Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh pediatrician, you make me sad.

Mr. Bunny took Bun Bun in for her six month checkup on Friday, while I was at work. When he gave me the report, it seemed clear that I am an inadequate mother in several ways.

ONE. We've started Bun Bun on solids. I'd heard about this baby-led weaning deal where you skip purées and let the baby feed itself, and I thought that sounded awesome. It was a thrill to see Bun Bun picking up pieces of banana and pear and mango and smearing them all over her face and nomming them down in a gaggy sort of way. I'd also done some spoon feeding if we were eating something that was appropriate, like puréed soup. I'd given her some harder things, too, like orange slices and lime wedges, which she seemed happy with. And it made me happy to sit at the table and share food with her. The doctor? Not happy. Choking hazard. Bad mother. I'm not sure which things precisely he objected to, since I wasn't there to ask, but Mr. Bunny's report made me feel chastised and depressed. Partly because Mr. Bunny was a bit nervous about the whole thing, too, although he'd agreed to do it. So I felt like I was wrong and he was right. And the truth is, I jumped into it because it made sense to me, and I read a few websites, but didn't do exhaustive research, so I wasn't totally sure of myself...

I was also informed that she should start eating three meals a day as soon as possible, instead of my lazy one or two.

And, Mr. Bunny selected a few delicious MEAT SLURRIES (a.k.a. baby food featuring meat) for me to spoon feed her. (I'm vegetarian but have no plans to raise Bun Bun that way.) Those things are fucking GROSS, and not because they contain meat.

So anyways, something that was happy is now SAD. I've ordered a BOOK, and we'll see what I think after reading it. Maybe I'll continue with the BLW, maybe I'll modify it a bit, I dunno. I need to figure out which principles are important to me and see if I can keep them alive in a way that Mr. Bunny is comfortable with.

TWO. After being a wonderful sleeper for about five months, Bun Bun has begun waking multiple times a night. Sometimes only two, but sometimes four or five (which, yes, I know, probably sounds good to some of you, but still), and feeding her and putting her back down is no longer sufficient.

Before she was born, I was pro sleep training and Mr. Bunny was con. But she didn't need it, so we'd agreed that we'd revisit the whole issue if she ever did. When she started her recent waking pattern, we'd been riding it out hoping she'd go back to her old ways. It had been about a month, so Mr. Bunny asked the doctor. Even though I KNEW what he'd say, it still made me feel bad to hear it. The word counterproductive was used regarding my tendency to feed her to get her to shut up. Some version of sleep training was recommended. BAD, BAD MAMA.

And the thing that particularly pissed me off about this one was the fact that, had it not been for Mr. Bunny, I'd have tried sleep training long ago.

Last night Mr. Bunny and I both had some kind of hideous 12 hour bug. (I hope. Please don't come back, hideous thing.) Mr. Bunny was vomiting and my whole body ached. So we started sleep training using the semi-gentle method described in this book I like because it says I can drink. You choose a 10 hour window and neither feed nor pick up during that window, though you can check in at increasingly longer intervals. It went well, and although it made me cry to leave the room without picking her up, it genuinely seems right for all of us.

I know there are competing views on both these issues, and I'm not ideologically committed to either camp, really. I just want to do what makes sense to me, what I believe best combines all our interests. And hey, I guess this is what parenting is: Carefully figuring out what you think is best, negotiating with your partner if you've got one, and then being told you're doing it all wrong.


  1. Oh damn the pediatric establishment. I changed pediatricians when g was almost a year old and it made me feel much better. I was sure that it was because our first pediatrician was a marginally competent yes-woman but, now that I think back on it, the relief may have come more from the fact that just seeing her face provoked intense feelings of failure and incompetence in me.

    You are the ones who really know Bun bun. And sleep is one of those tricky things that everybody seems to have an opinion about. As the mother of the world's worst sleeper, I can't dispense advice but I have figured out from listening to people that pretty much everyone will feel the need to put some effort into their child's sleep habits at some point. My understanding is that for most babies the most important thing is to choose an approach that you feel comfortable with and stick with it. Good luck!

