Well, we made it to a week today! This is going to be a long one, but this is for my own memory.
I woke up on Saturday morning as a new mom. I was in a bit of pain but honestly just wanted to get to the NICU to see my boy! Jon had already been up to see him but I had to wait until 12 hours from birth before I was allowed to get up. I actually had a meeting with my grad school group via Google Hangout, then had breakfast and the nurse finally let me get up to try and walk around. Thankfully, I still had an epidural, so I was getting a constant supply of narcotics plus I could have two bolus doses every hour as needed. I passed the walking test and got my foley taken out and was finally able to go see my baby!
Seeing Jackson again for the first time without so many drugs in my system was pretty emotional. I have no idea if I’d call it instant love, but it was definitely overwhelming, which is the theme of my week emotionally. I started crying right away and was thrilled to see him. I got to breastfeed him and then we had to formula feed him after since he was there for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). That day was spent literally going up to the NICU every 3 hours and feeding, pumping while Jon gave him a bottle, holding him, and then taking naps between that. That was it. I was utterly exhausted still. My parents came by for a few in the evening and brought me food, but they didn’t stay long since I was still so tired.
I sent Jon home that night since his back was killing him from being in the hospital for two nights on horrible cots. He really didn’t want to leave Jackson or me, but there was nothing for him to do with Jackson in the NICU anyway. We did a 9:30 feed with Jackson and got back to the room around 11, so Jon left and I climbed in bed for the night. It was a bit of a restless night since they had to wake me up to pull my epidural at 11:30 and they kept checking my vitals and drawing blood. I was also having to wake up every 3 hours to pump and send what tiny little bit of colostrum I was making to the NICU. I was still having a hard time moving and I was super surprised that all night, I was able to get in and out of bed to the bathroom alone.
Jon came back at 7:30 the next morning with breakfast. He helped me get up and shower before heading up to feed Jackson again. Our morning looked the same again. To the NICU to feed and then back to the room to nap. Still super drowsy that day… Around 2pm, Jackson was finally able to come back to our room since his blood sugars had been great even without the IV fluids he was getting. Jon’s parents showed up for about an hour from Florida, my parents came, Billy and Crista came, and Jon’s friend Andrew came. All at the exact same time. It was a bit overwhelming as we had to feed as soon as they got there and then we also had a meeting with the lactation consultant, so I felt bad that everybody came and we had to do all of that stuff.
I did homework that evening for awhile and then Jon and I crawled into bed for another night of waking up frequently to feed. Luckily, it was a low key night as far as nursing care goes.
The next morning was tough. Breastfeeding had been difficult the night before and I was wanting to do schoolwork so I didn’t get behind. I didn’t feel like Jon was being very supportive of my decision not to take a semester off school and my hormones were clearly going crazy postpartum. I literally bawled my eyes out for probably 30 minutes. Like, sobbing out loud like a crazy woman. And of course, right as I finished and my face was even more swollen (I got insanely swollen during and after delivery- my entire body was so full of fluid! I also got super anemic so I was white as a ghost) with big red eyes, both my OB (MY actual OB, finally!) and the pediatrician came to see me. I assume it must have been obvious that I was crying since my OB reassured me that the first week after delivery is filled with tears- “For mom too.” My OB released me from care and the pediatrician was going to release Jackson on Tuesday, but I was allowed to stay until Jackson was released.
I had asked Jon to run some errands for me but with how hard breastfeeding had been, I was nervous to be left alone with Jackson all day. Luckily, Gina was off work so she came for 4 hours in the afternoon while Jon went home and napped and had lunch and got some more stuff together for me. You totally lose all modesty with a baby. The lactation consultant came back and I was so desperate for help feeding that I just sat there for an hour with my boobs out while Gina and Kassie were there (Kass came on her lunch break).
The evening was stressful again with the feeding. It was just Jon and me and luckily, we had a fantastic nurse (we had some subpar nurses while we were there) who was so willing to help and chat with us. She did all of our discharge teaching for the next day and we were able to go to sleep, although people were literally in and out of our room for the entire night.
The next day we got to go home FINALLY! The morning was super busy getting everything together and packing things up, but I think we got home around noon.
