays and bouncers and swings and the like, I knew this!  I knew this!  I was a huge babywearing proponent for this reason and had been wearing babies and toddlers for almost six years.  How could this happen?  That's just the thing with Eloise, though - she slept so much!  And slept, and slept, and slept and slept.  I thought I just lucked out with a baby sleeping through the night at 3 weeks.  And with all the activity in the house with the other children, I maybe didn't notice over time that she was sleeping in aggregate more than normal.  It was especially hard to notice since her sleep came in fits and spurts.

positional plagiocephaly

 

I was so despondent that I shared my story on Instagram, and luckily, it was found by Rachel Coley, who also happens to be a fellow Furman graduate as well as an amazing and entrepreneurial occupational therapist who lives right over in Charlotte.  She has this website called www.candokiddo.com.  I found an article called When Baby Favors Turning Her Head One Direction that opened up to me what was truly going on: torticollis.  And torticollis plus excessive sleeping had led to the flat spot and worse, to the plagiocephaly (the misshapen head).

Her website was chock full of helpful advice on plagiocephaly and she has also written two really well-done books.  The first, The Flat Head Syndrome Fix and the second, a short & sweet activity book that I actually purchased and used to help Eloise stretch and strengthen her neck muscles.

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I even had the chance to chat with Rachel and I advocated for Eloise by calling the pediatrician the next day and asking for a referral to a pediatric physical therapist who specialized in infant torticollis (not all of them do).  We went to Pediatrics Unlimited in Spartanburg, and I can’t say enough good things about this place.  One of our first times there, the lead occupational therapist, Kathy, came in to check out Eloise.  She said that as part of their new screening policy, they check all new infants for tongue tie.  With one brief check and a few questions about Eloise’s sleeping and eating habits and her weight, she said it was very likely Eloise had a tongue tie.  And I was suspicious of what she said, as I had specifically asked the pediatrician to check for this at the 4-week checkup since she wasn’t latching that great, and he said he did not see it.  

The torticollis could be explained by a number of factors and the path to correcting it was now available to me.  And theoretically, correcting that would, over time, abate the plagiocephaly and flat spot.  But the other problem remained.  It was the torticollis (which caused the head turning preference) combined with the excessive sleeping that had caused the plagiocephaly.  (And then the excessive sleeping feeding the progression of the torticollis.  The two problems went hand in hand and exacerbated each other.)  So with torticollis potentially resolving, it begged the question, why was she sleeping so much?

Torticollis exercises

 

STARVATION

Eloise was starving, and I didn’t know it.

At birth, she weighed 7 lb 2 oz.  Perfectly average.

24 hours later, weighed again by my midwife (Linda! She's wonderful!), 6 lb 14 oz.  Totally normal.

At 1 week, weight by the pediatrician, 7 lb 1 oz.  Back to birth weight on time or early.  Great!

At 2 weeks, weighed by the midwife during our checkup, 8 lb 6 oz.  Whoa!  First time any of my babies has made it past the 50th percentile mark!

At 4 weeks, for her 1 month checkup with the pediatrician, 8 lb 7 oz.  The last time the pediatrician saw her, she was only 7 lb 1 oz, so to him, progress looked good, and I had no reason to be really thinking about her weight.  He wasn’t concerned, I wasn’t concerned, although I started to feed her some of the extra I’d had to pump to relieve engorgement in the beginning, just because she was crying in hunger so much.  (Meanwhile, around this time we started at Pediatrics Unlimited and Kathy was alerting me to the tongue tie possibility.  One visit we had there, I had to feed Eloise before we left, with a borrowed bottle because we didn’t own any, and I found myself in the bathroom prepping the bottle (this was a new skill for me), washing my hands, warming up and pouring the little baggie of previously frozen breastmilk.  It was here that I had to use one of the frozen bags, one from the bottom of the freezer, an early one with colostrum.  I remember that the colostrum would not go through the nipple, so I opened the bottle, wiped it out with my finger, and fed it to her by sticking my finger into her mouth, right there in the bathroom floor.  It was a low moment, and a sign to me that something was definitely off.

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At 7 weeks, during our checkup with the midwife (March 2), 8 lb 3.5 oz.  And this is when, as I was dressing Eloise on the couch, Linda pointed out to me that Eloise hadn’t gained any weight in FOUR WEEKS.  I remember turning around to look at Linda with my still-smiling-at-Eloise face, and it quickly falling off my face when I said, “What?  None?”  OK.  Uh oh.

