Feed the Babies

In one of last posts, I mentioned how babies #1-3 all gained weight well, and babies #4-6 have thrown a couple of curveballs my way. (This post has cuter pics, tho.)

One curveball was my inability to feed them as I had always been able to before. I’m talking about breastfeeding. There, I said it. 

You still with me? Good. 

How about a picture of a not-breastfeeding baby? 

 

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I never questioned how I would feed him. It never occured to me that I could opt to not breastfeed him. Added benefit was that money was tight and we wouldn’t have to buy bottles or formula… but that didn’t occur to me until after I had made my decision.

After Daniel, my 4th child, my husband (who is a carpenter) began working 12 hour shifts, at a location an hour’s drive away, 13 days out of every 14. (That’s 15 hours a day away, with only every other Sunday off… Even when he was home, he promptly took a shower, ate dinner, and went straight to bed. Not exactly helpful for relief from the stresses of raising four young children).

From 4 to 5 months, toward the end of the crazy work schedule, Daniel only gained 4 ounces. From 5 to 6 months, he lost an ounce. Not huge numbers, but enough to know that something was up. That something was that I was losing my milk supply, most likely from the stress of basically single-handedly raising 4 children ages 4 and under.

Phoebe, baby #5, made it through the 4/5 month period without losing weight, and I was relieved that nothing was “wrong with me” again. But from her 6-month well check to her 9-month well check, she stayed the same height (25.5 inches) but she went from 16 pounds 10 ounces to 15 pounds 5 ounces. Not encouraging at all.

Ezekiel (baby #6), went from 3 months to 5 months (because… Busy mama forgot to schedule the 4 month) and lost 12 ounces. Who knows what the 4 month well-check would have shown. 

Well-checks aren’t just for vaccinations, people. I thank God for those well-checks because I probably would not have noticed the weight loss until they were well on their way to starving to death.
By 6 months (only 1 month of not breastfeeding), Ezekiel had gained 13 ounces and was back on track as the good doctor showed me the curve and where he fell on it.

I know, and genreally agree with, the notion that “breast is best,” although I feel silly telling people that. What is really best is feeding your baby in a way that fits with your family. Obviously, eating out at McDonalds every day because ‘you’re a family on the move and the dollar menu is cheap and everyone likes it’ isn’t what I mean by that, so there are some ways that are better than others… But don’t beat yourself up because you do something other than the doctor-recommended method.

One thing I remember reading, I believe from one of the ladies who write the blog at feminagirls (years ago when ibwas new to the parenting thing), is that there are principles and there are methods. The principle is that mamas feed their babies. The method could be breastfeeding, formula feeding, or homemade-formula feeding. 

Maybe there are even other options out there. Like starting baby cereal at 4 months or 6 months or one year. (FYI, I start at 6 months) Or breastfeeding, to some degree, until age 4 (My goal has always been 12 months). 

I’m sure everyone (mother/parent or not) has opinions on all of those things, and you are entitled to your opinion. But you shouldn’t (dare I say “can’t”) force your opinion on others. (I realize that is my opinion… But you are not forced to keep reading.) You do what works for you, and maybe offer advice if asked for, but don’t be outraged by someone not doing what you do, because they are not you.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to build back up your supply, you know it is not easy. If I breastfeed, then offer a bottle, somehow more and more of the bottle is taken and less and less from the breast. So, I didn’t try to kill myself by sleep deprivation to pump. Yet, my babies have never tasted store-bought formula either. 

Cow’s milk is a big no-no for people under age 1, but goat’s milk is most like human milk, with no known allergies. Even adults who are lactose intolerant can have goat’s milk. But for an infant, plain goat’s milk is not enough. Added to the fact that it’s naturally deficient in vitamin B12 and folic acid, goat milk is only the base for a make-your-own baby formula.

Mt. Capra (as in capra-corn… Get it?) makes a delightful powdered-goat milk that I used as the base, and if you subscribe to their emails, they will share their formula recipe. (Although I got it from a friend before subscribing to them).

And thanks to bottle feeding, I could enjoy a nice Cosmopolitan, with raspberry vodka, at Easter.

*Side note: the brain is made of fat, so consuming fat is critical to brain development in those early months and years of life outside the mama. Also, the typical amount of protein in the ratio for making pure goat milk using the powder would be a bit much for one so small as a baby. So the formula isn’t some super-secret ingredients, but just ratios tweaked enough to be best for what a baby needs.

