The Next 8 Days In Hospital

I head to the bathtub just to clean myself.  My vagina feels like it’s been ripped to shreds.  My tummy feels wobbly, loose and weak.  I wonder how Joshua feels – he’s been squeezed out, where he had a bit of a cone head! As I soak, I take a breather, realising that I gave birth to my little human, my little boy.  I am amazed and in utter shock!  Me, a mummy?!! I have my own family, Joshua, Martin and I?  Very strange.  The bath is soothing me, but the water starts turning red.  Disappointed I couldn’t be there longer I get out.  It’s time to wear the maternity pads of which I forgot that they’d be a lot of bleeding afterwards for weeks.

Returning back to the maternity ward as a family, it’s late in the night.  We try and get some sleep and Joshua is actually a gem during the night.  We’ve awaken him for feeds and checks only.  Through the night, my eyes are drawn to him as I just can’t stop looking at him.   As he’s not latching well on my breast, I worry that I can’t produce enough milk which actually really hurts, especially as I am told to hand express as I opted for breastfeeding.  The hand expressing needed patience from me to get it going (and possibly the right technique) of which I found so difficult but got there in the end and was able to express up to 45ml.

Double Medela Symphony Pump

Double Medela Symphony Pump

Expressed milk and or formula top up

Expressed milk and or formula top up

The morning a midwife does her routine checks for all mothers and their babies.  As he is physically checked, his colour is also checked.  I hear “He’s a bit yellow”.  I think, well that’s because I am yellow – drrrrrrrrrrr, forgetting about the jaundice symptom.  I then remember it’s due to bilirubin not being expelled properly from Joshua’s body, which causes the yellow bruising. Good thing I didn’t blurt it out. My heart sinks twice as his foot is pricked to test for Jaundice, along with confirmation of Jaundice at the bilirubin levels of 117. On top of this he is also taking to the neonatal clinic for antibiotics as he was early to help prevent or at least decrease any infections that could occur.  He’s returned to me with a sock on his hand to cover the pain he’s experienced.  Feeling really low about all of this, Joshua is treated with phototherapy.  This is a UV light treatment in his cot to help break down the bilirubin.    This entails that Joshua only wears a nappy and a mask (Makes him look like a superhero), so that all his skin can be exposed to the light.  The downfalls with this is you have to be quick on feeding, changing nappy’s and soothing him, so that he can absorb as much light as possible.   This was a very stressful process for Martin and I as we wanted to be spending quality time with him on the first week, with skin to skin, playing, and holding him. In addition, I had to breast feed, use expressed milk, and top up with formula which was classified as one feeding.  We then had to feed every 3 hours no matter what, to ensure Joshua could flush out the bilirubin with his poo and urine.  (O my gosh the poo! He had expelled and aimed his black poo with a gesture of his fart all over me!).  I have to say there were times I felt like giving up on breastfeeding.  The feeding became a tiresome schedule through each day and was quite a battle.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy

A case of the baby blues showed its face, whilst Martin was away during the course of 1 night.  Amongst the crying of the other babies in the ward, the engorgement of my breasts (Boy, were they so painful), the 3 feedings in 1, changing nappies, consoling him when crying, seeing the UV light, pelvic/back pain, tired, not being able to always hold him and questioning everything I’m doing bought me to utter despair.  I felt useless, crap and a failure. I got through it many hours later, as a midwife was there to advise and assist where needed. I still have little sobbing moments to this day ( 5 weeks )  but what do you expect!?  I’m hormone crazy where my body is trying to get back to normal.

All through this, Joshua stayed quite positive. He was usually quite well behaved.  He did however despise that mask.  If he knew how to use his hands he would have ripped that mask in our faces!  When night time arose, he would fidget a lot but was quiet. His temperature was a tad bit low most days and nights so I did get the chance to have a bit of skin to skin.  Rather than fully enjoying this time, it was rushed so that the time in the UV light couldn’t be compromised.  Eventually he looked better where the yellow decreased.  But each day he would endure a blood test – which he took remarkably well with only flinching and no crying.