I also decided to keep a check on her weight myself with weekly weigh-ins at the birth center (and as time went on, at the lactation consultant’s office and her support group and the breastfeeding support group at the hospital).  I used this great, simple, free website to record all the little weights I’d bring home on little scraps of paper or from memory: iotacharts.com.  I highly recommend it if you’re tracking weight over time as it plots weight or height data out on a percentile chart for you and you can pick which chart you want it to use.  Since I was now working with multiple caregivers and weighing her at multiple sites, this was the easiest way to put everything in one spot with the date on it and visualize patterns over time.

 

8 weeks, a weight check, 8 lb 5 oz.  Uh oh. Oh no.

I decided to see a lactation consultant, Meredith Wentzel.  She's amazing!  I highly recommend her.

9 weeks, 8 lb 7 oz

10 weeks, at the 2-month checkup with the pediatrician, 8 lb 7.5 oz.  Labeled “Failure to Thrive.” 

why is math so hard

Now the pediatrician is concerned, because the last time that he saw Eloise, a month prior, she weighed the same thing, so this is now EIGHT WEEKS with no weight gain.  Eloise is now completely off the weight chart.  We are required to return in 48 hours with instructions to give her formula, and he recommended Enfamil.  But me, as a hard-headed breastfeeding mama bear, wore myself thin pumping, nursing, bottle feeding her what I’d just pumped, and still caring for our other children because remember, Geoff’s back at work now.  48 hours later, she weighed in at 8 lb 10 oz.  The alarm was off now, we were not mandated to switch to formula or anything like that, but the question still remained: why was she not gaining weight?

 

THE DEBUT OF FORMULA

Around 11 pm the evening of March 25th, that day we’d taken her in for the 48-hour weigh-in, I made my first-ever bottle of formula.  I did it because I had just spent nearly four hours in bed with her continuously nursing her while she more or less slept.  But after weighing her every hour, she had not gained even a tenth of an ounce.  And yes, I understand that milk comes on demand and dry nursing is necessary sometimes to create demand and that sleepy sucking isn’t always productive, especially late at night.  But if these people I’d been working with were right and she did have a tongue tie, her demand wasn’t making the right stimulation to bring more milk.  I was all out of pumped milk and all out of shared milk from another mama.  I was also all out of myself.  I was falling over asleep sitting up trying to feed that baby.  I am a big fan of co-sleeping, but Eloise couldn’t stay attached to nurse side-lying in bed, and I could not stay awake holding it in for her.  And I also know that cosleeping isn’t safe when you are completely exhausted.  It was getting dangerous for me to care for her alone in such a state.  Meanwhile, Geoff was downstairs, working on something for work and couldn’t help me.  And we had a birthday party to throw the next day and Easter the day after that, so no such thing as rest.  And no rest means no milk.  So I made 2 little ounces of formula in a tiny bottle.  I admit I rather liked the fresh, smooth motion of scooping and evening off the top with the lid.  It was kind of nice, and I felt good knowing I was doing what was best for her, and the secure feeling of preparing a hygienic, warm, heavy, small glass bottle.  It felt comforting in my hands.

I was just one day shy of six YEARS of continuous breastfeeding without formula.  But I didn’t feel like a failure.  I breathed a heavy sigh and let out relief, a sense of oh-well-ness, failure, success, gratitude for formula, and hope that this will work.  Then I headed upstairs with the bottle.  No time for more emotions.  I marked the moment in my mind as a milestone, for me.  Mamas grow too. 

And the thing is, when your back is up against a wall like this, it is easier to feel good about whatever decision it is that you have to make.  For anyone who is going through this situation, it’s great if you can stay as close to the breast as possible, but these decisions, these techniques, these choices – breastfeeding, Supplemental Nursing System, bottle feeding (and if so, milk or formula or some combination thereof) – you can’t just keep trying out all these options ad infinitum.  Little infants are small and fragile and can take a turn for dehydration very quickly.  Anyone who is judgmental about your method of feeding your baby has the luxury of not being solely responsible for the infant’s survival.

