Maybe this post should have been titled “my first week as a mommy” or “our first week as parents”. Wow. Talk about a roller coaster few days! In some ways it feels like he was just born hours ago and in other ways it feels like a month or more has gone by since his birth. It’s been scary and difficult and exhausting and emotional and amazing and full of love.
Here’s a little about how that first week went.
We had a few visitors, and our room felt like a revolving door with all the nurses who came in to check on me and Hudson. They were fantastic, but it gets old having to get your vitals checked every hour or so.
Much of our day was spent nursing, or at least trying to. Breastfeeding has been a big struggle, but I’ll save that saga for another post.
Basically we just stared in awe at our precious little boy. A friend of ours described having a baby as a new chamber in your heart opening to make room for all that extra love. He was spot on – I can’t even describe the love we feel for Hudson and it’s so overwhelming that it feels like I might burst.
Saturday was our second day in the hospital post-partum and again spent mostly like this…lots of snuggles!
The hospital photographer came by on Saturday to take Hudson’s pictures. I didn’t plan to purchase any, but I thought I’d let her take some anyway and then I could take some, too, while he was in his cute little outfit. Oh, y’all. After she took the pictures she plugged them in to this little slideshow with music and quotes about babies and it was just too much. They’ve got their marketing down pat – show sappy slideshows to emotional new moms. I was a crying mess. So yeah, we bought the pictures…but they are really good (I was very impressed with how good they were with no special lighting or backdrop or anything) and I can’t want to print and hang several of them.
This is one I took – not nearly as good as the photographer’s, but still sweet.
Since he was born at 7:55pm on Thursday and typically they don’t release you for 48 hours, we weren’t quite sure when (or if) we’d get to go home on Saturday, since that’s a pretty late hour to get discharged. Hudson’s bilirubin levels were a bit elevated so they tested him with a heel prick Saturday afternoon. They must have come back okay (or at least low enough that they couldn’t justify keeping him overnight) so they sent us on home with instructions to call our pediatrician in the morning to check in. In hindsight I wish they had just kept us….
We dressed our little guy in his first “real” clothes and I was surprised at how much too big his newborn clothes were! I had packed a few newborn things and a few 0-3 month things, not knowing how big he would be. Turns out, even most of his newborn stuff is too big!
The nursery nurses make these sweet little hats for all the babies. Doesn’t he just look adorable??
Leaving the hospital was really emotional for me. Let’s be honest, I’ve been emotional since the moment they held my little guy up for me to see. But for some reason, leaving the hospital hit me hard. We had the best experience and all the staff was so fantastic to us. I was of course very ready to get home, but at the same time it was nice being in our little bubble at the hospital. It was kind of the same bittersweet emotion I feel when I leave church camp in the summer - ready to be clean and in my own bed, but sad to leave the people who have become my “family” for the week. So as Michael loaded up the car with our stuff, I sat in our hospital room and rocked Hudson and cried.
All packed up and ready to go in his carseat.
When we got home we unpacked some, showered the “hospital ick” off of us, and got ready for bed. I’d done pretty good up until this point, but bedtime that first night home was a nightmare. We swaddled Hudson as well as we could and put him in his Rock ‘N Play next to our bed. I was just terrified that he’d scrunch his neck down and stop breathing, or that his swaddle would creep up over his face and smother him. We tried to lay down to sleep but I just starting crying. Michael was absolutely amazing and sat up with Hudson the whole entire night so I could sleep in peace. I have the most amazing husband in the whole world, for sure.
Our first full day home was pretty good. My mom watched Hudson so we could go back to bed and get a few hours of sleep, which was great especially since Michael hadn’t slept at all.
We spent the rest of the morning just hanging out.
He loves this position, all curled up in a ball on someone’s chest. I’m pretty sure that must be the position he was in inside my belly because it’s definitely his favorite!
Sunday morning we were supposed to call to check in with our pediatrician about Hudson’s jaundice. We called her and she asked us a few questions but didn’t really seem too concerned. However, as the day wore on, Michael started to think Hudson was looking really yellow so we called her back and she wanted us to come in and get lab work done. So our nice quiet Sunday got interrupted by a trip back to the hospital in the cold, cold weather for another heel stick. My brave boy slept most of the time and only cried a little through the heel prick. I was able to hold on to him and snuggle him a little while they did the pricking. And when I say “heel prick”, that is much too mild a description. They stick their little heels and then squeeze and squeeze for what seems like five minutes until they have filled a little vial with blood.
His bilirubin level was 15-something and so we went on home.
Look at our long, lean boy! He has the longest, skinniest arms and legs. Not to mention big ‘ole feet (just like his mama!).
We’ve been calling him “little bird” and “little pterodactyl” nearly since he was born. I think you can see in these pictures why we call him “little bird” – his mouth is like a bird looking for food. It is adorable. And we call him “little pterodactyl” because his cry sounds like a pterodactyl (or what they sound like on tv).We also decided to clip his little fingernails because he kept scratching himself and us. I didn’t end up clipping much – I was afraid I would hurt him, and instead resorted to using my file to file his nails down. His first little manicure!