  2. Call me a tree hugging hippy mother earth, but in 15 months I met 5 peds (changed one practice for another) and they are good at treating ailments and alleviating pain, but not so great at practical advice. The nurses on the other hand, I struck gold with them. They know better about breastfeeding, about starting solids, about curing nappy rash, and other minor things. Just like midwives.
    If BunBun is doing alright with her food and she clearly enjoys it, why spoil the experience for her? Three meals a day for a six mo might be a bit too early, during the first year children still take the most nutrients from milk. Food before one is just for fun. I trust you are not giving her peanuts and buttons for her to choke on them, so why would the ped assume you do? Has she seen you in action? Just because other parents are irresponsible, does not mean that. You are one of them.
    Do your research, think for yourself and decide what is best for your child. You know how medical advice changes from decade to decade. In the 50s they advertised Lucky Strikes because the doctors smoke it too. Well, we are a far way from that, aren't we? And also in the 60s the doctors made new mothers not nurse their newborns because the colostrum and the milk was not "white", like cow milk, hence totally unworthy and useless.That also changed nowadays. Apparently what worked just fine for centuries and centuries before is alright after all these days as well.
    Now I return to my camp, I need to relight the fire to keep wolves at bay. :-) That's what we hippies do. :-)

    Oh, and the sleep thing - regressions come and go and the child's internal mechanism will adjust itself eventually. My child needed 14 months for that adjustment, which is thrown to above mentioned wolves whenever teething or vaccines are involved. Should you choose a method, stick with is for at least 3 days. If after that results are still no show, try something else.

    Good luck. And please trust yourself more, you know BunBun better than anyone. she's obviously thriving, so perhaps you're not doing all that shabby after all, are you?

  3. I agree with the above ladies. I've heard good things about BLW and sleep, hell, no one can win the sleep battle - its all about finding a way to tolerate your norm.

    Bad ped for making you feel bad! BAD!

  4. Good luck, Bunny! This is all so grey. I don't know what method is best either. I'm the Mom who velcroed a pillow to Bee's crib sheet and you know what??!! he sleeps a lot better, so I do think it's all about what works for you in your situation even it it means breaking all the "rules" - you're not a BAD MAMA, just a caring one.

  5. What is it with pediatricians that they always manage to make us feel as though we’re doing things completely wrong?? I’m going to second what the other ladies have said in that I think it’s just important to do what feels right to you, Mr. Bunny and Bun Bun. At our 4-month appointment the ped asked how often we were nursing at night and when I told him, responded with something along the lines of, “well, it’s time you started getting her in line a bit.” Why? If I’m not complaining about nursing her multiple times during the night and I’m not doing her any HARM, what’s the big deal?!?

    I think Baby Led Weaning is pretty cool and natural and common sense. I’ve watched my sister do it with my now 22-month old niece and it’s been great for her. And the choking hazard? Seriously? It’s not like you’re giving her a plate of chopped up fruit and then running off to the shower while she feeds herself. (Are you? If you are then the ped’s probably on to something, Bad Bad Mama.) I think the great part about BLW is that you get to share the eating experience. You have some mango, I’ll have some mango. And that’s not something you get with those slurries. Here in Spain they recommend that all the early purees be homemade. I thought it would be a pain in the ass (and it may still be as we haven’t reached that point yet) but then the doctor gave me the “recipe” and it’s almost like making a cuppa tea… Perhaps that’s a middle ground.

  6. Oh, piffle. Just remember, as long as the baby is making choking *noises*, they're not choking yet!

    Bug used to throw up every single time we gave him a new food. No joke. Just once each, but it was gross.

    My favorite thing about Bug's (family practice) doc is that he's never once pressed me to do anything I don't want to. When it came up that I was still nursing at 18 months, he said, "And how is that working for you? Are *you* happy with it?"

  7. I'm sorry your pedi is an uptight turd. They are called guidelines for a reason not rules. Please trust your instincts.

  8. Yuck. It seems like it's tricky that you got all of this second-hand. That makes it hard to know what tone the doctor said all of that in. And it also didn't give you a chance to explain why/how the stuff you're doing is working for you.
    It does sound like it might be worth looking at other pediatrician options, if this one has beliefs that don't match with yours and/or a judgemental tone. Believe it or not, we actually look forward to our son's check-ups b/c our pediatrician is so warm and friendly. She is very helpful with figuring out solutions to anything we're struggling with, but also says lots of things about what great parents we are.
    It seems like the most important thing to remember is that you guys, too, are great parents, whether or not what you are doing matches up exactly with whatever belief system the pediatrician (or anyone else) has.

  9. I will accept your bitchslaps now -- I love my pedi. He's very laid back, has been encouraging, and has never been an alarmist about anything to do with sleeping or eating or even illnesses. He often ends visits by telling us we're doing a great job. THAT is what you deserve. Because, really, BunBun is fine.

