Before I begin I need to say that this is still a hard and painful subject of our past to talk about. As I prepared and cropped the photos for this post I had to fight back tears. The purpose of my sharing is to inform and enlighten unaware parents that may be in a similar situation of what we faced.
I also want to offer words of encouragement that just because you are unaware doesn’t mean you are a negligent or horrible parent. For a long time I felt this way, but slowly I was able to move forward and forgive my ignorance. I knew that if I’d known better my child would have never been in this situation.
He was our fourth baby. I was still trying to cope with the fact that I would never get to physically hold his twin, at least in this earthly life. I was also relieved that he made it through in spite of all the worries of us possibly losing him too.
He was a small baby which was to be expected since he was a twin. I was just happy to be able to hold him close to me. I nursed all three of my babies the instant they were born and I planned on doing the same for him. We really tried to avoid formula altogether but unfortunately my first and second son had to use it after I kept having complications. I was hoping to avoid it this round.
I did as I had always done, breastfed exclusively on demand. I noticed he liked to eat very often, more often than his siblings did at his age. I might as well just taped him to my chest for instant fulfillment...that’s how often he would nurse.
When I looked at him the word malnourished never came to mind. I just thought he was a smaller baby due to being a twin and that he would eventually gain weight as he got older...
but he didn’t.
By the time he turned six months I started noticing how little his body really was. It was as if his head was growing but his body wasn’t following. I also noticed that for a six month old he would move a little slower than what I was used to, as if he was tired and lethargic. It dawned on me how fragile his whole body felt and that’s what really sounded the alarm.
On top of all of these signs our family and friends began asking random questions about him like
Does he eat as much as the other kids did?
Was he your smallest baby?
How much is he weighing these days?
Is nursing going okay?
It eventually hit me that they were politely hinting that something was off and they noticed the way he looked. I guess since this was my fourth child they didn’t want to seem as if they were stepping on my toes or trying to tell me how to care for my baby. I mean by this point I’m a professional and know what I’m doing right? No, that was not the case. Every child is different, there will always be new trials, struggles and scenarios to go through, problems to figure out. There is always room to listen and learn no matter how seasoned of a parent you think you are.
Well I listened to my instinct, the hidden messages from my loved ones and the signs that I seen. I told my husband of my concern and we took him to our trusted doctor immediately. It’s a good thing we did because as soon as he seen our son he said
I can tell you right now just by looking at him that he is undernourished.
He took his weight and measured some other things and confirmed his statement. He told me I needed to get him on some formula and cereal immediately to get him the proper nutrients he needed. So basically I needed to fatten my baby up and get some meat on his bones. With all of my kids I gradually added in cereals with my breastmilk when they turned six months. I found out I was not producing enough milk for him and that’s why he was always wanting to nurse. My poor baby wasn’t getting much from me, of course he was always hungry. I decided to start pumping whatever else I had left and add that to the formula and cereal. That way he was still getting those needed antibodies that only comes from mama’s milk.
Although they are our last resort since we practice natural alternatives, doctors serve their place and purpose when we need them. I am thankful they are available for times of reassurance and/or confirmation.
After we got him on a formula and cereal routine he started gaining weight pretty quickly. His body began catching up with his head, his arms and legs became thicker and he just looked healthier all around. He started moving quicker and had more energy. When I held him I felt more meat around his body and not just fragile bones. By his first birthday he looked like a totally different baby boy, nice and plump all around.
Till this day I have a hard time looking back on his pictures. Though it’s much better now I still have sad feelings from thinking
How could I not know? Why didn’t I see the signs earlier?
All I saw was my small beautiful baby boy. Nothing alarming screamed out at me until he was a few months older. I am so grateful that he is such a healthy and smart loving boy today with no developmental setbacks. It could have been a lot worse. We had worries it was an eating disorder or that his body couldn’t process food correctly. All of those things were cancelled out to just he needed more nutrients.
I wish my family and friends would have spoken up. If you know a child that looks under or over nourished please speak up. Time out for worrying about someone’s feelings, the child is more important and this is an issue that can be detrimental to their health. No telling how worse this could have been if we didn’t act on it when we did. This is a serious issue that shouldn’t be prolonged, it’s vital for it to be dealt with immediately.
I never thought I would have been through something like this. I dot my I’s and cross my t’s when it comes to my children’s health. I had researched and studied and did all things natural as much as possible but yet I had a malnourished child and didn’t even know it. I can admit I’ve said these words before about several situations
That will never be us. I can’t see that ever happening.
We never know what we’ll be faced with because we are not in control of everything. No matter how much research or preparing you do things can always go the opposite direction of what you expected.
Signs of Malnutrition
These are the signs to look for if you suspect malnutrition:
• a lack of growth and low body weight
• fatigue and a lack of energy
• irritability and anxiety
• slow behavioral and intellectual development, possibly resulting in learning difficulties
• weight loss
• a lack of appetite or interest in food or drink
• an inability to concentrate
• always feeling cold
• a higher risk of getting sick and taking longer to heal
• longer healing time for wounds
After I suspected it I could see how disproportionate his body really was. The only thing that seemed to get big was his belly after eating. I knew something was wrong. It was a painful reality we had to get corrected as soon as possible.
We had never dealt with this before as all of our previous babies grew at normal rates. I believe if he wasn’t a twin and if the risk of miscarriage wasn’t there maybe I would have noticed sooner. I kept attributing his size and slow growth to those factors which excused the warning signs.
All in all I know it was not intentional neglect but a problem that was overlooked. I don’t hate myself or shout out to the world I’m a horrible parent. It does however hurt that I noticed it later than sooner and now I have the photos to remind me of that.
I hope I was able to inform, comfort and confirm for someone else today. It is an emotional subject but needs to be talked about to bring awareness in hopes that others can prevent going through the same thing. If you know what to look for it can be dealt with much sooner.
This is my story,