Phew! What a complete and total whirlwind the last 12 days has been. I’m still trying to get my head around how 12 days has gone by since we became a family of 4.
As could be expected, the first week has been a roller coaster of really challenging days and moments, and really wonderful days and moments as well. Taking care of a newborn is H-A-R-D, and layering all of that responsibility on top of looking after Austin and trying to keep him happy has really been a test for Matt and I so far, but I think all in all, I can say that we’re surviving, and doing our best.
Our C-section was on Friday December 27th, which landed us right in the middle of those crazy in-between holiday days where you don’t remember your last name, you eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you couldn’t tell someone what day of the week it was if they had a gun to your head. That made things a little extra challenging for us with trying to get appointments for Carter booked, get discharged from the hospital, and manage all of the visitors in and out of our house over the rest of the holiday days.
Although I was still a little bit sore on Sunday December 29th, both Matt and I were anxious to get out of the hospital and get home to Austin. Austin came to visit in the hospital with his grandparents a couple of times, and it was totally heartbreaking for me to not be able to get out of bed and scoop him up like I normally would. I could tell that he was starting to get a bit confused with everything that was going on, and was really anxious to get home and start creating a small bit of normalcy for him.
There were two small complications with Carter that worried us a little bit, but both seemed like they could be overcome. First of all, Carter’s kidneys (which had been slightly swollen on all of my prenatal ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy) needed a follow-up ultrasound to make sure that the issue was resolved. This couldn’t be booked for a few days until Tuesday, so waiting around in the hospital for an extra 3 days wasn’t really a good option. Secondly, poor little man was not showing good weight gain in the first few days of his life, and had lost nearly 9% of his birth weight by the end of day 2.
Feeding was a constant struggle for Austin and I right from the beginning of his life, and Carter and I have had similar (and also, different!) struggles this time around. In the hospital, Carter was very “mucousy” and seemed to have a little extra fluid and mucous buildup in his little body. We were told that this was really normal for C-section babies because they haven’t been “squeezed” through contractions (lol) and therefore the mucous doesn’t get expelled the same way as vaginally delivered babies. Carter was spitting up quite a bit, and his breathing was pretty rattly and mucousy as well, which totally freaked the hell out of me. Neither Matt nor I really slept at all the very first night of his life because we were both terrified that he was going to spit up and choke on it in his little bassinet. The mucous, unfortunately, also wreaked havoc on our first few days of attempted breastfeeding because it was hard for poor little man to breathe and eat at the same time with all of that extra gunk rattling around.
It seemed like Carter was doing pretty well with breastfeeding, it really did. He was much more agreeable to trying the whole thing than Austin was, that’s for sure! Austin would scream his little head off everytime I got near him to breastfeed. Carter wasn’t at all like that, but more seemed kind of listless and distracted while we were trying to feed. Most of the time early on, he would actually fall asleep while feeding, but we had picked up a few tricks of the trade from our first breastfeeding experience (re: fail), and were hand-expressing colostrum and giving it to Carter by syringe and / or by spoon. For that reason, I was feeling pretty confident that things were actually going pretty well…until I saw the huge drop in his weight after the first day. My heart just sunk like a stone.
After the first day and a half, Carter had dropped from 8lbs 15oz to 8lbs 6oz which was pretty scary for us. The nurses did reassure us that C-section babies usually come out a little puffy and full of extra fluids that I had had pumped into me during the surgery, so their birth weights may be a little extra inflated. But still…it was a pretty tough blow. We had a lactation consultant come and see us in our hospital room, but unfortunately for her, she really picked the wrong time to come and see us, because she came in first thing in the morning after the night that we had been awake throughout, woke us and Carter up (after 8+ hours of trying to get him to sleep comfortably), and insisted that we try to feed him that instant, even though we had just finished a feed not more than an hour earlier (“it’s always time!!” was her now famous line….lol). Not surprisingly, the session with her in the room did not go well, and she then waltzed out of the room mid-feed claiming that “oh I think he’s just too sleepy to eat right now!” and left us with a screaming baby…again lol
Anyways, we made a follow-up appointment at the breastfeeding clinic for later that week, and kept on ploughing ahead with the discharge paperwork. Our nurse was a little bit out of it, and seemed to be very confused about everything that needed to be done to discharge us (she actually seemed to be pretty confused about a lot of things lol I can’t even count the number of things that she bustled into our room saying that she had “forgot to do”). Finally, somewhere around 4pm, we were cleared to leave the hospital, and started to shuffle our way out of there. And I really do mean “shuffle” because we were kind of just sent on our way with no mention of a wheelchair or any help for me! I ended up walking all the way through the hospital (very slowly) and out to the parking garage 48 hours after surgery!!
We made it back to our house after a bumpy and painful car ride for me, and Roy and Dianne had been cleaning our house like fiends while we had been in the hospital, and things were looking really good when we came home (much to my nesting relief lol). My parents arrived shortly after we got home as well with Austin, and I was so happy to see him and to be home with him. I found that first evening difficult getting on and off the couch or really doing much of anything, and pulled my stitches a bit at one point getting off the couch but Matt and our parents were all really helpful and pretty much brought me anything that I needed. Stairs (into our house and up and down to our bathroom) were really challenging for me too, but got better every time that I did them.
Similar to the way that we did it with Austin, Matt and I have been sleeping on the couch downstairs with Carter in his bassinet this week. We find it easier to be on and off the couch and closer to the kitchen / supplies for the immediate term, plus it’s just easier for me to get on and off the couch as opposed to climbing in and out of our super tall bed for the first few weeks as well. I think we are planning to move back upstairs to our bedroom the weekend before Matt goes back to work (gulp), and I’m looking forward to it… I’ve had enough of couch sleeping for a little while I think!
