Friday, February 25, 2011

Life with a Newborn: Days 4 & 5

A few weeks ago, I wrote about about the day my second daughter was born and my feelings and observations on days 2 and 3 postpartum. Last week, Taryn and Jane highlighted the research explaining both the "Mommy Science"and "Baby Science" behind my family's experience. By sharing my personal story, followed by the science behind what I was experiencing, we hope that we have highlighted some of the questions and concerns facing new parents. Today, I will continue my story with Days 4 and 5.

Day 4

The nurse came in to weigh Charlotte at about 1am (sounds like a strange time, but I wasn't asleep anyway!). We were having some trouble latching, but we were still feeding about every 2 hours and my milk had come in on Day 3. Charlotte had been losing weight, but I knew it was normal for newborns to lose some weight, so I wasn't worried. When she was weighed that night, though, she had lost a lot more than expected. The nurse explained that we wouldn't be able to leave in the morning if she lost any more weight.

A few hours later, I noticed that Charlotte's mouth was really dry and that she hadn't had a wet diaper in quite a while. Also, I was starting to feel engorged and the feeling didn't change when I'd feed her. Worried that she was getting dehydrated, I asked the nurse to bring me a breast pump to relieve some of the pressure and get some breast milk to feed Charlotte in case she wasn't feeding effectively. I also asked her to ask the lactation consultant to come in first thing in the morning.

By morning, Charlotte was lethargic and had lost even more weight, so it was clear she needed more milk than she was getting at the breast. The pediatrician suggested that we avoid feeding her at the breast until she stopped losing weight and the lactation consultant showed us how to syringe feed, which is basically just slowly squirting the milk into the baby's mouth.

Needless to say, Day 4 was very stressful. I had been looking forward to going home and I missed my older daughter. I was already having a hard time falling asleep and the events of the day made it even harder. Not only was I worried about my baby but I also knew that my husband wasn't getting enough rest (if my bed felt uncomfortable, how would that reclining chair feel for 4 nights in a row?). That night, I told my husband to go home to sleep. He protested at first, but eventually he was convinced that it was better for one of us to get some sleep!

Day 5

When Charlotte was weighed on Day 5 (at 1:30am this time), she had stopped losing weight, but hadn't gained any back. I mentioned to the nurse that I was worried that the syringe feeding was preventing us from resolving our latch problems, she suggested that we begin finger feeding until we could talk to the pediatrician and lactation consultant again. To finger feed, we attached one end of a small tube to the syringe and the other end to one finger and put the finger and tube into her mouth. We still had control over the flow of the milk (with the syringe), but she was able to suck on our finger at the same time.

My husband left to go home around 2:00am and Charlotte and I were fine until about 4:30 am. The nurse came in to check on us and when she asked me how I was doing, I just lost it. I had been getting less than 4 total hours of sleep a day and was frustrated that we were having trouble breastfeeding. She listened to my concerns and then suggested that she take the baby for a short time so I could rest. I was very hesitant and felt silly for sending my husband home when I clearly needed the help, but she assured me that she would be right across the hall and would bring Charlotte back as soon as she gave any indications of hunger. I let her take Charlotte and within minutes, I was asleep. I woke up 2 hours later and felt so much better.  Looking back, I realize how important it had been to share my frustration and that I probably wouldn't have done that if my husband had been there.

In the morning, when Charlotte was weighed again, she had started gaining back some of the weight she'd lost. The doctor gave the OK to start feeding her at the breast again and lactation consultant helped us weigh her to determine how much she ate. Around 10:00 am, the nurse came in to tell us we were being discharged. I was happy and terrified at the same time. I couldn't wait to get home, but I was worried that Charlotte would start losing weight again. We scheduled an appointment for the next morning to have her weight checked again and by 1:00 pm we were on our way home!

As soon as we got home, Olivia took Charlotte on a tour of the house (with Daddy's help, of course). She was so excited to have us home and was eager to take care of her new sister! When Charlotte wasn't latching well, we would finger feed her and she seemed more alert than she had been in the hospital.

Olivia was 2 1/2 months old when she came home from the hospital, so bringing home a newborn was a new experience for us. Being home relieved so much of the stress I was feeling! A friend brought us dinner and we spent the rest of the day just resting and getting used to having 2 children to care for!

Next Time: Mommy Science

1 comment:

  1. Glad to here that your family is reunited, at home!