December 19, 2014

Surviving Our First Few Weeks

Our first couple of weeks were far more difficult than I thought they would be. This post will probably be a little all over the place, but bear with me.
We spent most of our first week at the hospital. Our original plan was to keep Cai in the room with us, but he ended up in the nursery a great deal of the time. In the beginning he had low blood sugar, and they kept checking it, until our pediatrician finally told them to stop because he was fine. 
Then he developed jaundice and had to be under the blue lights all the time unless I was nursing him. this was super difficult for me. I was definitely hormonal at the time and it killed me to not have him near me. I missed him so much. Plus, it didn't help that I felt like it was my fault that he had jaundice. When I was being reasonable, I knew this wasn't the case, but the nurses and the pediatrician kept saying things about how it was because my milk hadn't come in yet. They strongly encouraged us to supplement with formula because eating more would cause him to poo and pee the bilirubin out faster. We used something called an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) which is basically a tube connected to a small bottle of formula. You tape the tube to your nipple, so that when you're  nursing, the baby gets your colostrum and the formula and it encourages your milk to come in. Anyway, I felt awful and had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't my fault and that it was normal for my milk to not have come in yet especially because I had a c-section.
Despite the jaundice, they still let us go home on the day we were scheduled, although they made us wait until evening. Cai's bilirubin was still a little high, so they sent us home with a bilirubin blanket.
 
 It's basically a photo therapy light that you wrap around the baby. It made our first night home AWFUL. Cai was attached to an outlet. The thing was so heavy that it was hard for him to lay flat; he kept rolling to his side. We couldn't swaddle him because of it. Actually, because it had to be on bare skin, it was difficult to even have clothes on him. We tried putting him in the co-sleeper in our room, but between the bilirubin blanket and the fact I couldn't sit up easily on my own (to pick him up and nurse him) because of my incision, all three of us ended up sleeping in the living room sitting up while we took turns holding Cai.

Then, first thing the next morning (Saturday), we had to take Cai back to the hospital for blood work to see if his levels had gone down. Getting out of the house on a schedule on your first day home with a newborn after a c-section and a sleepless night is no small task, but we did it. The levels were okay, so we didn't have to use the bilirubin blanket the second day home, but our night was still awful. Cai would cry every time we put him down and would only sleep in our arms. He slept half the night in his car seat and the other half sitting up in my arms.

We went back to the hospital for more blood work on Sunday, then to a pediatrician appointment on Monday. They sent us for blood work one more time, and at that point he was finally jaundice free. My milk had finally come in then also, so we stopped supplementing. I can't tell you how exciting it was to see milk spill out of Cai's mouth when he drooled! I was so proud and satisfied.

Somewhere in those first few days, I took an afternoon nap for a little over two hours while Cai napped and Daddy took care of him woke up. It was the first time I had slept more than two hours since arriving at the hospital (between feedings, and uncomfortable bed, and having my vitals checked every few hours, I didn't sleep much), and it was wonderful.

Steve was amazing through all of this. At the hospital, he did everything but nurse Cai. He changed every diaper and at one point even fed me my lunch (I was starving and hadn't yet perfected the art of accomplishing anything while nursing). Despite all of the difficulties, we both fell in love with our son in those first few days, and I fell even more in love with my husband as I watched him love Cai.

By his third night home, we had figured out a way to swaddle him called "The Secret Swaddle" which we had seen on Pinterest. Prior to this, we would wake himself up because he would punch his way out of the swaddle. This method works as a little baby straight jacket and allows him to sleep calmly (except Cai doesn't smile sweetly while we swaddle him like the baby in picture; he fights it until he's completely snuggled up).

Recovering from a c-section was harder than I thought it would be. Because of the c-section (and the reasons I already mentioned), we didn't really use the co-sleeper and ended up putting Cai in his crib (more on my recovery in another post). This made me a little sad, but it was what worked for us.

I've learned about mommy guilt very quickly. Not only did I feel like the jaundice was my fault because I wasn't providing milk for my baby right away, but around the second week home, Cai developed a severe diaper rash. At his second doctor's appointment, the pediatrician told us that the fact that the redness was centered around the anus meant that it was more than likely caused by an intolerance to something I was eating. She suggested either tomatoes (or other acidic foods) or dairy (milk protein). I cut out tomato sauce and cut back on dairy and the rash went away. It came back this week, but has cleared up again a few days later. It's awful knowing that what I was eating without a second thought was causing my baby pain. I experienced this all over again tonight when Cai had some pretty severe gas for the first time. I'm pretty sure it was because I ate some broccoli for the first time last night. The gas didn't last super long, but his screams were gut wrenching!

Speaking of gas, another struggle those first few weeks was dealing with the (kindly intended) suggestions from family members. Every time Cai wiggled, stretched, or fussed, whatever female family member was nearby (mother, grandmother, great grandmother, great aunt) suggested that it was gas. I can't tell you how many times my grandmother said, "Oh, he has a belly ache." Like I said, tonight was the first time he really had gas, but that hasn't stopped everyone from talking about it. It's way harder than I thought to deal with the advice of EVERYONE.

Anyway, we made it! All three of us! And Cai is thriving! My intent is to write a post about his one month update tomorrow, but we'll see how that goes. Hopefully I get to it because the next week is crazy busy, with fun stuff, but busy none-the-less.

4 comments:

  1. Lorena, congratulations on making it through the first (basically hard and terrible, except for having a wonderful baby and husband!) month! There is no way for anyone to tell you how difficult it's going to be- at least that is what I found! You guys are doing great and Cai is so handsome!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! I can't tell you how helpful and encouraging reading your blog has been for me!

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  2. Congratulations on surviving your first few weeks! My gosh, you guys went through so much. As I was reading the part about multiple doctor and hospital appointments in a row I wanted to cry for you. I can't imagine that was easy at all. We continue to pray for you and Steve and Cai, that you feel God's love and peace with you as you navigate these first few weeks/months of parenthood. We love you guys!

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    1. Thanks, Kristen! The first week was really the hardest, but the rest hasn't been so bad. Thanks for your prayers! They are definitely felt!

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