Monday, 26 January 2015

Baby L: weeks 3 and 4

Weeks 3 and 4 were definitely easier than the first two weeks. We had baby L's first clinic appointment with a lovely lady, and he had gained even more weight by then. The nurse was more concerned about me than the baby, as she says that the little ones are very robust. Haha. It felt good actually, her concern. At that stage I was still not doing so well. We were getting a fairly good breastfeeding rhythm going but my nether regions were not doing so well and I was still feeling pretty weak and faint all the time. Going out was always a challenge. Sitting was hell. turns out I had a terrible thrush rash down there that was making everything even more painful than before. Baby L also got a mild thrush rash on his butt, which caused us much panic but it cleared up in about two days, thank goodness. I had to put Canestan down there which was daunting but the rash seemed to clear and then things definitely improved down there. Still have postpartum bleeding though. After 9 months of no period, this seems like the period from hell.

We felt so good after seeing the nurse/midwife. She is lovely and full of advice and help and so calming.  I felt quite cared for as well which does help. She told us that milk production with the hormone prolactin kicks in when I am asleep (it is really true, I always wake up with full boobs!) and so I should be resting a lot, basically just feeding the baby and resting. Of course that is easier said than done but with an amazing guardian angel like G I did lots of resting until he had to go back to work on week 4.

Oh man I was bummed when he had to go back to work. He helped SO much. He was chief nappy changer and helped in a million ways. The baby is also easier to calm when he is around as the smell of milk on me seems to make him quite wild. But I survived the first week on my own, not that I was really on my own for most of it, as my mom was there too. But I did find it hard. Some days he just cries, feeds, gets changed and then cries again. No naps at all. Other days he is better. I think he misses his dad, who is far more capable than me. His dad also takes him for walks around the garden, whereas I spend most of the day topless and rarely venture outside.

Today (start of week 5 but his 4 week appointment) we went back to the clinic and Squirmy weighed 4.5kg! So he gained half a kilogram in two weeks, which is on the high end of the curve. What a heffalump. He is getting really heavy and I already struggle to lift him. I have wrist strain from hoisting him up. He is so tall and needs to eat so much, I just hope I can keep up with his food demands. It feels like I have been breastfeeing for a lifetime but it has only been 3 weeks. I hope things continue to improve and we can keep this going.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Baby L: week 2

Week two of baby L's life does not stick out in my mind like week one, but it was still pretty tough. My mom was still around helping and cooking for us and that was so great. G was home (he took 3 weeks off) and so things could have been worse.

That week I figured out that we had been underfeeding the little guy because my milk supply was very low due to all the interruptions in feeding. After some panic and tears this brought me to mad bouts of pumping after every feed to increase my supply. My poor boobs were raw and my wrist nearly fell off because I had a manual pump. At some point G bought me an electric pump as well. These things cost a fortune, as so many things related to babies do, but it was taking forever to pump both boobs manually each time. It took a while for my supply to increase and I spent my nights alone in our room pumping and dripping milk everywhere and sterilising everything again and again. We supplemented baby L with my pumped milk quite a lot.  We have breastmilk ice cubes in the freezer right now.

I cannot remember which day it was or even which week it was when I decided to stop pumping and trust my boobs. It was probably week 3. But since then I am exclusively breastfeeding and I am not sure if I am producing enough for the the little guy.

After all that frantic feeding and pumping we were still scared and upset about him being underfed. G took him to the medical clinic across the road from our flat and on the Friday he had regained his birth weight. This was the target we had needed to meet and we had met it!

Despite all the guidelines of allowing only boob into a baby's mouth for the first 6 weeks (in the first week of his life baby L had sucked on boobs, bottles, syringes, fingers and dummies) baby L was fine. He taught himself how to latch better and breastfeeding improved quite a lot.

Now in week 4 I still have one badly mauled nipple and we do still have other breastfeeding challenges but things are easier than weeks one and two, that is for sure! I am sure my mom thought I was insane when I was doing all that pumping but she never had any issues with breastfeeding or with supply. She never ever had to pump.

I am hoping to not need to pump again until it is time to introduce Squirmy to a bottle so that G can do at least one feed with him. They advise to do this at 6 weeks. I am hoping Squirmy will take to the bottle, as he had no trouble with it before. But some babies just won't take a bottle. We will see. Also if his weight is not so great I may need to start pumping again to improve my milk supply. Ugh. Let's hope for the best at the clinic.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Baby L: week one

I have been trying to write baby L's birth story but at the moment it is insanely long. I keep wanting to add every minute detail so that I don't forget anything, even all the gory details (the 3 Ps - pee poop and puke all made appearances for example :P ) and it gets longer and longer. It is not the type of thing anyone wants to read other than me but I want to finish it.

