Notes from the frontline

We are now one week into parenthood and what a ride it has been so far! I’ve always thought of myself as a highly capable and practical person who is able to overcome life’s challenges. I don’t know why I thought this would make me a competent parent but I’m now convinced that this confidence was misplaced in ego. This parenting thing is HARD!!

But first let’s wind it all back. Our guy, let’s call him baby N, was born on Monday morning with all of Monday a fog of rapture, feelgood hormones and opiate painkillers. Baby N was doing great all round, he got perfect 10s on his Agpar score and he was a natural breast feeder immediately. The adrenaline that came with his arrival took me flying through to Tuesday. So much so that I didn’t sleep on Monday night. 

Tuesday rolled around and the nurses helped me to have my first post-delivery shower. This was both wonderful and absolutely disgusting as standing up allowed gravity to do its thing and let’s just say that it’s better not to look at what’s going down the drain during that shower!! That said, by Thursday I had absolutely no bleeding whatsoever which is brilliant!

By Tuesday I was able to be up and freely mobile which was also a relief. It meant I could use the bathroom independently, as well as pick up and change baby N. I had it all worked out!

Then Tuesday night happened. There was no sleeping on Tuesday night. I should have utilised the clinic’s nursery services more and let them takeover so I could have a sleep but I thought I’d be a super hero instead. The result: I was ridiculously tired and tearful on Wednesday. 

Not wanting to make that mistake again, baby N had a few hours in the nursery Wednesday night which was lovely. Uninterrupted sleep!! Whoever thought that would become my obsession?! He also took naps during the day so I would patch my sleep total together wherever possible. 

While in the clinic, the midwives there taught me the likes of how to bathe him and supported me with my breastfeeding. This clinic is like some kind of mothership of motherhood! I also made friends with another first-time mum whose son was born a few hours after baby N. She had her son naturally so we were comparing “war stories” although it wasn’t obvious which of us had it better/worse. Birth in all forms seems to be both beautiful and ugly in equal measures. 

By Thursday I was completely ready to go home to familiarity and a nice sleep in my own bed. We headed home as a family, full of optimism and delight at being able to return to the comfort of home and our peaceful lives as a proper family. 

Hahahahahaha!

Thursday night. 

The first night home. 

Why does no one warn you that the first night home is so incredibly terrible?!!!

I’m clearly no expert, but in retrospect I think the change in environment for baby N was quite a shock. He didn’t want to sleep in his Moses basket – why would he when all he had slept in until this point was my uterus, my arms and the clinic cot (and he much preferred my arms to the clinic cot anyway)?

The Thursday night, first-night-home experience involved a TOTAL of less than 2 hours sleep, 6 changes of clothes for baby N, a fast lesson on making certain the baby boy’s willy is facing down in the nappy/diaper (the wee comes out the top of the waistband otherwise, I can personally confirm that to be true), and a sea of tears from me. 

My lovely paediatrician gave me a pep talk when she visited on Friday so now I know that everything I experienced is pretty normal and to be expected for the first night actually. 

She suggested to make things better I should make an earlier start on the evening so that I can get 1-2 hours sleep in before the witching hours (as I call them) of between 1am-6am. That 5 hour stretch of night can seem endless when your baby is crying and so are you. 

Her advice was good because that tiny bit of extra sleep earlier in the evening allowed me to cope with the rest of the night better. Friday night was a big improvement on Thursday and I found I had a bit more confidence going into Saturday night.

But I’m my own worst enemy and on Saturday night I failed to go to bed early enough and suffered accordingly. The first time I went to sleep on Saturday night was about 4am Sunday morning and even then the sleep was limited!!! 

Sunday I started worrying that I’m not feeding baby N properly because he seems to always want to be on the boob. You seriously cannot get anything done with a baby on your boob all day. 

While he has gained weight well this week, yesterday’s weigh in showed he had not gained anything since Friday. My paediatrician was not super worried but is keen to see him put on some more weight in the coming days. 

