In the next few days, hubby will be posting a guest post (or 2) about his perspective on baby G’s birth, but until then I’d like to write a little about baby G’s early life, before the details grow too fuzzy to remember.
The first few days of my daughter’s life passed in a blur, as I’m sure they do for many new parents. On day 2, it was discovered that baby G had a severe case of jaundice (why noone noticed earlier, I don’t know). For the 2 days prior, I had noticed that she was very sleepy – more than she should be, though the midwives insisted it was normal – and difficult to wake enough to eat properly.
I knew these were signs of jaundice, but time and time again I was told that she was acting like all newborns and everything was fine. When a new midwife finally saw her on day 2, she was shocked by how yellow she was and performed a TCB test – a series of lights pulsed on the forehead which judges the amount of bilirubin in the blood. It isn’t as effective as a blood test, but gives a good estimate. This test came back with readings much, much higher than they should for a baby 48 hours old, so we were sent around to the special care nursery. At this stage, I thought this was for a closer look and a blood test. I insisted upon taking baby G around myself, and so soon after a caesarian, the trip was slow at best.
When we arrived, there was a lot of fuss and bustle. A blood test was taken; baby G stripped down to just her nappy; a cannula inserted in her arm to administer extra fluids and any medications necessary; and a nasogastric tube inserted for feeding as I was told that for a little while, all of her feeds would need to be given via tube since she would not be allowed to come out from under her lights for any longer than it would take to change a nappy. She was placed on a bilibed, with several banks of lights all around her. I stood back, watching all of this activity and feeling utterly helpless. I was shown to the pumping room and instructed that even though my milk had not come in yet, I should pump every three hours for fifteen minutes on each side, to encourage my milk to come in and to give baby G as much breastmilk/colostrum as possible.
The whole process was very overwhelming, and completely daunting, and for a brand new mum, incredibly scary. I was sure that somehow, this was all my fault. I was desperately trying to pump enough milk to feed my baby the amount that the doctors said she needed to flush out the jaundice, which turned out to be so high that had it been a couple of points higher, she would have needed a full exchange blood transfusion. As it was, baby G was under very careful watch, and her bloods were being tested several times a day to ensure her levels did not creep too much higher. No matter how much or often I pumped, it was never enough. Every feed had to be topped up with formula, and it devastated me to see that I couldn’t provide my baby with the one thing she needed – my breast milk.
With each day, I had hope that baby G could come out from under the lights, or at least be able to come out long enough to breast feed, and a few days later I got my wish and was allowed to feed her myself – as long as I met the strict three hourly schedule, and allowed a formula top up through the nasogastric tube to ensure she was eating enough.
Five days after baby G’s birth, I was discharged from hospital. I had been ready to leave on day 3, physically, however since I lived so far away from the hospital and baby G was being kept, I remained admitted for as long as was allowed. Five days was the maximum, and my little princess was not seeming anywhere near her release, so alas, I was discharged without my baby.
On day six, baby G was finally out from under her lights, but her bilirubin levels had rebounded. No one was sure if we would be allowed to go home yet. On the morning of day 7, even though her levels seemed to be continuing to creep up, we were sent home, with baby G’s care transferred to that of our local country hospital. Though my local hospital didn’t have special care, baby G was well enough that their facilities would be able to care for her now, if her condition worsened at all.
Bringing baby G home was surreal, and the days after we arrived home are absolutely a blur in my mind now. Just a big jumble of feeding and changing nappies and all three of us cuddling together. Of middle of the night sitting up in bed, baby attached, me trying desperately to stay awake while I fed her. It seemed as though it would never end. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and the most amazing. I loved every single magical second in the middle of the night when it was just baby G and I, in the dark silence.
A couple of days later, we headed to our local hospital for baby G’s checkup. Her bloodwork was done, and her bilirubin levels had increased again. Had we been at the city hospital, I believe she would have been put back into phototherapy for a further 24 hours, however the paediatrician at home was happy to wait another two days and test again before making a decision. Luckily for us, two days later her levels had evened out, and we were completely discharged from the hospital system.
Baby G’s first two weeks of life were amazing and scary and harrowing and wonderful and unforgettable (yet completely blurry!) all at once. And while in some ways I’m glad that the hardest newborn days are past, in many other ways I just can’t wait to do it all again!