The first week of baby L's life was quite a toughie. It started out in hospital, which was amazing. I mean, I was all broken up and in a bad state but still, the nurses were like angels. I was meant to go into a general ward (I would have had it to myself as not a lot of babies are born at one time in my hospital) but because the whole birth was a bit traumatic and I was not doing thaaat well (kept nearly passing out, I think due to dehydration and low blood sugar and also I lost a fair amount of blood) and had a big wound etc G decided to pay for the room where he could stay in the hospital too. He stayed both nights I was there. It was very expensive. But it was AMAZING. He is amazing. He went from 0 to amazing dad in a few seconds. He is so good with the baby. It may have something to do with the fact that baby L and I did not get to do skin to skin bonding after birth so the midwife gave him to G and made G take his shirt off. Those two do have an amazing bond.

I was pretty out of it the first day, on a drip and a catheter and all sorts of things, but the angel nurses tried to teach us how to breastfeed and change nappies etc. G was a natural, me not so much. I found breastfeeding hard. Most of the nurses were great but one told me he had a good latch when he didn't and I was basically almost screaming from the pain. I am pretty sure none of the nurses though I would stick with breastfeeding. The rest of the time was touch and go. The big problem was that Squirmy would not wake up to feed. He slept 6 hours at a time and we did not know that this was bad. Then the nurses told us to wake him up but we had no idea how to rouse him. He slept like the dead. Only on day two did someone mention jaundice to us. I really wish he had had the jaundice treatment while we were in hospital but for some reason they just left it and waited to see if it would go away. It was pretty bad and he was really yellow. When the paediatrician came around I asked him about ABO incompatibility which I had heard could  cause quite bad jaundice. He looked surprised and then asked the baby's blood type. We had not been told. He asked the nurses to find out and sure enough baby L was A and I am O which means we could have incompatibility. All of a sudden they took the jaundice more seriously because ABO jaundice can take longer to clear. But still no treatment. I am so glad I had heard of the ABO incompatibility or maybe they would not have checked.

In the hospital we ate well and slept fairly well and felt cared for by the wonderful nurses. Private health care in South Africa is really amazing I have to say. I wish everyone could experience such angel nurses.

Going home was a shock to the system. As we were leaving my midwife told us that they wanted him to stay for jaundice therapy. As we were freaking leaving. This meant if I wnted to breastfeed I would have to stay in the hospital but would have to pay as medical aid only covers two nights. We were sad, especially G, who is my guardian angel and did not want to leave us after being with me 24/7 for the previous two days. Then the midwife said it was possible to hire the jaundice equipment and do the treatment at home. We thought it was a 12 hour treatment like at the hospital, so we said ok, and the medical aid would cover it too. We did not realise what we were getting ourselves into.

My milk was coming in that day but I had successfully fed squirmy in the hospital and it seemed like breastfeeding was going to work.

When we got home he immediately demanded to be fed and I was happy because he seemed to finally have gotten himself onto a 2 hour schedule like he was supposed to be. Then the jaundice lady came and explained that for the next 3 days we would have to keep Squirmy under her lamp 24 hours a day and he could not wear clothes so we would have to find ways to keep him warm. And he had to wear a blindfold the entire time.

It was so so awful for us. Both G and I were traumatised by blindfolding our little one. He would pull it off so we did not sleep for those 3 days. G would let him sleep on his tummy with the lamp on the both of them and apart from that there was no sleep to be had. We also worried constantly about his temperature. We both wished very much that we had gotten the professionals to do the treatment. Oh well. We all survived somehow. Me with more than a few tears along the way.

Back to our first day home all of a sudden my left boob jammed up. It was engorged but also infected just like that. From baby L being able to feed on it to him screaming and refusing to eat every time I offered it to him. All the advice says that if you are engorged or have mastitis you must get the baby to feed like normal, but he refused. So I had no choice but to feed him from the right only. Later that night the exact same thing happened to my right boob. Total blocked flow and infection. So we had a screaming naked blindfolded baby who could not eat.

I had been told that if you give your baby a bottle or formula before 6 weeks then the baby will never breastfeed again, so we kept trying with the boob, but eventually we had to admit defeat and G ran out to buy formula. I was in some distress over this but we had to let baby eat and help him to clear the jaundice.

The next morning I was in quite a state and asked the jaundice lady what the heck I was supposed to do (she is a midwife). I was sure my breastfeeding days were already over and was very upset. Also I was in a lot of pain from infection and jammed milk ducts. She called my midwife for me and she came over in the morning (all of these midwife ladies are angels too. It is amazing the support you can get as a new mom). She told me I had mastitis in both boobs ALREADY, probably because of retained fluid from the drip I had been on. She helped me use a pump (I was not going to buy one as I had no idea what I would use it for but at the last minute I asked G to go out and buy me one, glad I did). My left nipple was horribly chewed and damaged from the baby's hysterical attempts to feed. Sadly that nipple is still totally deformed and damaged and feeding is affected. She also helped me massage the blocked ducts, but he still would not feed on that boob. We managed to get him to feed on the right one though. The midwife then had to go deliver a baby and told me to hire lactation consultants to help me rectify the boob situation. She recommended that I hire two, one for each of the next feeds, so that is what we did (lots of money but worth it I guess.). The first LC was awesome and hand pumped my boob (all dignity is gone once you have had a baby it seems) and got me a GP appointment pronto so that I could get antibiotics for my double infection. She told us we would have to supplement with formula until all was well and that I should pump my left breast at every feed to keep the milk supply going.

