I figure I should take advantage of this quiet time.
My son is 19 days old today. Every day I figure up how old he is and mourn the previous day of his life because he'll never be that age again. Seriously, it's heartbreaking how fast he's growing up. In grown up time, these past 19 days feel like they've crawled but in baby time- in the time he's now awake and more alert- time is flying.
So much has happened, I don't know how I'll ever be able to write about it all. Let me start with the bad. From what I've heard, the first two weeks are the hardest and we get a pass on the first week. Picking up where I left off, we continued the trek back and forth to our pediatrician every single day of his first week of life. Including Saturday. And on each and every one of those days, his foot was pricked to draw blood for his jaundice and he was weighed. Each day, he lost more weight and the supplements went up (though his jaundice was getting better). We were force feeding this child and he still wasn't putting on weight. By Saturday, I was hysterical. Not only hormonal and sleep deprived, but I felt like a failure of a mother. I'm supposed to be able to care for my child- hell, my only job is to keep him alive- and I was failing. C did his best to tell me I wasn't a failure, but I couldn't help the way I felt. That day, we saw another pedi in the practice who received the brunt of my feelings via tears. When C walked into that room and told me he'd lost another ounce, I lost it. Soon after, the doctor came in, startled to see a parent in tears before he'd even said hello. My feelings of failure soon turned to rage because, after looking at Carter's data, and verifying he'd been on "phototherapy" since Wednesday for his jaundice, he said the following. "I can see that you're obviously frustrated with this situation, but I really wouldn't expect him to gain any weight while on phototherapy since it kind of dehydrates them. You're maintaining and that's what I'd expect to see."
Uhh. WHAT? No one had shared that little tidbit. So, here we've been browbeaten over his weight loss every single day for a week and NOW we hear this? Seriously. Rage doesn't even begin to cover it. I was pissed at my young-ass pediatrician and I was pissed at the "lactation consultant" who wasn't helping us but more alerting the media with every loss. (We'd later learn she wasn't even a real lactation consultant but a WIC counselor with a breastfeeding lesson.
So, I did what any other insane mother would do. I looked elsewhere for help. Monday morning, I called the Lactation Center at the hospital.
I need to back up for a minute because I haven't addressed this issue yet. While we were in the hospital, one of the lactation consultants came to visit us to see how we were doing. She immediately showed concern over his "tongue-tie". This isn't our child, but it's exactly what his tongue looked like.
See the heart shape? Carter couldn't even stick his tongue our past his lower gumline, much less breastfeed properly. When I discussed this with out pedi when he came to check Carter in the hospital, he didn't seem concerned and said most kids are able to cope just fine. Even the other pedi we saw said, "Those ladies (at the lactation center) like to make a big deal about it, but it's usually nothing."
So, when I called to make an appointment with the lactation center, they were of course, happy to see us. When we made it apparent that we had researched tongue-tie and the procedure to clip the membrane and that we wanted it done, they were over joyed. So happy in fact, they called a pediatrician-type on duty at the hospital and had it clipped right then and there in their cubby hole of an office. There were maybe three drops of blood, one scream and he was brought straight to me to breastfeed.
Let me just say, there was a night and day difference. Suddenly, this child can eat! This whole time it wasn't me not providing enough, it was his poor, heart shaped little tongue not allowing him to eat! Not only had the stubborn doctors effected my child, but my milk supply was almost non-existent due to the lack of demand. So, I immediately went on herbs and teas to hopefully boost it. Wouldn't that just be ironic for him to finally be able to eat and me have nothing to give him? But alas, all was not lost. That was done last Monday. By Wednesday, he'd gained an ounce. By Friday, he was up three ounces. Yesterday, we went back to that damned pediatrician for his two week well baby appointment and he was up another 3.5 ounces bringing his weight to 6lbs 15.5oz. Can we just call that 7 pounds and get a hallelujah?!!
There is certainly something to be said for taking control of a situation and finding another way. I'm usually a pretty big pushover, but I can honestly say, this was the first best decision I'd made for my child, damning the consequences. My child will have fat rolls in no time... just weight and see.