As with any newborn baby, the two biggest variables for us have been feeding and sleeping. Feeding has been a total emotional roller coaster, and so incredibly frustrating, just as it was with Austin. Although we had what I would call a decent start with breastfeeding, it’s a constant work in progress. Some feeds go so well, and I think, “man, we’re killing this!”, and others are so bad that I just want to scream and break everything in the house. I’ve been pumping again just like I did with Austin, and we’ve been offering top-ups with the bottle after every feed. Sometimes Carter takes the bottle like a hungry hippo, and other times, he can’t be bothered. We’ve been followed closely by our family doctor and by the breastfeeding clinic to monitor his weight gain, and so far I think we’ve been doing enough to keep everyone (including me) happy. He hit 8lbs 11oz by just past 1 week old, which I was thrilled by, and we just had him weighed again today (Wednesday January 8th) and he was up another 2oz to 8lbs 13oz. It’s hard for me to know how much of this can be attributed to breastfeeding vs. to the top-ups that we’ve been giving him though…which makes it hard to commit to one vs. the other. My nipples have been quite sore, and earlier in the week, I even had to throw out an entire bottle of milk that I had pumped because my poor nipple had cracked right in half and was gushing blood into the bottle, resulting in an entirely pink bottle. Talk about freaking out when I saw that lol… for now, I’m trying to breathe deep, and just keep on keeping on, one feed at a time. I find it overwhelming to look further ahead to our “long term” plan, so am trying really hard to go against all of my natural, type-A instincts, and to just go with the flow. Some days, and some moments, I do better at this than others. Sigh.
Sleep-wise, Carter hasn’t been doing too bad at all. Either that, or Matt and I are just used to sleep deprivation now, and can survive on 4 hours of sleep a night no problem lol our biggest issue has been that sometimes (usually during the middle of the night lol) Carter can take well over an hour to settle and go to sleep after a feed; which really cuts into the amount of time that we can sleep between feeds. He typically wakes up to feed about every 2 – 3 hours, but he’s gifted us a handful of 4 hour stretches overnight which have felt soooooo super good. Low expectations friends, low expectations. I know that this phase isn’t forever and that sleep will come again, so again, I’m trying not to freak out too much about how tired I am, and to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
My recovery has been a glowing, happy spot for me over the past 12 days. I can’t even begin to tell you what a huge, enormous, gigantic relief it is to me to have our C-section behind us, and to be recovering as well as I am so far (*touch wood*). As I wrote in Carter’s birth story, my healing has been so linear and straight forward, I’ve been meeting all of the milestones and checks and balances, my pain is decreasing every day and I’m able to do more and more each and every day. I’m almost entirely off pain medicine now (day 12), and am only taking 1 Aleve pill every 24 hours. The real challenge that remains for me is that I still have just over 4 weeks until I will be able to lift anything of significant weight (i.e. Austin)…. and really that is the biggest obstacle that we’re facing right now, because it severely handicaps us as a family that I can’t pick up Austin, or really get down on the floor and play with him too vigorously.
Poor Austin has had a tough first week adjusting to our new reality as a family of 4. There’s been a lot of things working against him: the remnants of the disastrous Christmas holiday schedule (eating, sleeping, everything has just gone out the window!), a really brutal, lingering cold, being back and forth to my parents house and being looked after by different people every day, and ultimately, a new little being to share our attention and love with. It’s all led to quite a number of tantrums, outbursts and really out of character behavior for our sweet little man, and it’s just breaking my heart into a million pieces. I would give anything to be able to pick him up, but have to settle for kneeling and seated hugs right now…when he’s willing to give them to me. Austin is really clinging to Matt right now, and seems to want as little as possible to do with me. Punishment for how much I’ve had to pull back from holding him etc? I don’t know… sigh. I could just sit down and cry about this all day and all night, but I know that that won’t help matters any, and so instead I’m just doggedly trying every minute of every day to be involved in whatever Austin is doing, to get excited about things that he is excited about, and to remind him as much as I can in every way how much I love and adore him. I’m not sure that any of it really counts for him, but I tell myself that it does, and that in 4.5 short weeks, this period will all be behind us, and he will never remember the awkward start that we had. This has certainly been the only downside of the C-section so far.
Our sweet little Carter-Bee (as I’m affectionately calling him lol) is just that: the sweetest, most docile little baby. I just love his sweet little face, and his wiggly little body so much! He’s really been so amenable to everything that we’ve put him through so far (lots of appointments back and forth to the hospital – including an ultrasound on his kidneys when he was only 4 days old! Eeks!) and all in all has made things pretty simple for us. He doesn’t seem to have the same set of pipes on him that Austin did as a baby, and has the saddest little cry ever that just breaks your heart. He doesn’t pull it out very often, but when he does, man oh man, get the tissues! Thankfully, the ultrasound of his kidneys went well, and the pediatrician didn’t notice any swelling at all, so that problem seems to have resolved itself with his birth.
Matt’s parents left for home at the very end of week 1 / very beginning of week 2, so for the past few days, we’ve been settling into our new routine as a family of 4. Matt goes back to work in another 4 days, and I’m freaking out just a tad about how I’m going to get Austin out the door to daycare with Carter in tow, and then take care of Carter all day all by myself… but once again, trying to take things one day at a time and not borrow anxiety from tomorrow. Today has enough all on it’s own 😉
Anyways – I think that that’s about it for our first week as a family of 4! I’m proud of Matt and I (more Matt than me to be honest – he’s really been a champion this week while I’ve been kind of useless at least for the first half of the week) for soldiering on and getting things done. Although the newborn phase is definitely kicking our ass, I feel like it may be kicking our ass slightly less than it did the first time around?! Carter seems happy, and I know that Austin is too (deep down sometimes lol)… so at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.
Back next week with our second week update!