Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Truth About Newborns

It's official. . . my babies do not like to eat.

Isn't that crazy??? All babies are born wanting to eat. . . at least, that's what I always thought. I went through all this with Kirsten already. . . she lost weight, didn't regain her birth weight fast enough, and I had to pump and try to get as much milk in her as we could. With Natalie, it's even worse! On breast milk, she just kept losing weight. She was born weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces, and at her 1 week doctor's visit she was down to 7 pounds 1 ounce. A whole pound less is a lot for such a little baby, and it has been stressful. She doesn't want to eat. . . she just wants to sleep!
Here's a rundown of why I feel so worried about Natalie all the time:

*She's on formula now, and she'll only take 1 ounce of it at a time. Sometimes she'll take a little more, but sometimes only half an ounce. Because she takes in such a small amount, we're supposed to feed her every hour and a half to two hours. Sometimes she wakes up hungry for it on her own, but the majority of the time we have to wake her up and force her to eat. Force-feeding a newborn a ton of times a day is hard!

*She has a really hyper-active gag reflex, and tends to spit up a lot of what she does eat. We have to keep her upright for a long time after each feeding, and we haven't been able to lay her down on her back very much at all. At her last weight check yesterday, the pediatrician recommended we add more powder to the formula to make it higher in calories. We tried that, and she was throwing up almost ALL of it. So last night we switched back to the regular formula, and she's been keeping it down much better. But it's still a constant struggle to get her to actually keep down what she does eat.

*The first day we put her on formula, she went a really long time with no wet diapers. She was also being really lethargic and sleeping constantly. At 3 am I called the on-call nurse at the doctor's, and the nurse was really worried and thought we should call 911 and have them take Natalie to the emergency room. She asked me a ton of questions about her and thankfully Natalie wet a diaper while I was on the phone with the nurse. So the nurse said we could wait and take her to our pediatrician in the morning, and then she ended up having several more wet diapers that morning. It was a scary night though, and I was so worried about her.

*Since we put her on formula, she's gained a little bit of weight back, but only a very small amount. As of yesterday, she weighed 7 pounds 2 and a half ounces. She'll go in for another weight check on Monday, and we are really hoping she'll gain a good amount over the weekend. She's been awake and alert more often, and seems to be doing better overall. I hope it continues!
All the blog posts I read from moms with newborns are so sweet and happy, full of only positive things and about how wonderful it is to have a beautiful new baby. But gosh. . . having a newborn is the hardest thing I've ever done. I think I forgot a little bit how difficult it was, and how exhausting it can be to worry so much about a fragile little baby. Kirsten is so easy now compared to a newborn. It's much easier to deal with the temperament of an almost-2-year-old than to feel the weight of the responsibility to keep a brand new baby alive and healthy. I know that other people have a challenging time with newborns too, but sometimes it feels like it's just me.

I have no idea why both of my babies don't want to eat, and can't gain weight on my breast milk. It's really frustrating, and I wish it didn't have to be this way. Natalie seemed to be latching on and sucking really well, and there was no way to know that she was losing weight until we saw the scale. It worries me to no end when I wake her up and she refuses the bottle, or takes only half an ounce of milk and then refuses to eat more. She's so sweet. . . I just want her to EAT!

Here are some pictures from her first sponge bath, one week ago. We had to wake her up for it, so she wasn't really too happy and started crying towards the end of the sponge bath.
At first she seemed to enjoy the warm water.
But she got more upset when we got her hair wet.
After the bath. . . all clean and wrapped up.
She was much happier after we got her dressed and put a blanket around her.
This is her grumpy face. . . the "don't wake me up and try to feed me" face. She does look pretty annoyed.
Sleeping SO peacefully.
I haven't gotten a picture of it, but I love watching her smile or laugh in her sleep. Her little smile is completely adorable.
I'm so grateful that we have Natalie, and of course everything we do is one hundred percent worth it. But gosh. . . nobody really tells you how hard this can be sometimes.


  1. Thanks for the warning! jk Little Natalie will be in our prayers. You are such a wonderful mommy. :0)

  2. Ashley... you are so right. Newborn babies are really *stressful* and i dont mean that in a bad way... i know YOU know what i mean. and when there is anything that is not going quite right, then it is TRIPLE STRESSFUL. i am glad you are not just taking it lightly... and that you did call the Doctor/Nurse. that shows that you really really love your baby and take Mothering seriously.
    that shows a LOT about your character, Ashley. I totally respect you for that.
    lots of mommas out there will just say things like--"oh.. i'm not worried about it.... and "she will be ok"... and "she will eat when she is hungry"....
    but i am like you. i would be concerned.
    you poor thing. i know you must be having such a hard time right now.. juggling a new baby & your toddler.
    i really do wish i lived closer to you and i would LOVE to help you out!!!!!!!!!!!!
    you & Natalie are in my prayers, Ashley.

    {{{BIG HUGS to you}}}

  3. It IS really, really hard to take care of newborns. I totally feel for you. Sam wouldn't gain weight on my breastmilk either. It sounds like you are doing all that you can, though, so I'm sure Natalie will be fine. You sound like an awesome mom.

  4. I'm so sorry that you're having to go through all of this. Ethan was low birth weight and then lost weight, so we had a horrible time with his feedings at first, but not as bad as you do with this little one! I hope she starts waking up and eating and keeping the food down soon. You will be in my prayers!

