So here’s a look at what we’ve been up to the last few weeks (can’t believe its been a month already since she was born!).
We got home on Sunday, March 3rd and that whole first week seems like such a blur. Thankfully, Tim was home with me that whole first week and I found I really needed him. Even though he couldn’t feed her, he was able to help with diaper changes and allowed me to take care of myself as well as take care of her. I was pretty sore from the surgery still. I stayed on the painkillers for a few days after going home and that helped. I noticed mostly that I still wasn’t really able to bend over. I couldn’t bend over at the end of pregnancy because I had a huge belly in the way and now it was just that it hurt. Still, I got around ok. I couldn’t drive the first week, but since Tim was home, I didn’t really need to. I was incredibly swollen! I weighed myself the day after we got home and I had only lost 8.2 pounds since giving birth (and baby was about 7.5 of that!). I could see all the extra fluid from the IV’s they gave me. My ankles and feet were swollen and my face even looked really puffy. I think overall I still looked 5 or 6 months pregnant in the belly. It takes a while for your uterus to shrink back down, but even besides that all your organs had been pressed up to make room for your enlarged uterus. Add that to the weak abdomen muscles that pull everything in tight and its no wonder things still look very pudgy. I honestly wasn’t worried about it though. I was exhausted and caught up in being a new mom.
The night sweats were something else! I had heard that you sweat during the night, but I wasn’t totally prepared. I would wake up to feed Alexandra and look like I had just run a marathon. We’re not talking about a little perspiration. We’re talking about hair soaked, sheets wet, uncomfortable! I would get out of bed to feed Alexandra and be so cold! But I knew that was the body’s way of getting rid of all the extra fluids so I was ok with it. By that Friday when I stepped on the scale again I had lost 14.4 pounds!
Alexandra was doing great! She was breastfeeding very well, very often and she slept a lot. We took her to her first doctor’s appointment a few days after we were released from the hospital. They wanted to see her sooner because of everything that she had been through during birth. Everything was great! She was already back up to her birth weight which the doctor said was “surprising in a good way for a baby exclusively breastfeeding”.
With Tim being home and Alexandra sleeping a lot, it was a great week and we were both enjoying being new parents. Sure, we were sleep deprived, but we had expected that. I had my 30th birthday that Thursday (when she was exactly a week old). Because of everything going on in our lives it didn’t really seem like such a big deal. I didn’t put much thought into turning 30 at all or think if I had accomplished everything I had wanted to by this point in my life. I was a new mom with a wonderful daughter that I fell more and more in love with by the day. All that being said, it was the perfect day for me. Tim went out and brought home Jimmy John’s for lunch (the whole pregnancy I had to give up cold cut meats so I was so happy to enjoy my Jimy Johns again). We spent the whole day just being a family and lots of family and friends called or sent cards (or flowers from my sister and brother in law) to wish me a happy birthday. For dinner my brother and sister in law came over and we ordered Italian food. I even got Alexandra to take a bottle of pumped milk which allowed me to have a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer which I had also been craving during the pregnancy.
So if the first week was the “honeymoon” period, week 2 was…well if I’m honest, pretty much a nightmare, except for my little Angel of course.
Tim went back to work on Monday and I found it was a lot harder trying to manage by myself. I had all these grand ideas about keeping a perfect house and cooking great family dinners since I’d be home all day and babies sleep a lot, right?!
Suddenly our sleeping beauty started being awake A LOT more! And when she was awake, she was fussy and just wanted to feed ALL THE TIME! In our breastfeeding class they told us to always just feed whenever they want to because they could be going through a growth spurt and they will know how much they need. So I was feeding her every 30-60 minutes…and that’s from the start of one feeding to the start of the next! This continued day and night. Sometimes she would feed for 30 minutes, other times only 5 or 10. After a couple days of this I was more stressed out and exhausted than I think I have ever been in my life. If she was feeding every 30-60 minutes it meant that I was sleeping maybe 20-40 minutes at a time. Additionally, she was having tons of diapers. So I honestly felt like 24 hours a day I was in this diaper change, feed, burp, change…sleep for 20 minutes, repeat. I started reading things while I was spending so much time feeding and realized that she was over double the recommended diapers per day. They say a baby is getting enough to eat when they have 6 poopy diapers a day…she was easily going through 14 or more and they were all very wet, which I read is not good.
So I called the pediatrician. They said it could be acid reflux but that they don’t diagnose it or treat it until the baby is 3 weeks old. They suggested burping more frequently, putting towels under her bassinet mattress to raise it to a 30 degree angle, eliminating dairy from my diet (some babies immature digestive systems can’t process a protein in milk), as well as caffeine and chocolate. They also said that I was feeding her way too frequently and that was probably what was causing all the diapers. They told me to not feed her more often than every 2 hours. So I asked what to do when she cries and cries until her next feed: “you’re just going to have to find other ways to soothe her.”