I fed her the bottle, which she seemed to really like and it made her so happy and sleepy.  Then I wrote this in my Instagram, still feeling raw (you can see I was trying to blame myself):

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everyday_films Tough days for Eloise and me. 10 weeks old now. No weight gain in 8 weeks...at least mostly due to my not eating much or sleeping much, combined with her sleeping through the night starting around 3 weeks (I didn't know that was bad! I never had a baby who slept longer than 3 hours at this age). It is amazing how hard something like "eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every day" and "sleep 8 hours out of 24" is. Thankfully, I had Amanda Mathis loan me a bottle at the exact right time, my neighbor Danielle who showed me how to use it right by good example, my dear friend Hannah give me a plan of action late at night to help restore my milk supply, our amazing helper Laura came and cleaned our house that looked like a bomb went off as usual but also paid extra attention to my big kids so I could keep pumping and sleeping, and Geoff by my side when he finally got home from work. I haven't had to use formula yet, because so far I had enough milk stored in the freezer, and now I'm rebuilding what was used up. But I made up my first-ever bottle of formula to have on the ready just in case, and let me tell you. That was hard to do. I am 24 hours shy of 6 solid years breastfeeding without supplementing (that's right! Cannon's birthday is tomorrow! Yay!) through 2 pregnancies and tandem nursing twice. I would do anything to save my Lo Lo, though, including wrecking a pride I didn't know was there. It's no longer about a perfect record. It's about doing what is best for her, and facing that sometimes that can't be me. And having the strength to be weak. This is temporary. This will get better.

And so I proudly bottle feed Eloise, because it’s the best way to feed her.  Through her first birthday, I would pump to fill her bottles with as much milk as I could provide, committing hours upon hours a day to pumping, sacrificing everything I would do with that time she’s asleep.  I would hire household help to do all the housework and laundry as well as cook dinner, serve it, clean it up, and pack our kids’ lunches every single night.  (Miss Laura.  She was wonderful and was with us for many months.)  And the rest will be formula.  In fact, you will see photographs of her drinking from her cute little glass bottles from here on out! 

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TONGUE TIE

OK, so now I’ve got her on the bottle.  I’m nursing, I’m pumping, I’m bottle feeding what I pumped, I’m bottle feeding with formula, I even gave the SNS a serious try.  But still, it is just taking her forever to eat!  On the way home from the Lactation Consultant’s office, I had to pull over and feed her a 2-ounce bottle.  We were pulled over on the side of the road in the countryside of Duncan, SC for an hour, yes, in the minivan, and yes, with all the kids, and yes, without my husband.  Yes, it took her an HOUR to consume just two ounces.

Flutter sleeves

Meredith had used a new standard Assessment Tool for Breastfeeding Dyads, I remember this sheet.  That, combined with a visual assessment of Eloise’s mouth indicated she had not only a lip tie but also a significant tongue tie in an Eiffel Tower shape, meaning her tongue was attached to the floor of her mouth with a really wide band that stretched out to the left and right making an Eiffel Tower shape when you lifted the tongue up, instead of the string-like one most people have.  It also started about midway between the back of the mouth and the front, meaning she could not lift the back of her tongue up much at all.  Poor baby.  No wonder she had such a time nursing.

To make things more challenging, it was a posterior tie, meaning it starts at the back of the tongue, making it harder to see than the more obvious classic tongue tie that connects the front of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.  (Who knew there was so much variety in tongue ties? Turns out it’s not uncommon and the tongue can be attached in about as many ways as you can imagine.)  When her pediatrician checked Eloise for tongue tie, Eloise was sitting up in Geoff’s arms.  Her doctor used one finger to open the mouth and a tongue depressor to lift the tongue.  Though many types of tongue ties can be seen like this, Posterior ties cannot be detected this way.  To properly check for tongue tie, you must lay the baby on her back with her feet facing away from you.  Take gloved hands and put a finger on each side of the mouth to open it, then lift the tongue with a finger on each side.  Only this method will get the weight of the tongue out of the way (lying down) and this position will allow full control of the mouth (to keep it open) and using fingers to pull the tongue away from the floor of the mouth gives you flexibility to look and see what’s going on in there.  When our doctor used the tongue depressor it hid the shape of the tie completely by pressing it and making it look straight.  It also helps to have a light. Use a headlamp or have someone hold a penlight or flashlight for you.  It’s also helpful when you’re working with multiple caregivers to take a picture.

