Blogged on a rainy Sunday, with Grammi and honey.
1 day old, April 5: We settled into our new room in the Mom & Baby Unit. We had a parade of more amazing nurses: Judy, Miranda, Lindsey and Cheryl. These women were all so considerate, kind and helpful. And their expertise was incredibly helpful to Jason and I as new parents! Paxton was circumcised today (sorry buddy!) and also had his first sponge bath (which he appeared to scream throughout). Paxton also had a hearing test, where they attached some type of electrodes to his head to check for brain waves in reaction to sound. I met with a second lactation consultant at the hospital, because I was still feeling pain when Paxton latched. No progress other than being told the latch looked correct. Awakened frequently throughout the day and night with people coming into check my vitals or for more tests. An exhausting night, trying to breastfeed with no success. Cheryl, one of the nurses, was so patient, and stayed with us most of the night as we struggled to latch. She also set me up with a breast pump and pump kit (which would come in handy later). I was still feeling strong afterpains when nursing/pumping – as strong as early labor contractions. Besides that, the painkillers I was given kept the nether region pains away.
2 days old, April 6: Jason and I are exhausted from regularly interrupted sleep, and poor Jason had to sleep two nights on this very uncomfortable cot – right next to the air conditioner, which was jacked down low because I was so hot (hormones). Met with a different lactation consultant, Becky, who was very sweet and patient with my non-stop crying spells from frustration with having unbearably painful latches breastfeeding. She was the one who advised to simply take a break from nursing to let my poor nipples heal (they were already cracked and bleeding 2 days in). She advised renting a hospital-grade breast pump and supplementing with formula when needed. It was such a huge relief to get a break from the pain. After watching the required video about baby care, and seeing Dr. Z one more time, we checked out of the hospital at 4pm. It was freezing cold outside, we were totally exhausted but looking forward to going home. I did feel pretty overwhelmed going home with a new baby and no guard rails. Jason and I were up all night trying to handle this cranky, hungry baby. It was really tough.
3 days old, April 7: Had an appointment with Paxton’s pediatrician to check his jaundice (bilirubin) levels, which were “intermediate to high” while in the hospital, at level 11. After checking his blood, Paxton had a bilirubin level of 15 (20 is the highest). It was awful watching his foot be pricked and blood drawn. We both cried. Later that afternoon, we had our first visit to an external lactation consultant, Julie Duncan. She was so kind and understanding about how difficult the first week is. She advised an ointment for my cracked, bleeding and sore nipples – and understood that we’d be feeding Paxton formula until the jaundice was controlled. We also picked up the LED light that poor Paxton had to sleep on to help the jaundice. It was like an iPad with a glowing light – very uncomfortable looking and we had to swaddle the light under him, otherwise he’d roll off of it. He was so pitiful and yellow and lethargic. It was so sad to see. Weight check: 7 lbs, 8oz
4 days old, April 8: Back to the pediatrician to check on the jaundice levels. Stayed flat at 15, meaning we stopped the progression (good news). This was a hellish night. Paxton was miserable, either from the jaundice/LED light, his circumcision or who knows what. He would not stop crying no matter what we did. Thank God for Grammi (my mom) who spent the night with us – and literally held Paxton in her arms the entire night. That’s the only way he wouldn’t cry. She is a saint!!! Jason and I finally caught a few hours of uninterrupted sleep – crucial, we were both zombies.
Speaking of my mom being a saint, she cooked and served us every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – that first week. Jason and I could barely function and certainly would not have eaten, if mom hadn’t been there to cook for us. Seriously, even microwaving a frozen meal felt like an impossible task. That, plus all of that been-there-done-that mom-pertise, was so helpful. Mom, we absolutely could not have survived that first week without you!! I love you more than words can describe.
5 days old, April 9: Umbilical cord stump fell off during the day. We were feeding Paxton pretty heavily. The best was to reduce bilirubin levels is to pee and poop a lot, so if he cried, we fed him. This ended up being a hellish night for me. Up every 2-3 hours with a crying Paxton or pumping breast milk (still feeling those afterpains). I somehow wrenched my back which made picking up or holding the baby pretty painful. Really bad timing on that. Cried my eyes out most of the day, and days prior. Feeling pretty sore in the nether region since leaving the hospital.
6 days old, April 10: Jason went back to work today. I bawled my eyes out that morning; from exhaustion from literally no sleep the night before and pure terror that I would be alone (Mom went back to work also) with the baby – and that I didn’t know what to do with him. Thank goodness, Mom came back after a couple of hours at work to take us all to the pediatrician. Bilirubin level: 9. Yay! We could stop with the LED light! Weight check: 8 lbs, 2oz.