So I started right away with everything they suggested. It was NOT easy. She still wanted to feed constantly so she would just cry and cry and I would want to rip my hair out waiting for 2 hours to pass. She absolutely would not sleep! When they are too tired, they can actually have a harder time falling asleep so it was just everything working against us. I felt terrible for her. She was so frustrated and seemed to be in physical pain after feedings and there was nothing I could do to comfort her. It really makes you feel like you’re failing at being a mom when you rock, kiss, talk to, sing to, dance with your baby and she just screams anyway. I started to feel like she didn’t need me for comfort…just needed the food I provided.
Well, the thing that happens when you’re establishing your breast milk supply is that it responds to demand. So since she was feeding so frequently, I started producing to keep up with her needs. Then when I started holding her off to only every 2 hours, my breasts started to get really full, engorgement. It was uncomfortable and I would have pumped to relieve it some except that I had no time to pump when I was either changing a diaper, feeding, or holding her trying to get her to stop crying.
A couple days later in the afternoon I started to really not feel great. I was freezing, even though my house was just as warm as it always was. I was exhausted and felt like I didn’t have the energy to do anything. So when I finally got Alexandra to sleep, I decided to try to sleep too. I got in my bed under the covers fully clothed and could not get warm. I attributed it to hormones since they were to blame for making me sweat like a linebacker at night. I attributed the tiredness to the fact that I hadn’t been sleeping very much. Well, I finally fell asleep for about an hour and woke up with a horrible headache. I decided to take my temperature since I was still freezing and it was 104.8! That was the highest fever I’d ever had to that point.
So immediately I checked Alexandra and Thank God her temperature was normal! So I called my doctor’s office and spoke to the on call doctor. She asked me a lot of questions about my incision but it seemed fine. She also asked me about my breasts…and at the time, they seemed normal too. She told me to take some ibuprofen and if it didn’t go down in 24 hours, call back.
Well, the fever did not break. I kept checking it at night and it was still well above 100. Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to change and feed Alexandra and as I was carrying her to the nursery I started to feel really dizzy and my feet even stumbled a bit. This terrified me because I feared that I could drop her. When I got back to bed I checked my temp again and it was 105.3! I woke up Tim and had him help me with changing her the rest of the night. Unfortunately Tim had to be gone the whole next day so I knew I was on my own. Fortunately though in the morning I had a very distinctive hard, painful lump in my left breast that was really red. That was one of the things the doctor had asked me about so I called back. I had developed mastitis, which is an infection of the breast that has to be treated with antibiotics.
There’s that saying “God never gives you more than you can handle” and on this day it was so true. Tim was gone. I felt awful and just wanted to sleep all day. Alexandra was great all day and went 3 hours in between most of her feedings and slept a lot, allowing me to do the same. The next morning when I woke up I already felt a lot better from the antibiotics. My breast was still very sore, but the fever was gone so I had some energy back. And Alexandra was back to being very fussy.
The next week was probably one of the hardest I’ve gone through. It tested me in a way that no endurance event I’ve ever done has. I love my little girl, and that never wavered through anything. However, I felt like my sanity was slowing slipping away day by day. I wasn’t sleeping and I started to dread the nights because they brought the hope of getting some sleep and I was always disappointed. The days were long and I couldn’t wait for Tim to get home from work so that I could have a break. Sometimes she would just cry and cry and cry and a couple times I just put her down in her bassinet and closed the door and sat right outside and put my head in my hands and slumped down and cried myself for 5 minutes before I could go back in and try everything all over again. Over the weekend Tim got to see what I was talking about. By Sunday afternoon he had already made the decision he couldn’t go to work on Monday, that he needed to help me. I was beyond thankful! I called the pediatrician again on Monday morning and they had us come in the same day.
They ended up diagnosing her with acid reflux, even though she wasn’t quite 3 weeks old. We got a prescription for ranitidine and with it, a full jar of hope! I knew it wouldn’t be an immediate fix (they say it takes a few days) but there was hopefully some relief in the near future. So we gave her the medicine (which is flavored MINT for a baby?) which she hated and spit out immediately after I put it in her mouth. Thankfully, I have an awesome sister in law that also dealt with a baby with acid reflux and told me that pharmacy can put grape flavor in it. So I took it back, the pharmacist gave me a hard time, but finally added it anyway (I was not going to take no for an answer) and Alexandra has been taking it much better ever since.
It didn’t work right away and during those days I remember I got through it by repeating to myself over and over again “this is not forever, its only temporary”. I knew even if the meds didn’t help, that colic doesn’t last forever in babies. I imagined that I was going through some kind of boot camp. There’s an end in sight and you won’t be getting by on 20 minutes four times a night forever. That seemed to make it at least bearable.
Finally, after a few days we did see a remarkable improvement! The first night she slept for 3 hours straight I wanted to cry in happiness! She was spitting up and vomiting a lot less and not always looking like she was in so much pain after feedings. She still seemed to have painful gas/bowel movements and that kept her fussy, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Additionally, we would have “good days” and “bad days” but the bad days weren’t nearly as bad as they were before. I was wondering/hoping that some of her digestive discomfort was due to the antibiotics I was on and that once I was done with them, she would improve. Any little bit of hope you can cling to when dealing with a colicky baby can make a huge difference in your mental health.