There is a disconnect in care between the training pediatricians receive and the role of lactation consultants and dentists.  The U.S. greatly needs some kind of an institution pushing for the education of pediatricians concerning this area and unification of care between pediatricians and the LCs and dentists.  There is mass misunderstanding of tongue ties among pediatricians simply because it isn’t part of their training; it’s more in the field of dentistry.  The result is that mothers are not referred to lactation consultants as often as they should be.  More infants than necessary become exclusively formula fed more often than necessary, more babies have feeding issues later, and more children have speech problems.

So around and about we went with this information, from Kathy at Pediatrics Unlimited, Meredith’s confirmation of Kathy’s original suspicion, and the slow eating rate.  And all the while we debated about whether surgery was the answer, we were living through hour-long cycles repeating every 2-3 hours around the clock of nursing, pumping, feeding the just-pumped milk via bottle, feeding formula via bottle, then washing it all and doing it all again in a couple hours.  And we were still doing birthday and Easter and kids and house and Geoff’s job.  It was clear that just feeding her more wasn’t the only answer.  She was also struggling to take it in no matter what or how we tried.  It had gotten to the point where our lactation consultant recommended we consider the Haberman Feeder. It only took us a couple days’ deliberation, though, once we had all the information, to make the difficult decision to have her tongue tie corrected with laser surgery.

bath sponge newborn

 

CORRECTING THE TONGUE TIE

Because of the size and complexity of Eloise’s tongue tie, it could not be corrected with a single snip.  It had to be released with a laser.  This is called a laser frenectomy.  I also wanted to go to someone who had a LOT of experience specifically in newborn tongue ties and specifically with using a laser.  For me, that person was Dr. McMurtry in Charlotte, NC.  I’d been told it was very difficult to get an appointment with him, so I tried booking an appointment with a lady in the Greenville area, but I had to wait until she returned from Spring Break with her kids, which meant nearly 3 weeks of waiting.  What could I do?  I put myself on her appointment book and braced to ride out the storm.

third child

A few nights later, with some charts a nurse gave me at the Table for Two Breastfeeding Support Group at Spartanburg Regional Hospital, I calculated that even at Eloise's maximum consumption rate (which was by bottle at that time and at 2 ounces per hour), and even if she consumed at that rate continuously (which is unrealistic because she also has to sleep and be changed and have awake non-eating time), she would only be able to maintain her weight, which means falling farther off the growth chart over time since babies are supposed to continually gain weight and grow.  And as they grow and move more they are supposed to need more to eat, so I also calculated that within about 7-10 days, her inability to grow her demand to meet her growing ability to move around would mean she would actually be losing weight and that dehydration and starvation were imminent possibilities in 2-3 weeks (i.e. hospitalization).

mad baby

I took a chance.  I set an alarm and got up at 7:00 am when I knew Dr. McMurtry’s office would open, and I called and asked the impossible.

Working with his office was wonderful.  I remember making the call and – my memory of this is crystal clear - having this heightened sense of everything around me – the weather, the budding trees, the fact that it was windy and cloudy when I made the call, the new day dawning on the cobwebs collecting in the storm window.  I think it just hit me, all of it, all at once.  Not just the exhaustion and aggregate emotional toll it had taken on me, not just the opportunity cost of the sweet times I’d missed with my older children, not just the massive time loss pumping, but mostly just the gravity and urgency of the situation.  This poor receptionist – I burst into tears trying to relay what we needed and the severity of Eloise’s situation.  After a brief hold, during which it seemed the entire history of the world flashed before my eyes, she told me if we could be there right at 7:00 am the next day, Dr. McMurtry would make time on his schedule to do both the consultation and procedure in one visit.  I would have fallen to the floor in exhausted gratitude had it not been for the steely nerves and adrenaline I was running on holding me upright.  I felt an elated relief and busy sort of mother-squirrel panic all at once as I spent the next 24 hours orchestrating this opportunity.

My generous and understanding friend Brantlee, whose son went to Kindergarten with Cannon, kept Cannon and Grace overnight and took them to school, where we would pick them up the next day at 1:00.  She also came over and helped me actually get them and their stuff out the door, since every spare second at this point is consumed with feeding the baby, nursing, pumping, bottle feeding, washing pump parts over and over and over and over and over.  Then she took the children and fed them and kept them all night, during which I spent the time collecting and organizing supplies for what we’d need at home to care for a freshly-surgered baby, as well as everything on our list that we’d need to take to Charlotte.  And I was still awake when it was time to make sure Geoff was up at 5 a.m.

