Now that Hannah is over a month old I can finally talk about her first week at home, which was a nightmare. Whenever I think that, I have to admit that there was nothing outrageously horrible, and there were no tragedies or emergencies. But it was a rough rough week for us. I debated about just not writing about it, but I do want to remember the good and the bad.
I think I have said this before, but Jayce was an easy baby. We knew that before and would readily admit that we were lucky, but we have come to realize over the last month just how lucky we were, because Hannah is not quite as easy. She is not difficult, probably more in the normal range, but since we were used to “easy” it seems a lot harder for us. That first week was rough.
On the day that we came home from the hospital, Hannah went for 8 hours without eating. I couldn’t get her to wake up enough to eat and I was STRESSED!
In the past, when people have made comments about not being able to wake up their sleepy baby to eat, I admit that in the back of my mind I just assumed that they weren’t trying hard enough. But I won’t do that anymore, because we tried everything with Hannah and she just wouldn’t open her little eyes. (It gave me a little comfort when we she had her heel pricks to check her bili levels and didn’t even wake up for that. If she doesn’t wake up when they draw blood, than there is little I can do with a cold towel!)
Anyway, she wasn’t latching incredibly well and the sleepiness wasn’t helping anything, so as soon as we got home from the hospital Chris headed out of town to the nearest Babies R Us for a nipple shield. We figured we’d remove one obstacle since the main objective at that point was just for her to eat. She did eventually nurse after that 8 hours, but I was stressed about her having missed 2 feedings, particularly in that period where it is so important for regulating milk production, etc, etc. I cried a lot that day.
That night, Hannah nursed okay. Not great but okay, and the next morning you could really tell. She was so yellow. She hadn’t had a problem with jaundice when we left the hospital, but she obviously had one then. I picked up one of my baby books and started reading. It reiterated several worries that I was already aware of: nursing at periods longer than 2-3 hours had an adverse affect on milk production (check), could result in jaundice (check), drop in baby’s weight (check), not to use a pacifier because of possible nipple confusion (check), not to use a nipple shield because it would decrease milk production, cause more nipple confusion, delay the baby learning to latch and nurse properly (check). I put the book down, went into our room and cried.
We called the nurses at the hospital (who had been AMAZING) because they had encouraged us to call if we had any questions or concerns. Actually I made Chris call because I couldn’t talk about any of it without crying. They told us to bring her in and they would weigh her and check her bili, so back to the hospital we went. We had only been discharged for about 24 hours.
They weighed her and she had dropped weight. They did a heel prick and she didn’t wake up. The results showed that her bili had gone from an 8 (which is no concern) to a 13.5 overnight, and they treat once it reaches a 15. I talked to the nurses about how nursing was going, they watched and told me that I was doing everything right, but she was a sleepy baby, a lazy nurser, and she has some problem with her tongue that kept her from being able to nurse well. They gave us a sheet of exercises to do with her to help draw her tongue out, which might help. I cried and cried at each stage.
Then we had a ray of hope. While we were at the hospital my milk came in. Hannah nursed much better that evening. We were confident that things were getting better. We had her bili checked that day and it was slightly higher, but the doctor was not concerned. He was confident that, now that my milk was in, things would be better. I still cried, but with a little less despair.
But that evening, around 11 pm, Hannah started crying and didn’t stop until 3:30 am. We tried everything to get her to stop. Mylicon, rocking, walking, nursing (which she refused), burping, swaddling, swinging, tv, over and over. Her crying turned to screaming, she was bucking and arching her back and we didn’t know what to do. We decided to try some formula, which calmed her for a second, and then she fell asleep, exhausted. We fell asleep exhausted and shaken. And yes, I cried.
The next day I removed every food that I had eaten the previous day from my diet. We about talked about reflux…and the dreaded colic. I called my friends whose children had allergies to their milk to see how their kids had behaved and tried to assess our situation based on their examples. We got the formula and bottles ready, and Chris bought nursery water in case we’d be making more formula that evening. Hannah was sleepier than usual that day, probably from crying for 4 hours straight as a 4 day old. We dreaded the evening and got more anxious as it got later in the day and night.
That night she cried again. Luckily it didn’t last as long and there were periods of quiet in between the screaming, which we took comfort in. We had the formula ready, which she didn’t drink tons of, but for some reason the bottle would calm her down enough to go to sleep. We were so glad that she was comfortable enough to sleep, but all of the bottles and formula had me stressed about all of the nursing issues that we had already been dealing with: milk production, not latching, nursing lazily, etc. As she looked sweetly into my face while taking her bottle of formula, Chris breathed a sigh of relief but I burst into tears. Sigh. It almost stresses me out now to remember how much crying I did that week.
Hannah ate well that day and her color was finally starting to improve. But that night, our dinner made my stomach sick, so we decided that I would just “pump and dump,” and we would give her bottles of my previously pumped milk. She ate fine, slept fine and didn’t cry at all. Since we were assuming that she was having stomach/gas problems, we put her to sleep in the bouncy seat so that she would be upright. It seemed to work. The next night was the same, no crying.
We were too nervous to celebrate. We didn’t know if the nights of crying were a fluke or if the nights of sleeping were a fluke. Chris was still saying the word colic every day, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I took comfort in the fact that we had eventually been able to comfort her, since most of the babies I knew of with colic were completely inconsolable every night. It was a tiny thing but I was holding onto it tightly!
We ended up at the hospital one more time that week, when her “about to fall off” umbilical cord stuck to my shirt and ripped off. And there was blood. The doctor fixed her up quickly, was not concerned, and I tried not to think about how many times my 1 week old had been back to the hospital since her discharge.
By her 1 week check up the dark cloud had lifted. She was almost back to her birth weight (only 2 ounces to go), her color was good, we had 4 nights of non-crying and the doctor dismissed the nights of crying as “probably just gas.” He had no concerns, and strangely, we had no questions. The nights of calm had calmed our fears.
At my 1 week check up my doctor said, “Well, have you had any baby blues? Been crying this week at all?” and I burst into tears. I was prescribed some “get out of the house once a day” and “get more sleep,” which worked like a charm.
That was a bad week, but it seems that we crammed all of the “bad” into one week, because otherwise Hannah has been a joy. We spent the month figuring out her little nuances, likes and dislikes. Though she has a few times a day when she is a bit fussy, they almost aren’t worth mentioning after enduring those few nights of screaming. There have been no more prolonged crying fits, and she is eating well and picking up weight steadily.
Aside from those periods of craziness, Hannah is the most beautiful and peaceful little thing. These pictures are all from when she was 4 days old, and might give some perspective to why I turned to Chris in the middle of that week and said, “I think I want 2 more babies.” We won’t talk about what he said.