If you’re a mom, your ultimate fear is that you are somehow unfit to parent. You’re scared that your mom skills just won’t cut it and somehow you are not doing the best you can for the children you brought into this world. A lot of the time, this fear is ridiculous and obviously if you’re worrying about not doing enough, you’re already doing plenty more than others. The mere fact that you worry means that you care and are rocking the job more than you know. But when a medical professional says enough about your poor parenting to have your fears confirmed, it’s downright crippling. Two weeks ago I was in agony over the fact that I was professionally considered a bad mom.
For those who don’t know, our girls turned one on June 11. Woohoo! Their first birthday. We could not believe how fast the last year went by and how strong we were to have survived it. With this major milestone came the one year check-up with their pediatrician. To say it did not go well is a drastic understatement.
Upon arrival, our girls were measured and weighed as usual by the nurse. She gathered the stats and let us know that the girls lost weight since their last exam three months ago. Okay. We were a little shocked since they visibly grew and were now fitting into larger clothing, but we figured it would be up for discussion as to why once we saw the doctor. The nurse passed off their information to the doc and told us to wait.
No sooner did the girls’ doctor walk through that door did she start to verbally attack us. She said that she was not happy to see those numbers and gave us shit over their decreased weights. We were also unhappy to hear about the weight loss, but we had no idea it was as awful as she was claiming it to be.
Almost immediately I entered defence mode with her harsh questioning and remarks, being equally aggressive in my answers. She was making me legit pissed. Then she dropped a bomb on us that I’m not sure we’ll ever recover from. She threatened to call CAS. We could not even believe the words she uttered.
I backed down instantly and listened to her condescending and heartbreaking words. Their weight loss could lead to developmental issues. Their brains can stop growing. We couldn’t even believe we had put our girls in such jeopardy. She made us feel like the worst parents in the world and we believed that we were.
I broke down crying as she asked us questions about their diet. We let her know what and how much we fed them. Our meal and snack choices were great and she was surprised by this information. SURPRISED. She didn’t even care that we were feeding them so much. And trust me, we do. They gobble up so much food you’d THINK they were starving. They eat more than other babies, hands down. For whatever reason, the period between their nine month and one year visit they had dropped a little weight.
Well, we have a reason. And to this, we’re guilty. In an effort to wean our girls off of formula and replace the calories with food, we had diluted their formula with water so that they would eat more food and require less formula. This was working. This was done without our doctor’s consent, as we a) believed it was a smart choice, and b) did not know we had to consult the doctor in such matters (being first time parents and all). We had intended to work towards replacing it with fatty milk and was going to discuss this with the doctor at this appointment. When she learned about what we had done, she went off. She criticized us in a way that made us feel stupid and incompetent to parent and diluting formula was the most sinful thing we could have done for our children. This, it turns out, was why they were not gaining weight.
Let me take this moment to add more to the story. The reason we had diluted the milk in the first place (aside from weaning) was because the girls had been frequently vomiting in the night when we started feeding them more meal portions, snacks, as well as bottles of formula for their naps and bedtime. This reaction, we assumed, was because they were just eating way too much and that their stomachs couldn’t handle the extra calories. They suffered from reflux in the past and we knew that their stomachs were a little iffy at times. It was only then that we made the decision that it was time to wean.
When the doctor left the room, the both of us had broken down in horrendous sobs, fearful for our girls and feeling like the worst parents in the world. The nurse came in to comfort us and later admitted that the doctor told her that she was too harsh on us. I guess so.
This day was the worst we’ve ever experienced. I’d take late night vomits and explosive shits any day to not have to live through that torture again.
After recovering from our breakdowns and regaining some composure, our emotions quickly turned from defeated and grief-stricken to anger.
HOW DARE SHE TREAT US THIS WAY. We have the best of intentions for our girls and do everything we can to keep them healthy and happy. We worry about them constantly, protecting them and ensuring they always are in a safe environment. We always put their needs first and I can honestly say that we are doing the absolute best we can in making decisions that we believe is right for our daughters. We would never intentionally endanger their health, let alone intentionally underfeed them. And again I must say, we DO NOT underfeed them. There could have been so many reasons for the weight loss and it may not even be strictly because of the diluted formula.
Since their nine month visit, they’ve become WAY more active, crawling and even walking, and therefore burning more calories. They’ve also experienced their first virus (which can halt the growth of babies) and have been teething like crazy, causing them to refuse food at times. Not only that, but it’s common for babies to not gain weight, or even lose weight, between these two visits. All of this is new information to us, as we’ve consulted with other medical professionals and family members on the subject. All of this research just further fuels the fire within us over the doctor’s lack of understanding, empathy, or desire to come to any other conclusion other than that we were behaving like neglectful parents.
Aside from all the potential reasons for the slight drop in weight, they are both visibly healthy and happy girls. Their bones are not protruding from their skin. They do not look in any way malnourished, and they’re developing just fine. They are smart and curious and perfect.
As parents, we may not be perfect all the time, but we’re certainly not bad. And we’ve quickly learned that no one, not even a doctor, has the right to make us feel the way we did or have us question ourselves as parents.
We have began feeding the girls milk and fattier foods, as the doctor ordered. However, we will not be going back to that insensitive, offensive person ever again.
We are not at fault and we are not stupid. We live with our daughters and see how they behave and function every day. We know what’s best for them, usually. And when we don’t, well, that’s when we get the help from the doctor or someone else who knows more about babies than we do.
It’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, but that is only true if everyone is supportive and understanding of one another. While we needed to hear that they required more fat, we did not need to be threatened with CAS, been talked down to, or made to believe that we were putting our girls at risk.
This really sucks to share because it hurts me so much to admit that we had made even one mistake when it came to our girls. But I’ve accepted (even with my perfectionist tendencies) that people, including parents, make mistakes and it’s not anyone’s right to criticize you for making them, especially when your intentions are true and involve matters of your heart.