31 for 21: F is for Failure to Thrive

When Hannah was 8 weeks old we received another diagnosis. A diagnosis that I felt personally responsible for.

Failure to thrive.

A nutritionist, a complete stranger to us, looked at Hannah’s health as a series of numbers and decided that the numbers weren’t good enough. Her math showed that Hannah was only gaining a few grams of weight a day, instead of the 20-30 gram daily target. As the sole provider of Hannah’s nourishment I took this diagnosis to mean I was failing too.  

I cried in the nutritionist’s office. I was embarrassed, frustrated, and confused.

24 hours earlier the cardiologist told me that Hannah looked great, and though her weight gain wasn’t perfect, it was acceptable. She suggested meeting with the nutritionist to get a second opinion. It was an opinion I didn’t want. She was aware of the challenges Hannah’s diagnoses caused, but she didn’t experience them.

She didn’t understand I was trying my best. She didn’t understand I loved breastfeeding Hannah but sometimes she drank too much too quickly and would end up throwing it all up. She didn’t understand the harder I tried to wake Hannah up to eat, the harder Hannah fought to keep sleeping. She didn’t understand Hannah was sleeping through the night, and there was a small window in the wee hours of the morning when she’d sometimes accept a sleepy bottle. She didn’t understand I woke up every morning at 1 am to feed Hannah, even if she only took an ounce.

None of it seemed to be enough. She wanted me to do more, which consequently meant less breastfeeding. For a mother who felt she had no control over anything happening to her daughter, this was incredibly hard to hear.

Thankfully, the pediatrician and visiting nurses were on our team and able to calm me down. The nutritionist was looking at one aspect of Hannah’s health. In the big picture she was doing well because she was eating what she could, not losing weight, and maintaining small gains. Hannah was thriving in her own little way. 

Post surgery Hannah loves her bottles!
Post surgery Hannah loves her bottles!

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