7 days old, April 11: Paxton is one week old! Went on our first park outing at Tanyard Creek with mom! A little painful to walk but was good for my mental health, overall.
8 days old, April 12: Anne, my mother-in-law, arrives from Athens in the morning. She is not supportive of us feeding Paxton formula, as I’m waiting on my milk to come in and struggling to breastfeed. On second visit to Julie, the lactation consultant, we confirm that I still have raw spots on nipples. We think we make progress with a better latch, although I continue to feel pain, I think it’s from the rawness of past latching damage. Circumcision is healed. Weight check: 8 lbs, 1oz (with clothes on).
9 days old, April 13: Breastfeeding is chugging along since leaving Julie the day before. I still feel pain but am committed to get through it for Paxton. Still crying regularly. Still exhausted. Jason’s cousins (Sarah and Jennifer) are visiting from New Jersey, and I finally get to meet baby August! They come over for dinner, and I watch Jen easily breastfeed her son and try not to cry. Per Julie’s advice, Anne convinces Jason to set up a crib in our bedroom so Paxton can sleep near us. I feel so much better having him close by!
10 days old, April 14: Anne leaves. I’m still exhausted, frustrated and crying regularly. Still breastfeeding though.
11 days old, April 15: Start to nurse Paxton in the morning, and cannot get past the toe-curling pain. Remove him from the breast and find out that my nipples are bleeding AGAIN. Completely lose it, and bawl my eyes out. Agree with Jason to take a break from nursing in order to heal again. Back to pumping every three hours. It’s better pain-wise, but a different kind of hell for sure. Jason gives me the day off, and I putter around while Jason feeds, changes and soothes Paxton (since it’s Saturday). I didn’t hold my baby all day long. This was a very dark day.
12 days old, April 16: Easter Sunday. My godmother, aunt Susan, is in town and comes over to see our house and meet the baby with Tish. We go over to Tish and Clay’s house for Easter dinner that afternoon (after dealing with a flat tire – of course). It was a nice change of scene to be away from home, and having others hold Paxton. He still fussed a good bit though. I had to pump while at T&C’s – annoying. Still exhausted.
13 days old, April 17: Not as terrified about Jason going to work as I was the previous Monday, but still having high anxiety. Still crying regularly. Still exhausted. Grammi came over and we gave Paxton his first tub bath!
14 days old, April 18: Paxton is two weeks old! Picked up a rented hospital-grade breast pump. I’m considering the strategy of “exclusively pumping,” where you don’t nurse your baby, but pump breast milk, to be fed from a bottle. From what I’ve read online, EPing is very difficult to maintain and pretty exhausting too. I do find comfort in knowing there is an alternative (to formula feeding) if we can’t make nursing work.
Paxton’s Milestones and Noteables:
- Has a mysterious ability to pee outside of his diaper – soaking his crib sheets – while the diaper remains dry. We’ve learned to always put Paxton on a pee pad (like you use for puppy training) or else be doing a lot of laundry.
- He smiles regularly, in his sleep. I saw him smile for the first time in the hospital.
- Likes to sleep on his side. Will fall asleep on his back. Doesn’t really care for being on his tummy.
- Per our latching difficulties, Paxton loves to put his hands in his mouth or flail his arms around like an orchestra conductor. Trying to get the little guy’s mouth on a nipple can require two adults. There’s a lot of flailing, squirming and arms and hands everywhere.
- His eyes are now pretty focused, and he will watch your face intently, if you’re close enough to him. They are dark blue in color, but look like they are turning brown.
- Paxton makes the funniest faces when pooping in his diaper or pooting.
- My mom has been calling him “squeaker” because he squeaks.
- Minnie has been very sweet to the baby – amazingly! She licks the top of his head sometimes. She appears to be confused as to why he cries and why we are always getting up in the middle of the night. I hear ya, girlfriend.
As you may have guessed from this diary, the first two weeks of Paxton’s life were incredibly trying and difficult for me. The sleep deprivation, learning how to take care of a baby and recovering from childbirth is a LOT for any new mom to handle. But the struggles I’ve experienced with breastfeeding have really been debilitating. I cry pretty regularly, and I know my mom and Jason are starting to think it’s depression. But it’s more me beating myself up about not being able to get this breastfeeding going. It’s seems like the most natural thing in the world, something I didn’t worry about during pregnancy (and I worried about EVERYTHING). There’s no way to describe how painful, frustrating and mentally taxing it is, knowing that I can’t feed my baby, unless you’ve been there too.
On a more positive note, here are some cute photos!