When we arrived at Dr. McMurtry's office, Eloise had reached the most weak she would ever be again, faint and fading, limp motions, looking frail and tiny, but still so pleasant and happy.  I still remember her sweet little half-smile, gazing at her father’s face, just before they called us back.  She’d tried to reach out her arm to touch him, but she missed, and it fell back onto his arm.

sleeping baby

Dr. McMurtry was direct and reassuring with his confidence.  Everything went perfectly.  It’s not easy to hand over a really sweet freshly-created perfect little human to someone you just met to perform a procedure on them that will affect them the rest of their lives, like think, 80 or more years from now.  But I knew it was for the best and had complete confidence in him.  Dr. McMurtry got everything set up in a certain way and seemed to be getting “in the zone.”  We had to leave but I think we were allowed to watch from the door; I don’t remember.  I just remember being held by Geoff and the sound of the baby screaming.  Dr. McMurtry was calm, precise, accurate, and quick with the laser.  It was clear he had done this many, many times.  I know this sounds harsh, but it’s actually not; it’s like cauterizing, basically.  I’ve also heard the laser procedure described as “vaporization” or “ablation.”  It’s somehow (not sure the science behind it) zapped with laser pulses and it kind of just disappears, coagulating and healing as the tongue is released.  There is almost no blood at all, and the procedure itself is very short.  Even with Eloise’s complications, it was over in just a few minutes.  We were sent home with a sleepy baby, numbing gel, and instructions for stretches for her tongue multiple times a day.

I don’t remember picking up the children, and I think Brantlee brought them home for me a number of times through the following week.  That whole next week to ten days in early April was a bizarre combination of sweetness and screaming.  It was like reverting back to newborn mode again, in bed together most of the day, bathing together for her comfort, easing her pain with baby massage and the occasional Tylenol those first couple of days.  Every few hours - stretching her tongue.  Torture for 30 seconds, then a few hours of reprieve for us both.  Lots of babywearing, and holding her constantly, because remember, she still has the plagiocephaly, and I’m still paranoid about putting her down for any length of time.  We’d worked so hard making as much progress as we had with her torticollis and exercises and stretches, I had to preserve that progress until she was well enough to go back to physical therapy.  And even still with her tongue tie fixed, around the clock we sailed, on the merry-go-round of nursing, pumping, bottle, nursing, pumping, bottle.  I still remember waking up to pump at 3:10 a.m., only to find myself in a sticky puddle half an hour later when I fell asleep and let the bottles fall, still in my hands, with the pump still on.  It would take the full length of the recovery period and then some (about two weeks in all) to see any improvements in breastfeeding. 

frenectomy stretches

 

EPILOGUE

About three weeks after the tongue tie release, she quickly lessened her amount taken from bottles, then lessened the frequency with which she would take one after nursing.  By four weeks post-frenectomy, she did go back to the breast 100%, briefly.  Then about a week later, despite getting clearance to stop stretches, her tie healed back almost entirely as it was before, and we had to go through this entire procedure all over again.  The second surgery was on my birthday, in May.

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But it did take the second time and stayed.  We continued the stretches I think an extra month beyond what we did the first time.  I also found balance with pumping and decided to pump only when all the children were asleep, and to just power pump through the evening to make up for lost pumping time during the day.  With Geoff at work, I could not safely supervise a nearly-mobile baby, preschooler, and kindergartner during the day with them out of school.  Keeping pumping to twice a day really allowed me to return to a pace where I could show up and participate in my life.  I still wasn't able to do housework or cook, but I was able to sleep at least 6 hours a night and eat a couple meals a day.  I also started getting dressed every day and making sure each child got special time 1:1 with me every day, which improved the mounting behavioral problems that had developed during this difficult period.  Pumping only while they slept was an enormous improvement, and although it reduced the amount of breastmilk she was receiving, she was still getting all the benefits of breastfeeding nutrition, and she was still nursing directly some, too.  Another thing that helped bring me back normal life was starting solids early.  I have always been rigid in my belief about baby-led weaning and not starting solids until at least 6 months, but you know?  If the baby is leading you to put mushed up avocados in her mouth at 5 months when she needs to gain weight and your lactation consultant says it's a good idea, hey.  Break out the cute bibs, I say!  The more calories I could give her with solid food, the less formula she would need.