A week ago, I changed my last size 3 diaper. Ezekiel, at 7 months, is in the same size diaper as Phoebe, who will be 2 in August. Both of them are on track, and doing great! And that is a relief for this breastfeeding mama who was unable to breastfeed as long as expected.

The Cure for Cradle Cap

***Note: I just figured out how to upload pictures in my posts… Which I have been wanting to do before posting about this. So Sorry if it’s picture-heavy. And they’re not pretty photos either, so reader beware.***

My first 3 babies were (are) carbon copies of each other (aside from the obvious difference of the first being a boy and the second and third being girls). They nursed well, packed on the pounds in an exponential fashion, and they met milestones as expected, with zero hitches. My first baby was easy, my girls are slightly higher maintenance, but nothing too bad (yet), but my fourth, fifth, and sixth babies have thrown a few curveballs my way… Nothing major, I’d still say they were “easy,” but we have had a few hiccups that I simply did not have to deal with during my first three go-arounds.

Ezekiel (baby #6) is currently six months old, and finally recovering from cradle cap that has plagued him for the past 3 months.

It was terrible. A thick scale-like ‘cap’ covered his scalp. It started out patchy, but it quickly spread to cover the entire top of his head (oddly not the sides).

At first, I tried the “cure” that worked with my previous 5 babies… Baby oil rubbed in after a bath. One time of this procedure had always worked before, but not so with Zeke. 

I am slightly interested in using essential oils, so I asked a more experienced friend what she suggested. Lavender oil, practically a cure-all in the world of oils, is a tried-and-true cradle cap cure for others, so I mixed some in coconut oil and slathered that mixture on Zeke’s head with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

For 3 weeks, I applied it at least once (sometimes twice) and what you may expect to happen happened: his poor little head would bleed where the soft bristled brush had brushed away the scaley skin. (Very very slight bleeding, but still nothing a mother likes to see her baby go through, much less be the one to cause such a thing to happen.) Not only was the lavender oil NOT working, but he started to lose what little hair he had; the skin on his head was getting too thick for the hair to come through.

At his 5 month check-up, with no discernable difference in the apperance of his cradle cap, his doctor prescribed a steroid cream. In general, I am not a fan of medicine, my disdain stems from how people turn to it unnecessarily before trying simpler, natural, cures… but since my “natural” cures weren’t working, now was the time to go for stronger stuff. I started applying that every morning, and the lavender oil every evening.




Olivia, who is 4 (child #3) would constantly be grossed out by Zeke having “skin on his head” (if I may interpret for you, she disliked the skin that seemed to be flaking off his head… I think she realizes everyone has skin covering their skull). It didn’t seem to bother him any, although there occasionally were scratches on his scalp, so maybe it did itch a bit…? He didn’t complain, at any rate; he’s the strong silent type. 😉

After about a week of that, with still no relief from the cradle cap, I ditched the steroid (because why continue a medicine that clearly isn’t working?) and was ready to give up trying to cure it and hope he’d just grow out of it… But smart phones + boredom lead to random Google searches.

Finally! Trusty Google revealed the common cause of cradle cap: there is a build up of oil secreted in the hair follicles that were preventing the old skin cells from falling off. The cure was not what I expected: daily washing of the “hair” (which makes sense to me) followed by application of more oil (that seemed to me counter-intuitive, but who am I to question Google?). The washing would clear away the oil buildup, and the reapplication of oil would help prevent it from building up again… Or something. For fear of drying out his sensitive skin, I am not in the habit of daily bathing babies… One or two times a week is my standard, unless a diaper explosion or something else necessitates immediate bathing. But armed with baby lotion for his body and coconut oil/lavender oil for his head, I was willing to give it a try.

After two weeks of these daily baths, there is a discernable difference in what his head looks like. His hair is regrowing, and his scalp looks much healthier. I can’t imagine applying oil over longer hair (if he were older, as I read some cases with older toddlers), but at his age, this was just the treatment he needed! 

None of us are grossed out by his head anymore, the young kiddos can kiss his head without fear they’d catch whatever disease was on his head (because…kid-logic), his hair is regrowing soft and fuzzy, and he is still my happiest baby. 

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31