Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reality Check – Leaving the hospital with a newborn….

Nothing slaps you in the face harder than the first couple of nights at home after giving birth to a new baby.  I know that most women block that out of their memory (otherwise they may not have more babies) but since I know that no more babies are in my future, I am going to document that “wonderful” time. 
Of course everyone is anxious to get home from the hospital (since nurses come in on the hour every hour usually to check vitals etc..) because it is always more comfortable to rest at home.  While it is nice to be at home and in your own bed, you find out quickly that you don’t get to spend too much time there (in your cozy bed) once you are home.  That first night home from the hospital was like a bad dream.  I kept the notebook where we logged her feeding times and her wet and dirty diapers since you have to keep track of all that for the first several days and going back and looking at it is funny because I really don’t think I slept at all that first night at home.  I was nursing so if she actually did sleep, I would have to wake her about every 2-3 hours to nurse (I followed doctor’s orders).  Speaking of nursing, what an experience that was.  Thankfully the lactation consultant at the hospital had helped us while we were there but once we came home, I was on my own and wasn’t doing so well at it.  Thankfully my sister stepped in and helped me at times when I was about to throw in the towel.  It does take a lot of patience and there were lots of tears but we made it through and she ended up nursing until she was 9 ½ months old!  That is an amazing experience that I would encourage everyone to at least try.  It takes crazy dedication and is a MAJOR PAIN to pump when you go back to work but it is so worth it, in my opinion.  And as far as convenience, you can’t beat it—especially in the middle of the night when you are too tired to mix a bottle.

We came home from the hospital on a Thursday (May 6th) and had an appointment with her pediatrician (Dr. Michael McKinney) on Friday morning just to make sure she was doing good and gaining weight.  She was indeed gaining weight but they wanted to check her bilirubin levels because they thought she looked a little jaundice.  Sure enough, her level was higher than what it should have been so they told us to go home and hold her in the window allowing sunlight to get to her.  They also said to supplement some formula into her feedings which would help some too.  They told us that we needed to go back to the hospital the next morning (Saturday) and have the level checked again to make sure that it was going down.  I was very upset that we were going to have to go back and have this done again the next morning because I hated to see her little heels get pricked and it was obviously painful for her because she would scream when they pricked her.  Saturday morning we went to the hospital lab to have the levels checked again and the levels were even higher.  The doctor told us that if they got any higher, they would have to admit her to the hospital and do phototherapy on her.  So we went home that day and spent most of the day sitting in the sunlight and feeding her formula bottles.  As instructed, we headed back to the hospital Sunday morning to have the levels checked again (her poor little heels).  FINALLY good news—the levels were on the decline and they told us that once they start to go down, they would continue to go down and that we wouldn’t have to have them re-checked again.  From the pictures, you can see that our sweet pea was pretty yellow! 

Sunbathing in the window

As the days went by, we continued to get better with the whole nursing thing and adjusted to the lack of sleep.  It was nice to be off work but I can’t say that the time off was restful.  Taking a shower was, many days, my big accomplishment for the day.  Prior to my delivery when I would dream about my 8 weeks of maternity leave, I envisioned a perfectly clean house and having time to cook meals every night for my family while my perfect new baby slept in her bassinet!  What a JOKE that was.  I’m sure most new mothers dream about those things but quickly get that same wake-up call that I received!  It was definitely an experience but I wouldn’t change a thing!

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