By June, the milk I could produce finally started to decline a bit, despite my religious regimen of magnesium, supplements, etc., but also possibly naturally due to starting solids.  I decided to give the SNS one more serious try.  I lasted a couple weeks with it, but I really needed medical tape to hold it in place. This sounds hard to believe (and in retrospect, I should have just Amazoned some), but I literally just could not get out the door and take everybody to the store for medical tape during the period I was trying this thing.  I am super stubborn, though, so I used regular tape (which didn't work well).  At the time, we also left for several weeks in Hawaii.  I even brought the SNS with me, including tiny cake pans to serve as my mini-soaking sinks so I could wash the capillary tubes while on planes. I learned that an SNS is something that you really want to have the hang of using before you try traveling with it, especially on an extended trip, especially with little kids and so much sunscreen.  I gave up on the SNS, enjoyed my trip to Hawaii, continued pumping at night, and nursing/milk bottles/formula bottles through the day.  That much I could handle.  My son's temper tantrums over sunscreen?  That was probably harder than the feeding issues at this point.

As fall wore on, we just continued with nursing/milk bottles/formula bottles/night pumping and things went well.  Milk supply dropped, but only little by little, and only slightly.  It never did go away entirely, and I was able to provide her a good supply each day (not all of it, but a good bit).  But at the end of January, well after she'd turned one, I decided to let pumping go and just nurse and formula feed when necessary.  Besides, now she was not only on solids, she was ready for milk at the table!  

As for the torticollis, I did go back to physical therapy, and we tried and tried and tried with it, but she was only progressing so far and they were recommending her for a helmet.  She honestly was only right on the verge of needing one with a 1 cm difference between the diameter of her head from the southwest to northeast quadrant vs the southeast to northwest quadrant, and she'd only been going there about 6 weeks when they recommended one.  I decided that not only were the feeding issues more pressing, but that her plagiocephaly was showing improvement.  I was willing to take the risk for the sake of her not having to endure the life-quality-altering helmet 23 hours a day, especially after all she went through with feeding.  We did, however, continue with PT until the spaces between recommended visits became longer and longer and eventually we didn't need to go back.

I ended up taking her to a chiropractor (the only one I knew of), but unfortunately, he did not specialize in infants.  But it was taking her here that taught me there is such a thing as a pediatric chiropractor.  (Who knew?)  I took her to see Dr. Jared Dreckman of Dreckman Family Chiropractic, which was in the same office as Meredith (our LC), in Simpsonville.  We came every week for 6 weeks, and by the end of the 6 weeks, her torticollis was resolved, thanks to him.  I was blown away by this.  I wasn't sure if this would work or just be one more thing on the list of things we tried that didn't work, but this certainly did the trick.  Eloise has not had any neck stiffness since completing her therapy with him and gained full rotation and tilt without pain.

That's the thing about babies...they do grow out of being babies, for better or worse.  That day at 10 weeks when she was labeled with "Failure to Thrive" - the thing is, 10 weeks is just 6 weeks shy of 4 months, when it's possible to consider some kind of solid feeding in situations like this.  And only 8 more weeks away from full-on ready-for-solids age.  And 6 months quickly turns to 6 more months.  If you're going through this right now - remember - it's not forever!  Soon this thing that's consuming your life will be a brief period of time in your past.  And you'll have other things to deal with, like sunscreen fits.  ;)

Easter sky

This whole experience with failure to thrive and feeding challenges gave me 100% compassion for everyone out there feeding infants in every situation.  Mom letting a toddler have juice out of a bottle at the mall?  Nope, no judgment from me.  That child could be drinking medicine, could be just trying to stay hydrated, they could be just coming off being sick and are at the mall because they were all going stir-crazy.  Maybe that was a bribe or a treat or the linchpin holding the parent’s patience together after an exhausting month. You just never, ever, ever know someone’s situation.  But at least now you know mine.  Writing all this out has been very therapeutic for me to help process everything that happened.  But if you’re reading this now because you’re going through some portion of this, too, I hope this is helpful. 

This is what I saw.