It's hard to believe that S is already 11 days old! I'm starting to appreciate the sentiment we've heard from so many parents to enjoy our little one while she's young as "they grow up so fast!"
On this note, I decided to fully document S's first month on a daily basis, as there is so much learning and growing during this early period and we wanted to capture all the experiences and milestones (along with lots of pictures of course!)
Day 1: Wednesday, November 24
Following S's birth at 8:19 AM, Chris and I spent a good 3-4 hours holding and cuddling her close. She spent most of this time crying and sleeping, and didn't enter into the quiet, alert period which many babies do soon after birth. I wasn't able to get her to breastfeed either. We assumed this was probably because of the stress she underwent having to be immediately whisked away and suctioned, but it was still early so we weren't too concerned. Beth stayed with us for a couple hours as well, which was nice.
S's visitors started to arrive shortly after noon, beginning with Chris' sister Tracey and my mom. Tracey physically entered the room first, but turned down the first hold as she said she couldn't hold her before her grandmother. :) According to Chris, Mom "looked like she was going to have a seizure" when she first entered and saw S ("...but at least she was in the right place" he added). Look at the proud Grandma!
Aunt Tracey got to spend some time with her next:
Soon after, Aunt Becky, Paul, Papa Charlie, Nana Linda, Aunty Maryana, Uncle Mike, Aunt Anne Marie, Cousin Hailey and Aunty Ange came to visit her as well. What a day! Aunty Ange was just about due to have another little one of her own!
Pictures of all S's visitors can be found in my FB album.
Once the last of our visitors had left it was about 8:30. I tried to nurse S a bit more but I still couldn't get her to latch, so I expressed some colostrum and fed her a few drops from my fingers. One nurse named Mary was able to get her to latch momentarily but she was just nibbling and not really feeding in a nutritive fashion. The nurses said the expression and finger feeding should give her enough nutrition for her first day, but that we'd really need to work on things the next day. Chris and I spent a lot more skin to skin time with her that night and I believe we managed about 3-4 hours of sleep. Chris also ended up changing about 4-5 meconium diapers the first day as well, so at least she was eliminating well!
Day 2: Thursday, November 25
S and I started the day with a 9:00 AM breastfeeding class conducted by a lactation consultant named Brenda. About 4 other mothers & babies joined along with us. I was starting to feel frustrated and anxious as a couple of the other mothers were able to nurse their babies right away but we were still having such difficulty. Brenda came over and tried to help me latch S. She latched for a few seconds but then came off and was quite agitated. Brenda told me she'd come by our room a bit later for more dedicated support.
Chris and I dedicated the rest of the day to getting this nursing thing down. When Brenda came by we had our first pseudo-successful session. S stayed latched on for a few minutes and she was swallowing, which was great progress! I still felt the various positions to be quite awkward (especially in my own state of recovery) but was starting to get the hang of things. I also started using a breast pump to encourage my milk to come in. Another nurse named Jennifer helped us later in the evening. S still wasn't getting enough so Jennifer showed us how to use Lact-Aid, a device consisting of a syringe and feeding tube. Expressed breast milk and/or formula can be fed to Baby through the tube via your finger or as a supplement while Baby is latched on the breast. We tried both methods, and S seemed to take better to the finger feeding so we fed her a few times this way. We used expressed colostrum and ended up supplementing with formula as well. I was really hoping we didn't have to go this route, but S was hungry and the most important thing at this point was to get her some food!
All in all, Day 2 was quite exhausting, though it did end on a positive note. Sometime late at night or very early the next morning (can't quite remember), S was hungry and the oh-so-determined Mom in me took over. I got her to latch and do a small feeding on my own! It was very empowering and left me hopeful that we would get the hang of things after all!
Day 3: Friday, November 26
Sometime overnight, one of the nurses came in to do S's hearing test (she passed) and evidently give her a bath as well, as she was clean when we woke up in the morning. We managed a couple more tentative feedings with her, both on the breast and via finger Lact-Aid. We also watched a couple videos - Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding and the hospital discharge video which covered various topics from fever to postpartum depression. The staff wanted to ensure we had a nursing plan for her once we were discharged, so we met with Brenda once more. The plan was to nurse her when we could, pump after nursing and use the Lact-Aid device with either expressed milk or formula when necessary to "top her up". We were to also diligently track all feedings and wet & dirty diaper changes over the course of her first week. We felt pretty good at this point - we were getting there! Right before we left, a couple assistants came in to take S's blood for her PKU and hypothyroidism screening test. She wasn't a big fan of this!
We finally completed all the paperwork and were all set to leave at about 4:00 PM. It actually felt sort of bittersweet leaving the hospital. On the one hand, we were finally taking our new daughter home, but on the other, we'd no longer have the 24/7 support from the hospital staff who had been so wonderful. This was more than a little bit intimidating!
Here's a pic of Daddy getting S ready for her first car ride back home to New Hamburg! She slept the whole way, as expected. :)
When we got home, we immediately brought S upstairs to our bedroom to start getting all "nested". We had her bassinet all ready to go, and got out extra pillows, blankets and our various nursing accessories. Then I spent some nice skin to skin time with her, and Chris and I shared an emotional moment as everything was just starting to truly sink in. We were parents!!
The evening brought some additional concerns & challenges as S continued to sleep for 3-4 more hours. We were hoping to feed her within an hour or two of getting home, but we couldn't rouse her! Eventually we called Telehealth, and the nurse told us that if she didn't eat for 6 hours we should be concerned. We were at 5ish hours at that point, so we continued to talk to her, apply cool wash cloths to her forehead, etc. until she did eventually stir and we got her to do a few good feedings....whew! Looks like she has procrastination tendencies like Mom! ;)
Dad's up with S right now having some post-nap play time. She'll be hungry in a few minutes, so time to get ready for a feeding! More "early life" posts to come!