    Three meals a day at 6 months sounds a bit aggressive, unless your kid is insatiably hungry. We started with one meal a day around then, moved up to breakfast and lunch by around 8 months, and then three meals a day by around 9-10 months. We've just done whatever works and let Jackson eat whatever he takes an interest in, including things you are feeding BunBun. I wouldn't worry about choking hazards if you're using common sense and supervision. There's no hard and fast rule and if your pedi claims there is, get thee to another doctor.

    Sleep training is tricky. We've done it as needed and it does work, and you do have to give it a few days each time. There will be setbacks. I usually think about it as being in the best interest of everyone -- Jackson needs quality sleep to be rested and happy, and so do Mama and Daddy. So the effort to help him sleep longer hours is an investment for everyone. We haven't used any particular method, but really a combo platter of various approaches that have worked for us. In the end, that's what most of parenting really is: doing what works for your kid.

  10. yo. i'm a paediatrician in training and a momma- and back home in the savage lands where i hail from, babies start on solids around 4 months... i did that with my wee one- no probs. As long as it is mashed and in small bits- no choking hazard. Go with what feels right- she'll let you know if she's hungry.

    sleep-training, go with what works for you and what you need, if sleep training means you can rest and be a better momma- go for it. everyone has an opinion but in the end, its you that has to live it, and go with what works for you.

    P.S been reading you for ages, love your blog.

  11. You ARE a great mama, and you're competent, and you're smart enough to seek resources and do extra homework to get the answers you need. I don't know what's shittier--getting the condescension firsthand or secondhand--but I hate that you were made to doubt your fierce mama skillz. You are doing a fantastic job, got it?

    We are BLWers here, perhaps a bit more modified than the pure BLW peeps, but it works for us. It's fun, and my kid is growing and thriving. And he's never once choked on a piece of food. We sit down 3x q day together, we often eat the very same things, and he enjoys it, from what I can tell. We went this route initially because he refused purees. Now he will take some, especially if we load a spoon for him and he can feed himself. But, by and large, the kid feeds himself, and it's a gloriously fun mess.

    And sleep? Well, I've yet to find someone whose sleep training has worked permanently. I seem to read and hear from others that things like teething and developmental milestones are constantly throwing a wrench in things. I guess my point is that sleep seems to be a continuous work in progress for everybody, no matter what training method you subscribe to (or, like me, none at all, meh). So, like Oak said, it's more about finding how to live comfortably in your/Bun Bun's new normal. Whatever works for your fam! I feel like sleep is a family thing--not a pediatrian thing, unless there's something super outstanding going on. But normal baby/toddler sleep? That's all about you three.

    I am so nervous here in my new town because I have to find a new ped. I've solicited recommendations from the moms' group in town, and I have a short list...but WOWZA am I worried! 'Cause, you know, we're just a bunch of bedsharing, night-nursing, selective vaccinating, non-circumcising, baby-led-weaning bunch of asshole baby-endangering hooligans over here. ;)

    I don't want to suggest that a new pediatrician is in order for you, but a pediatrician should never make you feel like a bad mother. Ever. You should totally feel like you're on the same team, like your questions and insight are valuable and desired.

  12. i've mentioned before how i loathe your ped. please switch practices before it comes up again.

    seriously. this dude always sounds like a turd.

    we are all about the chunky foods over here, but if that makes mr. bunny uncomfortable, i recommend a food mill. makes your real, non-nasty foods into purees. everybody wins. (we fed the bean lots of this because he did not share our moral purity vis-a-vis blw. kids today: no respect.)

    sorry about the sleep. sleep shit sucks. i'm constantly trying to decide whether feeding the bean at night is good (feeding babies is, right?) or bad (dependency!). the one thing i feel definite about is that any attempts to guilt-trip you for in some way not "teaching" bun bun to be a good sleeper later are nonsense. for better or for worse, i think lifetime sleep habits are born, not made.

  13. No face punching here! You were awesome in your comment about me meeting Ina May. I put you on there as an example of how to respectfully disagree. Now tie an email address to your blogger account so I can email you that rather than tainting your blog with another comment!

  14. Baby led weaning is more widespread in the UK than it is over here. I know a British mum who had it recommended by her paediatrician. Doctors disagree!

    Personally, I just didn't tell my paediatrician what I was doing. I told her we were starting solids at six months, and when she asked about finger foods at nine months, I brightly said: "Not a problem!" She's pretty cool about stuff anyway, but I figured, why push it?