We spent a lot of time trying to practice getting him to latch strongly but it seems he is a lazy one and tends to fall asleep on my boob. We will be looking into possibly breast pumping and some bottle feeding in the coming days because of this. 

She also gave me a little telling off as I’ve not eaten a lot since his birth and this could be affecting my milk supply. When I’m stressed I tend to not eat or lack hunger, and boy have I been stressed these past few days!!! It manifests itself in a feeling of anxiety not dissimilar to how you might feel before an exam or running a marathon but it lasts for several days non-stop. Anyway, from last night I started eating more in the hopes that baby N will start packing on the pounds if I give him a good supply of booby milk and stay hydrated. 

Overall baby N is a good baby. He does sleep, albeit for shorter periods of time than I’d like, and he doesn’t cry for other reasons besides being hungry. Even so, I have found myself crying every single day. The feelings are so confusing. Over the past few days I’ve felt like I’m letting baby N down by not being a good enough and natural enough mother, I’ve felt like I’ve been a bad wife by not giving my husband any real attention and I’ve even felt guilty for not playing with my cats more. It’s really hard to know what is good enough as a new mother and as a wife. 

I’ve definitely been trying to do too much around home and I noticed some mild swelling around my incision scar last night. I saw the doctor earlier today as he removed my external stitches but he said everything is ok. He indicated it is probably nothing to worry about as it may just be a little bleeding due my use of Clexane blood thinners. 

I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly my belly has been recovering. Day by day it seems a bit smaller. I’m genuinely shocked as a 38-year-old first time mum how resilient the body is!! Imagine how my recovery would have gone as a 25 year old?!!

Age: 1 week!!

Weight: 3.2kg (7 pounds) – birth weight 3.4kg

Feeding: Exclusive breastfeeding on demand. He takes around 45-60 mins to feed properly, sometimes longer if he’s fussing. 

Sleeping routine: I’m not sure he has a routine yet but he seems to sleep particularly soundly between 7am-10am and usually has a big afternoon nap. He likes to party between 2am-6am generally which is just great as you can imagine. 

He definitely sleeps better and longer when swaddles so I do this at night. During the day I let him sleep freely especially because it’s so hot here even with AC on. Swaddling makes babies hot being all wrapped up. 

Firsts: Everything seems like a first these days! He had his first car ride when we left the hospital (he slept through it), his first bath at home (assisted by his grandma), and his first nappy changed exclusively by daddy (yay daddy!!) 

Achievements: No big ones yet but he does lift his head up unassisted for a second when I have him on my shoulder. His Moro reflex is pretty funny too because when he does it he looks like a particularly animated orchestra conductor. 

Hair: He’s got a covering of light-medium brown hair around 1.5cm long. Its lightly wavy at the moment but who knows if it will stay like that. 

Eye colour: His eyes are dark blue now but both my husband and I have brown eyes and there’s no one in our families with blue eyes so it’s only a matter of time before they change. 

Things to do: This week we have to register his birth, take him for a hearing test and he has his baby photo shoot tomorrow. 

Things we have learned:

  • Always make sure the willy is facing down when putting on a new nappy/diaper 
  • Babies like to cluster their feeds together which can mean a series of a few hours with the baby on your boob practically non-stop. This is exhausting!!
  • Newborns don’t automatically like their bed at home and may take time to feel safe and familiar. In the meantime they’ll happily sleep on you which you will relent to doing if you’re so sleep deprived you’re in tears. 
  • Swaddling is great. Learn how to do it!!
  • Freshly washed baby smell is the best!!
  • A good chair and a nursing pillow are critical to breast feeding comfort.  I was silly and did not get a nursing chair in advance and so hubby went off yesterday to buy one. The difference it has made to me is huge!! I’m so much more comfortable and relaxed when feeding now. Well done hubby!