Being there was a challenge for 8 days.  As I was getting familiar with everything, I did see some new mummies and daddies really struggle.  One thinking a bit of posseting is baby chocking and about to die. Another not holding the baby at all.  The lady across me was experiencing the same – with her baby having jaundice.  The mother who can’t carry or move as easy.  The mama who didn’t have English as her first language so didn’t understand what the doctors were saying.  What helped was Martin being there, family and friends visiting and the midwives being very helpful constantly.  We learnt so much and felt more confident by the end of the week.  It turns out that that they could not find a fault of why the jaundice is being prolonged after mainly tests.  We are home but Joshua still continues to have jaundice (5 weeks and 6 days later), of which the updated results shows his bilirubin is higher than when he was born and that he has neutropenia which is abnormally low number of blood cells.   Awaiting the next steps from the paediatrician.

Joshua in first week

Joshua in first week

First GP Appointment and Midwife Booking

Do you recall the impatience I had when trying to wait for the booked GP appointment? I thought I could ask my book of questions?  Honestly, this was so that they could get the basics such as the last menstrual cycle date and figure the estimated due date, all of which could have been questioned over the phone.  Once this information was collected, she then was preparing the necessary paperwork to refer me to a midwife. She shrugged of my symptoms, as most are considered normal.  All of this is meant to be thoroughly detailed during the midwife booking that is to be arranged.  It felt like a waste of my time whilst I could be earning at work.  I walked away deflated as I thought I could have a long conversation and feel at ease but GP appointments try to make sessions only 10 minutes.  I was denied to ask about other non-pregnancy problems too of which I would have to book again.  However, the advantage was that I would receive an exemption certificate so that prescriptions and dental treatment would be free up until 1 year after giving birth.  Yay!

The midwife booking was at Epsom hospital within the maternity unit. The receptionist produced a colourful A3 plastic folder.  My eyes twinkled, as I love receiving items that I do not have to reluctantly get my purse out.  The outside cover had printed snippets of information from MAMA Academy. Inside was the very important green NHS pregnancy notes booklet.  This is a booklet that you must carry with you at all times in case of an emergency/accident.  I have found that non pregnant females are not familiar about this, so as a tip, just inform your loved ones, and your work place.  A glossy magazine was hidden in there also with many coupons to help throughout pregnancy.

Strangely whilst waiting, all the patients seemed further into their pregnancy by their bump size. By now, I was around 11 week’s gestation.  It slightly felt like I was in an exclusive club – with everyone having their green notes.  Yet most of them had their partners or at least a friend with them.  Waiting querulously to be seen too, and for Martin arrival, I filled out  the green notes.  When I was seen, the midwife, chirpy Heather, made me feel at ease.  It is a lot to take in for a first time pregnancy.  I would suggest to anyone to come prepared, know the family’s history and bring your questions.  There was a lot of information to absorb and unfortunately my head could not decipher everything in a short space of time.  Martin attended half way too, rather than not being punctual – grrr!  We went through the following:

  • Family illnesses from both families (This helps with selecting the correct maternity path)
  • What would happen throughout the course of pregnancy with regards to appointments
  • Blood tests/investigations (What they are for)
  • If I would like the baby to be tested for downs syndrome (Yes)
  • Pregnancy symptoms and solutions (I’ll put a post about the symptoms I have and am experiencing – hell!)
  • Any risks identified
  • Choices of childbird (Interested in the birth centre)
  • Do’s and don’t’s and what others think (Answered most of my questions)
  • Feeding baby (Thankfully it was just options and not how to do it as that’ll be later in parent craft courses)
  • Parentcraft course
  • Pelvic floor exercise (Do them or you will leak like crazy)

Afterwards I had to experience near to the same occurrence of blood tests like I did in Santorini – trouble finding my vein in both arms! Apparently I was dehydrated but rather than give me water, they just kept penetrating the needle everywhere.  I could not hack the movement of the needle being moved side to side, vigorously, once it had surpassed my skin. The next time I will end up biting the soul destroying nurse.  I needed to take a break and went into the waiting room with tears to Martin.  To the corner of my eye I saw a girlfriend reassure her boyfriend caressing his thigh that the injections would be fine.  He did drop in that he had a friend that was having trouble like me, where the injection had to be done in the feet! Crikey! After the nightmare of injections was complete a few weeks later I got the results and all was ok.  I am deemed low risk.  Phew!

I came across this blog and think it describes the 1st Midwife Booking Appointment well

A sample of Pregnancy Notes Booklet can be found here

How did your GP and Booking go?

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