Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feeling like a failure :(

So we all know that bfing was a major struggle at the beginning. I was seriously on the verge of giving up because of how painful it was. Well, now it's a breeze; completely painless...except, breastmilk is pretty much the only thing my kid will eat.

BIG PROBLEM! Why? She is unbelievably anemic. So anemic that her hemoglobin levels are half of what they should be and the doctor said that if Mirabel's levels had just randomly dropped to where they are now, she'd need a trasfusion.

I tried giving her that nasty ferinsol, but she has such a sensitive gag reflex that she makes herself throw up if she doesn't like the way something tastes. She even throws up on those strawberry and vanilla flavored toddler drinks! I am so desperate. I've tried making the baby food myself, buying those gourmet organic ones, etc., but all she eats is cheese and blueberries (ok, maybe other fruits but that is it!). I even tried disguising the iron in chocolate breastmilk. Yes, I pumped and added chocolate syrup to my milk. I also tried grape juice. Jose taste-tested that one and he said the grape juice disguised the flavor well, but Mirabel still gagged on it???!!!

The doctor said I have to work on weaning her. I have tried a lot. Seriously, this kid is unbelievably stubborn. I will offer her food instead of milk but she just shakes her head no and turns her head away. Then she screams and screams. We've even tried taking her outside. Sometimes she will accept some food, but she will only eat up to a certain point and then cry and cry until I nurse her.

I know I'm not the only one who's struggled with a toddler who doesn't like solids, but I've never met anyone whose toddler relies primarily on breastmilk for their nutrients. And breastmilk hardly has any iron.

I found a natural iron supplement. I'm going to give it a try; iherb says it's tasty (well, the customers do). I'm just praying it passes the Mirabel taste test.

I feel like a failure for many reasons. The first one is that I had really bad anemia when I was pregnant. I took the iron supplements, but I didn't start taking them until well into the pregnancy, when my levels were already so low I had issues just walking down the street without feeling like passing out. It also gave me horrible stomachaches. I did take it anyway, and thankfully my levels were normal at the end of the pregnancy, but still, I'm sure my anemia took its toll on her little body. The other thing, I don't know why breastfeeding has always brought so many problems!!!! I know formula is iron-enriched, and I don't know a formula fed baby who hates food. Yes, I realize the benefits of breastfeeding are long term, but if it's so natural and wonderful then why does it have to be so challenging? And why does it not contain enough iron?!

I really needed to get this off my chest (no pun intended :P). I am just so anxious and worried. I'm praying this supplement helps, because I don't want Mirabel to have to suffer :(. God forbid that her levels drop any further and she needs a trasfusion or suffers cognitive delays :(.


Anonymous said...

Friend I am so SORRY! This is a very challenging situation and I am sorry that I may not have any great tips or ideas.

Does Mirabel like to use bottles? The way that I weaned Elijah was very slowly by mixing small amounts of whole milk with his bottle. Do you think switching to only pumping and using a bottle will help? Maybe she needs to get use to getting food/milk from something other than you.

I will definitely be praying for you and for Mirabel. Nothing is more stressful than something not being right with your baby. But please know you are not a failure. Some things are just beyond our control. I know you are trying your hardest to do what is right. Mirabel is the Lord's. He knows what is wrong and He will help. Just keep praying and trying what comes to your mind. God gave you Mirabel and you are the best mother for her to have.

Thanks for sharing.

Sophie said...

Thanks for that comment :)'s exactly what I needed to hear/be reminded of right now. xo

Sarah said...

My advice is very similar to the first one. Just keep praying. I've never heard of this issue before, but I did have a friend who had to stop breast feeding immediately because she had to have surgery. Her little girl was a year as well and hated solid foods, hated bottles, pretty much just nursed. The advice the doctor gave her was, "she'll eat it if she's hungry enough." It sounds just awful, but she had no choice. After the first 24 hours of tears from everyone, she ate. She ate everything; food, a bottle, EVERYTHING. I think you have to do what's best, (and I'm not saying that you should do this, obviously you'd have to check with doc and if it's not what you feel to do, don't) but as hard it was for my friend to watch, it ended up being the best for everyone. I think we hate putting them through anything, but this will pass. God will work this through, just give it ALL to Him.