So, that's been my life for the past 19 days. Eating every 2 hours, supplementing with formula via fingers and tubes to now, finally gaining weight. I'm not even complaining about the lack of sleep or the screaming during diaper changes and I'm not complaining about being confined to this house. My child is thriving and for that, I'm the happiest mom in the world. Now if you'll excuse me, my baby is hungry!
You can see where his frenulum (the membrane we cut) used to be attached. To me, a crying baby never looked so good.
If you haven't heard, our baby boy made his early debut on Saturday, 01/03/09. Carter weighed 7lbs and 6 oz and was 20" long. He's actually 19.25" long, but who's counting? Perfect is perfect. Because he was breech, we had a c-section scheduled for 01/13, but he had other plans since my water broke Saturday morning about 8am and he was delivered (via c-section) at 11:28am. I guess the doctor on call had plans for the day because no one wasted any time (which I appreciated). I was having mild contractions by the time we arrived at the hospital, but nothing too painful. I never knew how a person could fall so completely in love with a tiny little creature in a split second, but that's exactly what happened the moment I heard his first cry. Sight unseen, I knew we'd made perfection. As for his head, it was 14.5" around which elicited a "WOW!" from my doctor when she came to see us on Monday. She was out of town (on a cruise) for the delivery. Of course, he looks nothing like Cartman (from Southpark) or Hoss Cartright (Bonanza).
We were released to come home on Monday and have been on a whirlwind ride ever since. When we left the hospital, his weight was 6lbs 14 oz, but no one was concerned since some weight loss is normal. By Tuesday at the pediatrician visit, he weighed 6lbs 9oz which was past our allotted loss of 10% of his birth weight. I'm nursing, but my milk had just started to come in yesterday, so we had a visit with an awesome lactation consultant and received some formula to supplement with at every other feeding. Needless to say, I was NOT happy about the formula since I had grand plans of exclusively breastfeeding (Since I'm built for it!). The nurse showed us how to "finger feed" which means Carter sucks on our pinky finger while we squirt formula into his mouth via a syringe. Therefore, he's sucking and getting milk all at the same time with no confusion-- other than how Dad's finger makes milk.... ;-) So far it's working great. We go back for a weight check this afternoon, so we're praying he's gained something. We're feeding every two hours and supplementing with formula (on top of breastmilk) at every other feeding. I'm sure this is way more information than anyone cares about, but I'm pretty impressed with how we're doing.
Also at our visit yesterday, the doctor checked his bilirubin levels for jaundice. He called mid-afternoon to let us know that his levels were too high for his comfort and that he would arrange for a "blanket" to be brought out to us. It kind of ticked me off because that was the first I'd heard that he could be jaundiced-- everything up until then was "within normal levels" and was nothing to worry about. So, we went from "normal" to jaundiced. We had the "blanket" delivered and promptly put poor Carter in the contraption. It's hardly a blanket and is more like a belt that wraps around his mid-section that emits UV light. We're "killing the bad billy's" no matter how uncomfortable it is. Clint and I took turns sleeping with him in the living room- either on the floor or in a chair-- which made for a long night. We survived though and are hopeful that we don't have many more days of this treatment. It's for the best though, I just feel so sorry for the poor little toot.
As for me, the recovery from the c-section has been fairly easy. Sure, I'm sore but nothing like I anticipated. I was up and walking the day after delivery and the nurses were astounded that I was standing up straight and getting around so well. I didn't realize there was another option. It's only gotten better. I can tell when it's time for more pain meds, but they're pretty low grade and just take the edge off the pain so I can get around easier. My staples are being removed this afternoon, so I'll no longer have a smiley face with braces in my lower abdomen!
All in all, it's been a tiring, awe inspiring few days. We're trying to catch naps here and there but there's just so much to do. It's hard to believe he's only four days old and already I can't remember life without him. I'll try to send pictures out regularly, so let me know if you get sick of seeing our kid. Oddly enough, we can't take our eyes off of him. I'm sure I'm leaving out important details, but this is the important stuff. Thank you for the calls, texts, good thoughts and prayers. Keep them up- we're total newbies at this parenting gig, after all!