Mummy update: My total pregnancy weight gain was 16.5kg (36 pounds). One week post-partum and I’ve lost around 9kg (20 pounds). I’ve been hugely surprised by this but suspect the next losses will be harder to come by. 

My belly has gone down a lot. It’s still there but I now have a waist again which is nice. See below a comparison of my 38 week pregnant belly and my 1 week post-partum belly.




The kitties are generally fine with Baby N. As I expected, it is my littlest kitty who is the most affected. She is a bit jealous and so does naughty things like scratch the furniture to get my attention. None of the kitties have shown any sign of aggression, it’s more curiosity. See below for a pic of the kitty enjoying a cuddle alongside the baby. 

 

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The small guy is here!

Yes, the day finally arrived and our little boy was safely born yesterday (17 July) at 8.35am. He weighs in at 3.420kg (about 7 and a half pounds) and is a very long 53cm. 

The boys holding hands!

As an overall summary of the c-section, it was remarkably unstressful and painless. I had been nervous as hell about the whole thing in advance, especially the epidural, but actually that stress was misplaced. 

I was taken into the theatre at 8am and the epidural took a few minutes to administer. The general anaesthetic before they insert the epidural was barely even a prick of the skin (it’s much more painful to have the central line put into your hand). It took a few minutes for the epidural to take the full effect and the only bad moment was that my blood pressure dropped dramatically at this point and I felt very nauseous, did some dramatic retching into a dish and had a bit of a cry. I was given something else to balance me out and felt fabulous after that. 

The actual c-section surgery was very quick – maybe 10 mins long – and totally painless. I had two surgeons working on me and they were pulling and yanking and leaning on my chest to get the baby out which was strange but did not hurt. 

Hubby was fascinated by all of the surgery so spent most of the time watching that rather than sitting with me. Watching his face was a good distraction – he is not at all squeamish so he loved seeing the whole process unfold. 

Before long our little guy was pulled out and I immediately felt substantially lighter and able to breathe fully again!! No big surprise after we learned how long he is! He let out some beautiful big wails straight away so I knew he had strong lungs. The doctor gave me a little peek at his face before the paediatrician took him for a few mins to check him over. 

He was still crying when she brought him to me and so she rested his forehead against mine – would you believe even that small amount of skin-to-skin contact was enough to soothe him. 

At this point, I also got a good look at him and I realised actually he doesn’t look like a replica of my husband as we thought the scans showed but actually he looks just like me as a newborn!! That was quite a surprise!!

After a few minutes of being sewn up I was taken to the recovery room where I was reunited with the baby, our son, for some proper skin-to-skin. The midwives helped me to get him to latch on and within less than 30 seconds he was feeding. It was incredible! In fact it turns out he is a real booby-lover as I’ve had almost no problem getting him to latch on since. 

I felt pretty good for the rest of the day yesterday which was certainly assisted by some light epidural top-ups and so much adrenaline coursing through my veins!!  We had some immediate family come as visitors yesterday (everyone has now seen my boobs) and now today there are other people popping by which is nice. 

This morning I was finally disconnected from the catheter and the central line which meant I could have a shower. It was a magnificent shower as I felt so gross but I found myself very overwhelmed by dizziness and nausea and barely made it back to bed before vomiting quite heavily. I think I’m a sensitive soul when it comes to vomiting in general so they gave me some anti-nausea meds and I’ve felt great ever since. 

It’s been quite a big developmental leap to parenthood but it’s great so far. I’ve even gone from being a nappy/diaper-changing novice to changing two today – one of them quite a messy meconium poo one. 

My belly has gone down significantly which is great. I do wonder what the scales will say too! I still have some bloating and baby belly flab (of course) but I am hopeful at least some of this will shift in the next few weeks. 

So 30 hours into motherhood and I’m hooked!! Seeing how much this little guy is bonded to me already and my heart is melted. 💙

*In the interests of retaining anonymity on the blog, anyone who wants a better photo of the baby is welcome to comment below and I’ll email you some pics directly.