Sunday night I did much better about bedtime. We didn’t swaddle at all and put him in a footed sleeper instead, so that we could buckle him in and not have to worry about the swaddle coming undone. That night, Michael sat up with him for about 30 minutes, long enough for me to fall asleep with peace of mind, and then he went on to bed, too.
Monday morning we had our first pediatrician appointment. Our pediatrician schedules newborns first thing in the morning (8:00am) to get them in and out before the sick people show up. I appreciate that for sure, it’s just hard to get up and out so early with a newborn!
This started what was probably one of the hardest days of my life. Birth was the hardest physically, but this was the hardest emotionally.
He did so good at the doctor – he hardly cried through his check up. His weight (according to their very old fashioned scales) was 6 pounds, 3 ounces and his length was 19 and 1/2 inches. The pediatrician was concerned about how yellow he was, so she ordered another blood test. Rather than have us go down to the lab and be among the germs, they had the lab tech come up to our room. That was a great plan, until the lab tech got there and said they were all out of the heel prick things. Instead, they were going to draw blood from the crook of his arm.
That was absolutely horrible. I sort of held Hudson – he was still lying on the table, but I could hold on to him. That way I could hold his other arm down and try to comfort him, but it was awful to hear him crying so hard and to see them drawing blood from my tiny baby. I just laid my head down next to him and cried along with him as I tried to comfort him. I’d never felt so helpless.
After the blood draw we went on home. We knew sunlight was good to help jaundiced babies so Michael sat with him in the sun once we got home. It was too little, too late, though.
Not too long after getting home, we got a call that his numbers had jumped up to 19.5 and that we needed to come back to the hospital immediately. There was talk of an IV and supplementing with formula and overnight stays. As soon as I hung up, I started bawling. Looking back, I know that this wasn’t the end of the world, but at the time all I could think of was what a failure I was as a mother. That I wasn’t able to provide the food my baby needed in order to get the jaundice out of his system.
We packed up as quickly as we could and headed to the hospital. We got admitted and they put Hudson under the lights immediately. The plan was to leave him under the lights at all times except for when he was eating, and to get him to eat as much as possible to flush out his system. They really wanted me to supplement but I said that I was going to nurse first, then feed him my pumped milk, then we’d go to formula if we had to. I think that ruffled some feathers that I stood up to them and it may have made for a less-than-pleasant experience overall, but it is what it is. Breastfeeding is very important to me and I have hurdles to overcome already in that area, so I didn’t want to do anything that would mess that up – formula, bottles, etc.
It was so hard to see him under the lights. We could reach in and touch him, but I just wanted to hold him all the time, you know? Fortunately, the warmth of the lights and the fact that he was lethargic from the jaundice made it so that he mostly slept while he was in the box and didn’t fuss too much (not that it’s good he was lethargic, but it definitely helped when it came to getting him to stay calm in the box).
They checked his levels again after he’d been there an hour and they were still high – 18.3. When we I got the call with the results, the doctor started pushing for an IV and using (what I felt like were) scare tactics talking about blood transfusions and cerebral palsy and such if we didn’t do an IV. I fell apart halfway through the call and had to hand the phone off to Michael because I was crying too hard to talk or listen. I didn’t want to do the IV, I knew it would be so hard to see my tiny baby like that, but ultimately it was the best decision.
They came in and thankfully took Hudson somewhere else to do the IV. I hated letting him leave us, but I don’t think I could have handled seeing him get that inserted.
We stayed up nearly all night nursing, pumping, and changing diapers. The tiny stretch of sleep we did get was not restful because I woke up every time he moved to check on him in his little bili light box, and I was constantly worried that his little mask that protects his eyes would fall down.
We also had the most amazing night nurse ever. Every time it was time for Hudson to eat she would come in and help make sure he was latched correctly and actually nursing. She was better, in my opinion, than any of the hospital lactation consultants, and definitely the only person there who acted like we could actually take care of our child. I am so thankful for her encouragement and support that night.
Where he spent most of that 24ish hour time period
My little bright-eyed boy with his humongous IV.
At 8:00 am they did another blood test. His numbers had fallen from 18.3 to 11.9. I just bawled – I had just prayed for a 15 and never dreamed it would drop so low. I think that surprised everyone greatly. I know most of it had to do with the IV, but I was still very proud that we’d had such a significant drop without using formula and only a tiny bit of supplemented breast milk (less than an ounce, I think).
The doctor wanted to test again that afternoon, but they went ahead and took his IV out (left the port just in case, but no longer hooked up to a bag).
That afternoon I asked to meet with one of the hospital lactation consultants. That was probably a mistake. One of the first things she did was tell us to start bottle feeding (with my pumped milk) immediately. She said that it was important to get this jaundice cleared up before worrying about breastfeeding. While I agree that we needed to get the jaundice taken care of, I really thought the point of a lactation consultant was to help you with breastfeeding, not immediately put your baby on a bottle. She did show us how to feed him with the bottle so that hopefully it wouldn’t confuse him.