Then the next LC came and gave me lots more information and told me to rather feed him formula that day because his weight was low and everyone was very concerned about his weight. It is weird to be advised to give formula by a breastfeeding advocate but it brought home how serious the situation must be. So we fed him formula. It was awful because it gave him terrible gas from the fast flowing bottle and for the next two nights he screamed all night. I was also convinced he would never breastfeed again.

Over the next two days the jaundice lady visited and finally we were allowed to stop with the awful lamp treatment. We were SO relieved. She also helped me with breastfeeding on the last day out of kindness and did not charge us. At that point I could feed him on the right boob only but he would take it. I also supplemented him with pumped milk and the jaundice lady showed us how to feed him with a syringe while sucking on a finger so he was more used to breastfeeding type sucking.

My mom arrived from the UK to stay for 3 weeks and she was awesome. She cooked for us every night. I had dropped about 9kg since I had left the hospital and much as I wish I had dropped all my pregnancy weight (13kg) I was actually scared to in case it affected my milk supply so I made an effort not to lose any more as 9kg in one week seemed a bit dramatic.

Of course the stress did not stop there because baby L had become very sleepy after the lamp treatment and again would not wake up for feeds. He could sleep 6 hours and we would fight for hours to wake him up trying every trick the midwies had shown us. A few times we had to feed him in his sleep with a syringe. It was scary and upsetting. At first I thought he just had his circadian rhythms confused by the lamp. But by the weekend I was breastfeeding only and it took me 3 days to figure out that the real problem was that I had a tiny milk supply and the poor baby was being drastically underfed and his blood sugar was too low for him to wake up and feed. That was a realisation I made on week two of his life. Luckily we did syringe him at times so he did get some extra food. Of course when I figured this out (after pumping both boobs and seeing how little came out) I felt so so terrible. We were accidentally starving our little one, after all the other things he had been through. But during week one we had not realised.

I also got terrible diarrhoea from the antibiotics and had to actually crawl to the toilet in order to avoid incidents. But I will leave out those really not fun details.

So yeah, Week one of baby L's life is not one I would want to repeat ever again.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Squirmy is here!

It has been just over 3 weeks since Squirmy (also known to us as Small Fry) was born. Things have been so hectic. I have not had time to look at the computer. I want so desperately though to record everything that has happened so I am going to make an effort to write it all down. It feels so different to the rest of my life, so worth recording.

He was born 28th December, his actual due date, which is very unusual, at 5.20am.  3.87kg and 54cm. He was (is) big. Not chubby, but long. That is why he weighs so much, he is a really tall baby. This is really odd because both G and I are short, G particularly so. We will see what being a tall baby means for his future. He also has a head of black hair and came out dark brown (due to jaundice) so that everyone looked at me suspiciously and called him an Indian baby. He is in my unbiased opinion pretty adorable, but he has lost his tan now that the jaundice is gone.

We had quite a rough start in my opinion, well, rougher than I expected. I know many people with much rougher starts, after all he did not need to go to NICU and I did not need a C-section. Nevertheless I definitely need some time to get over what happened, even though it is really not that bad. I am a bit sensitive to things relating to my body. Due to a few circumstances his birth was much harder than I expected and did not go at all how I thought it would. If I think about it now I may have chosen a C-section after all - at least when it comes to healing you know exactly what to expect! I am a real wuss that way. On the plus side most of the actual labour was bearable even though I had back labour, and I feel that I could do that part again (just don't talk to me about the pushing). G was the most amazing birth partner ever. We laboured alone together at home from about 10am on the 27th (although my labour started at about 7am but very minor contractions) until 11pm before we left for the hospital (I was already 8cm when we arrived!!) and it was actually about as wonderful as you could hope for and that part was much much better than I imagined it could be. I never imagined he would be quite that wonderful. He really is amazing.

I also cannot imagine anything coming out of that region ever, ever again, so Squirmy may be an only kidlet. Unless adoption. Or C-section. We will see. Everyone says I will change my mind. I have my doubts. My midwives acknowledged that I had a really rough labour and said I will never have such a tough labour again. Um, but how the heck do they know that? It could happen again! Maybe I just make long, big babies that cannot come out!

Let's not mention my stomach. Squirmy was so long that my stomach was enormous and all the extra skin and stretch marks are pretty hideous. As much as I want to do a million situps (not that I have the time) I need to wait for my stomach muscles to heal. My friends having babies now do not look like me. Their babies are short and chubby and their tummies are flat already. This is also hard for me but luckily I am so tired that I don't have much time to focus on the wreckage of my body. On the flip side, I have no more agonising hip pain can sleep on my bac, and that general uncomfy pregnant state is gone. If I could just heal up so that I can walk properly then my body will be free again! Except for the boobies. Those things no longer belong to me.

I want very much to write his birth story, warts and all, and memories of the first chaotic weeks, not that the current weeks are not chaotic. For now I just have to figure out how to get him to go back to sleep!