It’s 11 pm, which means that Baby G has now been out of my belly and in my arms for just about 24 hours. And I have yet to sleep!
Jon is asleep on the fold out sleeper chair next to my hospital bed, and G is snoozing in the little bassinet on the other side – which explains why I haven’t yet slept. You see, the hospital where I gave birth doesn’t allow newborns to stay in the room if both parents are asleep. In order for the baby to stay and not be taken to the well-baby nursery, at least one adult has to be awake – with lights on – at all times. And since Jon is asleep, I am fighting sleep myself because even though I’m sure they would take excellent care of her in the nursery, I don’t like being away from her. I know that I’m going to have to cave in soon, though. Even the post-birth euphoria that’s kept me awake this long can’t last much longer.
Since I am exhausted and feeling spacy, I probably can’t manage a truly organized and coherent blog post, so here are some odds and ends from our first 24 hours since G arrived:
- For those who have asked or are curious, yes, I did have a c-section. My labor went from Braxton Hicks contractions to REALLY strong contractions in just a few hours. Brethine and stadol failed to stop or even slow down the contractions. So for several reasons ( I will write a longer birth story later), including the fact that G was transverse breech and the very powerful, nonstop contractions were stressing my previous c-section scar, my doctor advised us to go ahead and have a c-section. Forty five minutes later – at 11:45 pm last night, G arrived via a relatively uneventful surgery.
- G was technically 34 weeks gestation when she was born. She would have been 35 weeks if she had made it to midnight before her delivery.
- She weighed 5 lbs and 7.5 ounces and was 18 inches long. She’s TEENSY. But unlike some babies who come early (including C, who was born at 36 weeks in 2007), she doesn’t look undercooked or like a preemie. Instead she just looks like a miniature, perfectly formed china doll, with sweet little features and quite a bit of wavy, very blonde hair. She is GORGEOUS.
- She needed a bit of supplemental oxygen for a few hours after birth, so Jon and I had to wait to have her with us until 3-4 am in the morning after the c-section. She’s been breathing wonderfully since then. That’s great news because at 34-35 weeks, we weren’t sure how her lungs would be. We’re really lucky.
- That’s the good news. The bad news is that like many late-term premature babies, she is veeeeery sleepy and her sucking reflex is underdeveloped. So breastfeeding is not going well (understatement). She and I are really struggling to get nursing going. Even for me - someone who has successfully breastfed several other children, and who has helped lots of other women get started nursing their babies – this is really a challenging situation. She’s simply too tired to latch on and actually eat. And making matters more complicated, she also has had issues with unstable body temperature and blood sugar levels (both also common problems for late term preemies). So we have to get calories into her. It’s crucial. Without energy, she can’t wake up enough to nurse. It’s a vicious cycle. At one point today, we were warned that if we didn’t see some improvement in her feeding and blood sugar, she might have to be sent to the special care nursery for a day or three to get things stabilized. The thought of being separated from her in an acute care hospital setting was REALLY upsetting to me. So I broke down and explained to the nurse who had taken her blood sugar about recently losing Henry, and she was absolutely wonderful. She told me she would do whatever she could to help us get the blood sugar issue turned around – and she did. This nurse spent the next 45 minutes showing me how to use my finger plus a syringe (to avoid nipple confusion while she;s learning to breastfeed) to get a mix of my pumped milk plus high calorie formula into G’s little tummy. An hour later, her blood sugar reading was the best it had been all day. And since that time, this nurse’s technique has allowed me to keep her well-fed enough to stay out of the NICU. She still isn’t really getting enough, and I’m still not half as good at it as that nurse is, but we’re hanging in there. I also keep G skin to skin as much as possible to keep her temperature up, and so I can try to nurse her every time she looks even remotely awake enough. Unfortunately, I really wasn’t able to get her to latch on even one time today. But I think that if I just keep trying as she grows and becomes more awake, we will eventually get there. Between the pumping, the nursing attempts and the finger-plus-syringe feedings, keeping her fed is a very time consuming proposition at this point. Her weight is now at 5lbs 4ozs, so she hasn’t lost too much. That’s good. Tomorrow I hope to get a clearer idea from the pediatrician of how her feeding will have to look in order for her to go home (I am hoping for Thursday at the latest).
- Today J (staying with her dad and stepmom while I am hospitalized) and C (staying with Jon’s wonderful parents) both came to meet their new baby sister for the first time. It was magical for me to see each of my girls with G, and to realize that I am now the lucky mother of THREE beautiful daughters. J came to the hospital with two of her best friends, and I loved seeing the big girls oohing and aahing over G. J seemed so proud, and loved holding her new baby sister. C came into the room yelling “where is my baby sister!?” and was absolutely THRILLED to finally meet Georgia. She couldn’t keep her hands off of her, but I could tell that she is also a little stressed. We’ve had so much happening in our family lately, and she’s had to spend more time away from her mama than any two year old should. But her grandparents are so amazing and she is so close to them that I think she is mostly doing okay. Still, I can’t wait to get home, get the kids home, and try to settle in as the radically reconfigured family that we are.
- E still doesn’t know that G was born last night! I tried several times today to get him on the phone at camp but wasn’t successful because he was out hiking all day. I think we now have a plan where he’ll be calling me first thing in the morning so I can tell him. He is going to be SO EXCITED. (He will probably be equally excited to hear about the surprise baby guinea pigs)
- G’s other hospital visitors today included Aunt Betsy, cousins E, M and NC and Uncle Robert and Aunt Nicole, plus cousins A, H and N (their J is away at camp as well, so he wasn’t here). Dr. Neighbor also came, along with the Hickman grandparents, plus C and M (who are Henry, J and E’s father and stepmother). It was a busy day. All agreed that G is an absolutely beautiful baby who radiates a peaceful, warm vibe that puts a smile on everyone’s face. She’s a special baby; we all sense it.
- Today was an amazing day for me. Starting last night, while I was lying on the operating table just before the c-section, I sensed Henry’s actual presence with me for the very first time since his death. And he’s remained with me all day today, encouraging me to fall in love with his new baby sister, born two months to the day after he was first admitted to the hospital. When I hold G in my arms, I feel Henry with me in a really intense way. It’s extremely comforting and has brought me a level of peace with the loss of my son that I hadn’t experienced even one bit before G’s birth. It’s been an extremely emotionally intense 24 hours, and I love Henry even more than I did before.