After she left, I sat on the edge of the bed and pumped with tears pouring down my face as Michael feed Hudson a bottle. Yet again, I felt so inadequate that I couldn’t supply my son with what he needed.
At 3:15 they came in and did his blood test. His numbers had gone down to 10.2 and we were discharged from the hospital. I was so incredibly happy to get to go home.
In hindsight, this wasn’t as bad as I thought while I was in the middle of it. Having to do the IV wasn’t as bad as I expected, and even supplementing with formula wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world. However, at the time with all the emotions and hormones and exhaustion it seemed insurmountable. The majority of the people at the hospital acted like we were idiots for not asking “how high?” the second they said “jump” and for trying to make informed decisions for ourselves.
And I know it could be so much worse. A 24ish hour hospitalization is nothing compared to those parents whose sweet babies are in the NICU for days or weeks or months and who can’t hold their babies. We are very blessed that ours was a very short ordeal and very small on the scale of things that would go wrong. But that also doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a big deal to me.
I felt stressed to my max trying to figure out what on earth to do with this tiny baby. I felt pressured to make decisions about my child that I wasn’t comfortable with. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and scared. I felt like a huge failure for not being “good enough” to provide my baby with proper nourishment. I was frustrated that we weren’t given any indication that the jaundice issue was a big deal, until that urgent phone call Monday morning. I was tired of hearing people tell me “you need to take care of yourself – you can’t care for your baby if you don’t take care of you”…how could I care for myself when we were back in the hospital and I was feeding around the clock?
I didn’t realize that letting him sleep long stretches without eating was bad. I’ve always heard “never wake a sleeping baby” so I wasn’t waking him up to eat as frequently as I should have to try to flush the jaundice out, especially since that made him extra sleepy and he wouldn’t wake up to eat on his own. I didn’t know that when they asked how many wet diapers he was having, they meant saturated, not just a few drops. He had plenty of pee diapers but they weren’t enough pee and I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that his long breastfeeding sessions didn’t necessarily mean he was actually eating much. I didn’t realize that I was on the way to having mastitis because my milk had just come in and I hadn’t even had time to notice the symptoms.
I’m pretty educated and have been around babies quite a bit, and I still felt this way. Plus I had/have a wonderful, encouraging support system. I can’t even imagine how much scarier this whole process would be for people without that support.
Not trying to throw myself a huge pity party, but I know if I feel this way than others probably be do, too. Parenting is so hard and scary. I have cried more and doubted myself more since Hudson’s birth than I can remember.
We were just so happy to be home and not have to go anywhere! And we were so happy to get to hold our little man as much as we wanted.
Thursday we had to go back to the pediatrician for another check up. Everything looked good – we was back up to 6 pounds 11 ounces. His pediatrician would like to see him back up to his birth weight (6 lb 14 oz) by next Thursday. His bilirubin was fine (10 something…didn’t even have to get blood drawn this time!). Everything else checked out fine and we go back in a week.
It was hard for me to believe that this was actually my due date. I was convinced I was going to go past my due date…and then here we were, having had Hudson for a whole week and I can’t imagine life without him now!
He loves to be held all curled up in the fetal position. His whole little body fits in Michael’s hand!
His uncles sent him this monkey as a get well present when we has re-hospitalized – so sweet!
He also likes to keep his legs crunched up like this. I wonder if that’s how he was folded up inside of me some of the time, because he really likes that pose.
And this is how we rounded out his first week…wide awake in the middle of the night. He seems to like to eat from about midnight until 3am right now, which is quite exhausting. Hopefully he’ll get his days and nights straightened out soon or else we may be zombies for the next few months.
Whew, what a week. Some parts were so incredible and others were horrible, but we survived. There is no way I could have made it without Michael. He has been a rock and held me as I’ve cried too many times to count. He has handled all the medical stuff when I was too torn apart to talk about it, he sits up with Hudson so I can sleep. He gets up with me for every feeding to help, changed a million diapers, and more. He is amazing.
I also have to say I don’t know what we would have done without my mom. She has stayed with us since we got home from the hospital and cooked for us, cleaned, done errands, dropped us off places so we don’t have to carry Hudson through the cold, and sat up with him at night so we could both sleep. I can’t believe I thought we could easily handle all this on our own…now I don’t want her to ever leave!
I’ve also had so much moral support from friends of mine who have answered my million questions, brought us meals, and checked up on us. I am so thankful for the love and support that has been poured out!
Parenting is hard, plain and simple. We’ve looked at each other several times over this week and asked “what have we done?”. I love Hudson more than I can ever describe, but that doesn’t take away the scariness and difficulty of being his mommy.
I hope this doesn’t come across as a sad, woe-is-me post. That’s not my goal. But I needed to share the emotions that have accompanied this week, as well as share some adorable pictures of our sweet boy :).