Amanda said...

No, no, no, you are not a failure! This is not you're fault. All kids go at their own pace. She likes mom's milk, that's a good thing! You'll get this remedied.

First, I'm wondering if your ped told you to give her vitamin drops since birth because I'm surprised that getting her to take drops is such a problem if she had been. It's recommended that all breastfed babies take vitamin D supplements. Most babies take Tri-vi-sol or generic. We had to get the prescription kind for Michael since we don't have fluoridated water here. Then when Michael was a year he was a little anemic so we switched to the ones prescription Poly-vi-sol (with the fluoride). We learned quickly that some drops taste better than others, so definitely try other brands. I would think that the Poly-vi-sol would taste better than Fer-i-sol to begin with... anything to dilute out that iron flavor. But definitely try other brands. And if by chance she'll eat spinach baby food, that would be good for her. Michael liked this stuff (

If the liquid supplements fail you might trying giving her a chewable vitamin. We started Michael on flintsones a couple of months ago. He just got altogether sick of drops. It takes him a while be he sucks on them like a piece of candy. Just one warning: messy drool, possible staining.

And on the food, we have definitely had problems getting Michael to take solids. I won't go into our specific issues (they were mostly textural) but we found that he did really like certain foods and even though they weren't the healthiest foods they served as gateway foods that we could expand on. His favorite food is pasta with marinara sauce. I started with tiny little pasta noodles and worked our way to larger ones. We got him to try different sauces. He got to liking the foods so we tried other foods. He's a decent eater, we still have our issues but he eats a decent variety. If Mirabel isn't liking purees, maybe skip them and feed her what you are eating. I don't think it's a coincidence that Michael's favorite foods are my favorite foods too. Just of patience and persistence and experimenting pays off here. I still dread mealtimes a little, but the definitely do get better.

Also, are you still taking an iron supplement. I don't know if studies have shown it makes a difference or not, but I quit my supplement after Michael was a couple of months old and I started feeling anemic. Since there is iron in breastmilk it makes since that there was still an extra drain on my body and it might help us both if I kept with my supplement. He was a little anemic at a year but I thought that was pretty good because he got very little iron from his diet.

And lastly, do not beat yourself up for breastfeeding. I'm like you, I have constantly doubted weather I'm actually doing the best thing for Michael by bfing him. But that's not fair to do to yourself. It probably has caused problems that we would have had if he was a formula baby (the whole bottle refusal and not eating at daycare... that stuff killed me) but if I had formula fed him and he got diagnosed with ADHD or got sick all the time (which he did) or what ever, I'd probably blame myself for feeding him formula. Plus you can't beat the bonding. Breastfeeding has plenty of wonderful benefits, but it doesn't matter because you are doing what you hope is best for her and loving her and that is the best you can do. You're a good mom, you're doing good for her. You'll get this fixed.

Sophie said...

Hey Amanda,

We used to give her the tri-vi-sol in her bottle (wayyy back when she actually took bottles) then when she stopped accepting the bottle, she would gag when I tried to give it to her directly in the syringe. She's always been super picky :/. Thankfully the one thing she truly enjoys eating is cheese! I've personally always gotten sick with iron; the doctor checked my levels after Mirabel was born, and since they were fine at that point I was told I could stop taking it.

Thank you for the encouragement. You are so right, I would probably be blaming myself for something else if I'd formula fed her.

The Librarian said...

Wow, you have had great comments so far so I don't know if I can add anymore. Just know that you are not a failure. I have heard other mothers complain about breasfeeding and eventually just do formula. My sister and I were formula babies and we turned out just fine (I think...). If Mirabel is not getting the nutrients she needs it may be best to change something. But, again, go with more experienced people. :)

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