    Some general waffled and observations on BLW. Choking hazard: I don't think anybody's actually done a study on what's safer, but it's worth remembering that pureed foods have only been around for fifty years or so, and I've not seen anything to suggest that choking was a leading cause of infant mortality before then!

    One theory with the baby led weaning is that it's safer than purees. With the purees, you're teaching your baby to master swallowing before chewing, whereas with BLW it's vice versa. The latter idea seems more logical to me.

    Something that's occurred to me recently is that at six months of age, babies are chewing on everything anyway. So you're introducing babies to solids at a time when they are *wanting* to chew on things. Again, that seems more logical to me than introducing larger chunks of food after that stage has passed (and after training your baby to automatically move everything to the back of the throat and swallow).

    My theories aside, I have a son who will be three next week, and whose sole choking experience was last week on a piece of popcorn--which he did succeed on dislodging with a gag reflex after a few scary seconds. My daughter is nine months and ate meatballs and pasta with the rest of us at the dinner table tonight... albeit with much more mess.

    I do like that it means your child can eat meals with you from the start. Much simpler than spoonfeeding them! I don't see a problem in giving Bun Bun three meals a day along with the rest of the family, so long as you're not demanding that she actually eat them. Playing with food is all good experience that builds any number of skills!

  15. Starting solids was really intimidating to me, so I understand where you're coming from. My pediatrician told us to start three meals a day and add rice cereal too after I had already started my 6 mo on homemade purees. So, I'm feeding him two "meals" a day and did add rice cereal. He's happy and gobbling both the purees and cereal right up, so I'm just going with it. I've been making the purees and they're super easy. I also got "Top 100 Baby Purees" by Annabel Karmel from the library and it's actually making me a bit excited to try new things. As for sleep training...it's tough but worth it. I've said this before when I commented, but get yourself over to AltDotLife! There's lot of good advice over there and I think you'd enjoy the community. =Meghan

  16. As a pediatrician (though far removed from primary care at this point), this makes me sad. I agree with someone above that having the info second-hand makes it hard to gauge the spirit with which it was delivered, but you shouldn't be made to feel like a terrible mom every time you go for a check up. Maybe it IS time to switch? We love our docs, they are very supportive of our choices (though our choices thus far have been pretty mainstream) and honest about the lack of scientific reasoning for a lot of this stuff (solids, sleep).
    As a mom who's been through a lot of this with #1 (and looking upon it for #2), I'll just commiserate. Sleep is the hardest thing. We DID sleep train, around 6-7 months, and it actually DID work for us, but I think it was because my little guy was READY for it. Its sooo individual and there is no right answer, which is maddening, but maybe also encouraging?
    I'd never heard of BLW before (well, I had "heard" it in passing but had no idea what it was...the name makes it sound way more hippie-crunchy then it actually is). it sounds perfectly reasonable & I'll probably do that with my new guy. With #1 we started home-made purees, gradually moving from 1 to 2 to 3 meals a day by about 9-10 months. As others stated its just for fun & practice until close to a year, anyways. He had difficulty learning to chew/swallow, though, and tended to puke (like, a LOT) with chunky foods until very close to a year of age when he finally figured out how to handle it. So it may be a better idea to START with the chunks so they learn that skill earlier. I like it. Though I'll do away with the "baby-led-weaning" moniker and just call it "starting with chunky foods" to sell it to my husband!

  17. Our moms fed us rice cereal at 2 weeks and cheeseburgers (or whatever) at, like 4 months. There is a whole lot of unproductive hairsplitting about the timing of baby foods.

    I hope the sleep training goes well. It did for us - it made the last little piece click into place.

  18. I'm with you on all this bad mommy feelings with sleep and solids. I'm totally failing at sleep training. We've been trying to cry it out for the past week and it sucks ass, makes me feel horrible and after periodic check-ins every 15 minutes, I finally pick him up and soothe him after about 1 hr 45 minutes. Last night, he went to sleep on his own after 45 minutes and I thought I was finally getting somewhere. But then he woke up 45 minutes later. UGH. So frustrated. It's a work in progress and makes me feel like a BAD mommy. I'm also all about getting the boob out when he wakes in the middle of the night. I'm just too lazy to try all the other things. BAD MOMMY over here too.

    Good luck on it all, I hope you find things that work for both you and Bun Bun.

  19. I am only now learning about BLW as I read this. I can bet your ped was a butthole about the whole thing. Meat can remain a long way off. That stuff for the littles is beyond foul.

    Sleep training does come and go. We recently debated it here at my house several months ago and Toddlerina is almost 2.5.