  5. This sounds a lot like what we went through with Hannah. Her problem was not so much with sleeping, though, as it was with never burping, taking forever at each feeding, and always spitting up {it seemed like} everything she'd just eaten. Keeping an infant well-nourished and healthy IS so hard!! Our Ped. ended up advising us to start H on solids at 4 months old and to give her the high-fat version of every food she ate.

    Good luck with little Natalie!

  6. I do hope she gains weight soon!

    This post makes me baby hungry :o( I can't wait till I have one!

  7. At least she knows where her fingers are??? Gosh, it sounds like you have your hands full at the moment. But really, STRESSING out will only end up in a bad way, so do please try to keep a little bit cool! :) Isn't motherhood HARD??? But I know you're doing great; even when you worry and call the doctor, it's to make sure your babies are safe and sound. Good for you!
    My kids never liked the boob either; they weaned pretty early. I think it's more common than we're supposed to think. Yeah yeah, breast is best, but if your kid's not eating, then what??? They are a freak of nture and don't deserve the best attention? I think not, La Leche League! :)

  8. It is hard, I agree. My first was a preemie and had to eat every 3 hours. That was hard enough, I can't imagine having to feed one every hour and a half! Hang in there. It will get better. Fingers crossed for a good weigh-in tomorrow!

  9. Oh, sending big hugs!!! This must be a real struggle, and I'm so sorry! Newborns are so fragile and sweet, you just want everything to be perfect. We'll keep her & you & Stephen in our prayers, too. Too bad you can't reattach that umbilical cord to get some nutrients in her. ;)

    A newborn who really wants to sleep is HARD to wake up. I remember trying to wake David when he didn't want to, and there was no getting those eyes open! Isn't it weird? One would think prying eyelids open would get you some reaction, but no. Stripping him down, no. Dancing and wiggling him, no...

    GOOD LUCK!!!!

  10. My kids both hated breast feeding too but also, BOTH had a hard time staying awake to eat. I knew they had to eat and I didn't want to feed them ALL DAY so here is what I did...
    *Get them naked when they eat
    *Tickle their feet
    *Rub lotion on their tummies while they eat
    *Tickle their head with your fingers

    It make sound cruel, but it wakes them up and they start eating. They don't like being cold so they wake up and eat. Tickling them makes them squirm so they wake up too.

    Hopefully you can find something that works, it's scary when babies lose weight like that!!!!!! Good luck!! Call me during a nap sometime and we can chat about it!

  11. So sorry things are tough right now. Man, I remember that first few weeks -- almost a year ago now. It's so exhausting and it IS stressful. Sending lots of happy thoughts your way!

  12. I'm just catching up with my blogging buddies! Congrats on your newborn - I'm sure she'll turn around with the food and be fine in the end. So you know, we're thinking Natalie also - our little one should be here within the next two weeks! Too fun!

  13. Wow, I am glad she has such good parents to keep track of her and her eating schedule! I guess it's good to hear the truth about newborns. I can imagine they have some pretty crazy challenges!

  14. So so so so hard and stressful. I don't know how to make it better besides just waiting it out. You know it gets better, but in the mean time, it is ridiculous! I'm sorry friend.

  15. I'm so sorry about this - I'll keep you in my prayers!. And she's the cutest thing I've ever seen in spite of the challenges!!

    BTW - did I ever say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Ashley I am so sorry that you are having a hard time. Trust me I know what you are going through. we have had some stress at our house lately!!! PLEASE let me know if you need ANYTHING. Even if you and your husband need a nap and I need to come hold Natalie, let me know. I make good dinners too:) Has your doctor thought of acid reflex? Lisa Bennetts baby had that and would spit up almost evrything she ate. As soon as our Ped. put her on medicine for it she started gaining weight. She might not be eating because it hurts too much! Just a thought!! Good Luck!

  17. Hey- I was just thinking about you today and wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and the baby and am hoping that the feeding/sleeping is going better. Internet hugs to you!

  18. girl. i SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hear ya.

    it IS stressful honey. so stressful. and i am right there with ya.

    and the feeding thing was REALLY hard for us the second time around too. we switched to formula after several angie-mini-nervous-breakdowns....hahaha....

    motherhood is the most rewarding amazing experience. but pretty much everyday i think..."geez, this is so hard!"

    my point: you're not alone.

    and ps: your baby is gorgeous! congratulations to you & your sweet family.

    *may we both get at least a few hours/minutes of sleep tonight! hahaha!

  19. She's a cutie!! I'm praying that she starts eatin'!

  20. It really is alot of work to take care of a new born. Wish I could help you. I had a baby do this, I know how stressful it can be. It will get better soon. Sending prayers your way.

  21. Hello Sweetie!
    What adorable precious little ones!

    Have you tried loud music to wake
    her up, or vacumming? or ice cubes on her feet and/or hands, arms?
    The ice cubes worked with a couple of mine.

    Are YOU drinking enough liquid???
    Eat plain as YOU can to prevent spit-ups too.
    Try different brands of formula.
    (Some they are more sensitive to.)

    Son no. #3 is putting his mission papers in this week!!!
    Talk about nerves...
    Son #2 is doing good on his mission!
    So I'll have 2 out at the same time!

    Spring finals are this week!

    Then I'll do some recieving blankets for your little one!

    Keep kissing and hugging your little ones and keep spoiling your husband too!

    Love always,


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