I think between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, I cried more than I have in my life. It was an all day thing. About everything. About how much I already care about Jackson, about how much I miss my old life, about how hard breastfeeding is, about how we have no idea what we’re doing, about how much I HATE feeding every 3 hours! I just cried and cried and cried. And cried. And cried some more. I expected hard, but nothing could have prepared me for how I felt coming home. I missed being in the hospital with so much support. I missed being pregnant so much. I just wanted to feel Jackson in my belly again. I looked at a picture of us from Thursday in the waiting room at the hospital before I got checked in and lost it. The amount life had changed in those few short days was just beyond overwhelming and I can’t even begin to put into words how I feel about it.
I told Jon yesterday that I almost feel like I had PTSD from the birth. Like, I have life before the big event, and I have life after. I would be absolutely devastated if anything were to happen to Jackson, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered if having a baby was a mistake and if I will ever enjoy being a mom. I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t enjoy having Jackson here. I love seeing his face. I love hearing his little sounds and he always takes two breaths in really fast and then sighs and it’s seriously the cutest thing ever. It breaks my heart hearing him cry, even though I know babies do that. I love watching Jon take care of him. But I’m still so hesitant to accept this new role as “Mom” and it’s just… it’s hard. I don’t know how to put it. It’s scary and it’s daunting and honestly, the thought of having to feed him every 3 hours makes me want to stab myself in the eye. It’s unbelievably cumbersome to have a baby, and I am a woman who likes to be unencumbered. I have missed “our time” so much between Jon and myself. I miss sitting on the couch with him without having anybody to tend to and just being able to relax. I miss my morning coffee and sleeping in and going to the gym. I miss ME. I feel like I went from being myself to JUST being Mom. And there are so many times where I just really don’t think I want to be “Mom” at all. I just want to go back to my old life. And when I look at pictures of myself when I was pregnant or of Jon and me before we were pregnant at all, I just want that back. I want it back more than I want to be a mother. But then, I love Jackson too…
Overall, things have improved some. I cry far less (I think yesterday maybe 1 or 2 times in the evening before bed and today I teared up listening to a song that always made me cry while I was pregnant). I asked Jon how we know if this is normal or if I have postpartum depression (PPD). That has always been huge fear of mine because of my history of depression, but so far, I feel like things are kind of easing off and I’m adjusting. I do want to start seeing a counselor for PPD just in case, but I don’t think I’m set on if meds would help. I’m sure my OB will ask me at my 3 week appointment since she came in after I was crying my eyes out, so I’m curious what she’ll have to say.
The one thing I have been really pleasantly surprised with is Jon. Aside from when I cried my eyes out in the hospital (and a tech came in after that who was AWESOME and talked to Jon and me for awhile and then Jon ended up apologizing), he has been just incredibly amazing. I was crying to him the other night and finally he said, “Do you want me to try and help you find answers or do you want me to just tell you that it’ll be okay?” and I said I just need somebody to tell me that it’ll be okay. And he has been 100% supportive. He has told me how much more he loves me after seeing what I went through to give him a child and how strong I’ve been. He’s understanding when I cry and he’s patient and kind and just everything I honestly did not expect. And not that I’m surprised by this, but he is an absolutely amazing father. He stays calm with Jackson and seems to have all the answers. He can always figure out how to fix what’s wrong. He has really just amazed me overall throughout this process.
And Jackson has really been a good baby. Aside from some breastfeeding problems which seem to be improving daily, he almost never cries unless we’re changing him or he’s hungry. He sleeps all day long and we wake him every three hours to get changed and eat and then he usually goes back to sleep. At night, he has been up every 2 hours to eat, so he eats for 1 hour, sleeps for 1 hour, and is awake again. Last night was a bit better, so maybe we’re getting over that hump… I think feeding him a bottle of breastmilk helps instead of getting him frustrated over latching in the middle of the night (I’m breastfeeding and feeding pumped bottles, obviously). He tends to just want to latch and unlatch repeatedly when he feeds and he doesn’t latch for long before becoming drowsy, so I was worried he wasn’t getting enough to eat. But he had his 1 week appointment and had gone from 6lbs 14 oz to 6lbs 15.5oz, and they don’t expect babies to be above birthweight until 2 weeks. And my pediatrician said as long as he eats 1.5-2oz of breastmilk at a time, he is all set and he’s eating 3-3.5 with a bottle. He’s also 75th percentile in height and 20th in weight, so I’m REALLY hopeful that he got Jon’s height too! I’d say the 75th percentile is a good indicator because the kids in my family have never been that high on the growth charts!
Alright, I have 45 minutes before we feed again. I also have a TON of schoolwork to get done but it’s hard to concentrate. I’m going to go nap for a few minutes and then it’s back to the boob for baby.