It's been awhile since giving an update about Brenik, part of that has been situational but a lot of it has been avoidance. A couple months ago the boys and I all came down with hand, foot, and mouth, it was pretty mild but nevertheless it caused quite the number of issues for me and Brenik. After Brenik's illness he had his 6 month wellness checkup and at that time we discovered Brenik hadn't gained any weight since 4 months of age. It wasn't that he hadn't gained weight but that any weight he had gained he had lost due to the acute illness. The doctor at that point wasn't concerned but wanted a weight check in 2-3 weeks. Unfortunately when I got HFM it caused a clogged milk duct that then turned towards mastitis, I was able to clear it before the infection got too bad but because I was actively trying so hard to clear the blockage, I created what I later learned was a milk bleb. Have you heard of a milk bleb? I hadn't until I had one. At the weight check we were expecting Brenik to have gained weight because the main clog was gone (I didn't know yet that the bleb was also blocking milk) but he had lost more weight and was now below the 0th percentile. This was absolutely devastating. How was my child wasting away right in front of my eyes without me even noticing? Below the 0th percentile, cue mommy guilt skyrocketing to levels unknown. I mentioned to the pediatrician I had been having nursing issues so she set me up to see the lactation consultant after the appointment. From the lactation consultant I learned that a milk bleb is basically a cyst on the top of the nipple. The LC used a needle to pick it open, had me nurse and then instructed me to open it back up proceeding and following every time I nurse to let milk pass through. I originally thought this would just be a 1-2 day process but wound up being something I had to do multiple times a day everyday for a month. Awful, just awful, it felt like a very sick, sick joke that this is what I had to do and broke me emotionally several times throughout the month.
During the month long battle with the bleb I was regularly developing clogged ducts but once the bleb was finally gone I thought I was out of the woods, nope. After conquering the bleb I wasn't able to clear my latest blockage fast enough and everything came to a climax when I rapidly came down with mastitis that knocked me out, quite literally. I called Chris telling him I wasn't feeling well and the next thing I knew I was being whisked away in a Japanese ambulance to the ER. I don't remember much from the ride other than being way too tall at 5'11'' for the stretcher. It was thought that all the bacteria from my first incident with mastitis didn't quite disappear and it came back with a vengeance. Thankfully once I got on antibiotics my ducts cleared, my milk began picking up, and Brenik found himself back up at the 3rd percentile at his second weight check!
Let me be clear, my milk didn't just come back. Once we learned he had lost more weight I was doing everything in my power to encourage weight: waking him at night to feed, doubling the amount of time I took him to the breast to latch during the day, pumping after nursing, increasing my liquids, drinking 5 cups of mother milk tea a day, eating brewer's yeast in my oatmeal daily, rubbing on fennel, so much work. Sadly, all the time I spent working on increasing my milk stressed me out at the same time and increased my anxiety which resulted in decreasing my milk. It was a terribly vicious cycle. The milk hit an all time low and I was left with no choice but to get some formula to supplement. That first bottle skyrocketed the mommy guilt and emotions once more, why was I able to nurse my first for 16 months with no issues and my second is feeling like a complete fail? Don't even get me started on how distraught I got over the formula needing to be soy-based because of his dairy issues and not having a wide variety of options over here. I was convinced I was feeding my baby straight up liquid GMO (to be fair, soy is one of the most GMO crops so I'm not entirely wrong), so poison. Why do we as mothers let our minds spin so out of control?! I was up most of that night drowning in shame and anxiety, what had I just fed my baby? In the morning after much prayer I woke up feeling content with our decision to supplement and initially it alleviated a lot of the pressure I had on myself to produce milk. It started out as just a couple ounces a night but then life hit the fan between getting ready to move home and learning about developments at Chris' work that left me once again stressed out but also downright furious. Yep, milk dropped again and even farther this time. With my milk dropping we had to up Brenik's formula which then resulted in awful stomach and digestive issues leading to a very heartbreaking diaper rash. This is how I learned something else new; babies who digest formula have more acid in their bellies then breastfed babies so when a BF baby starts going on formula their belly becomes more acidic and their little systems aren't used to it so it can brutalize them from the inside out (or something along those lines). I know, this is all quite the saga.
Despite wasting away and having a bloody bum, he's still happy as ever. Who is this kid? We've actually been asked by people out in town, "why does he smile so much?" His mellow and joyful personality has been the shinning light through this all but has also made the last few months terribly confusing. The saying, "baby will let you know," is old as time. I'm here to tell you, baby will not always let you know! We had a check up at 8 months and the doctor is pleased by his weight projection, he's now up to the 5th percentile for weight. We're back to sleeping almost completely through the night again - the night nursing is good for milk production but the sleep deprivation was doing more harm than good so we decided to get back to our normal. He hasn't had formula the last couple days and the goal/hope is to get back to exclusively breastfeeding. There are still no teeth but he enjoys eating the foods we're eating and does receive purees a few time a day to support weight gain (I had originally hoped to do baby lead weaning only). Still only sitting with assistance and crawling appears to be a couple months away yet. The relationship between Gabriel and Brenik continues to grow and it's not uncommon for them to both get sucked up into a giggle spell. Brenik loves giving kisses and playing along side his big brother.