Some people told me that the first week is the hardest. Other people have said that the second week is the worst because you've lost the "we just had a baby" high. Now that E is just over two weeks I would have to say that, for us, the first week was the most difficult (though it really hasn't gotten much easier yet). There were two things that made our first week with E even more difficult than I expected:
1) The fucking bili blanket.
The day after E was born, a nurse came by the check him for jaundice. The initial test results were a little high (his bilirubin level was 9.9, I think they were looking for below 9). They took him to lab to draw his blood and that test showed that the bilirubin was at 10.2. From that evening until we left the hospital, E had to be in a box under the bili lights. No big deal. Lots of babies have mild jaundice. I spent five days in the hospital when I was born (probably for the same reason that E had it - blood incompatibility between mom and baby).
By the time we were ready to be discharged, E's bilirubin level had continued to increase so we were sent home with a bili blanket. If you've never seen one, it like a flexible panel about 18 inches long by 4 inches wide with bright blue bili lights. It has a big ass cord on the bottom so you have to stick it up the back of the baby's shirt and lay them down on it. We were told that E should be on the blanket round the clock unless he was being changed. Some horses said leave him on it to feed, others said it was okay to take him off it for feedings.
I know there are much worse things that a new baby and new parents have to deal with, but the bili blanket sucked too. It was hard to hold him. It sucked to see him uncomfortable. It was tough to feed him on the blanket and when he was off the blanket, I felt like we had to rush through feedings to get him back on the lights quickly.
We also had to get up and out of the house every morning for a 7:45 AM appointment to check his bilirubin levels. It is fucking hard to get a newborn ready and out of the house at anytime let alone that early in the morning after getting little sleep. I also hated bringing him into a germy doctor's office every day. We had to do that from day 4 through 8.
It was also really frustrating because it was the weekend which meant we saw a different on-call doctor at each appointment. I felt like we were getting different opinions from each one. Some weren't concerned at all, others wanted us to be super strict with the blanket. It was just all so confusing.
I'm actually convinced that the hospital and the medical supply company are running some kind of scam. I never heard of a bili blanket before we left the hospital. However, practically every single nurse or doctor that we talked to (I can think of at least five) said that their child needed a bili blanket. Really? Everyone has jaundice these days? I know it's common, but I just had a weird feeling about the whole thing.
Anyway - on Monday, day 7, they decided that E's bilirubin was at a safe level so we could stop using the blanket. We still had to go back for one more check-up on Tuesday, but even though his levels rose slightly they decided that E would be fine. We were so pumped to return that fucking blanket. (Oh and the day the medical supply people came to pick it up, another truck from the same company was delivering a bili blanket to another family in our neighborhood. Really? Scammers.)
l have always wanted to breastfeed. I am not against formula feeding at. I know plenty of healthy, happy formula fed babies. I just wanted to have that experience with my baby. However, it's been a bit of a disaster so far.
At first, it seemed like things were going okay. Two days after E was born, I noticed that my boobs were starting to look enormous. I figured that my milk was coming in or something. My nipples also started hurting between feedings as well. I figured that was normal too. A few nurses had checked on me and said that E and I looked great but when we finally saw the lactation consultant a few hours before we were discharged, she knew right away that something was wrong. She told me that E wasn't latching properly and I was on my way to an engorgement problem. She tried to help us get a good latch but since we were getting ready to leave, she highly recommended that I pump to try to prevent severe engorgement.
It didn't help. I spent the next two days in a lot of pain thanks to my enormous, solid, lumpy boobs. They were unreal. The were so full and hard that it was impossible for E to latch at all so they just kept filling. The full feeling drove me insane. I tried expressing some milk manually, but it was so painful and it took so long to massage all of the lumps out. I was terrified of getting an infection or having my boobs explode.
Finally (and I don't know why I waited so long), I pumped the shit out of them and got some relief. It was amazing. We started trying nursing again, but E still couldn't get a good latch. I spent the better half of the first week crying. Because of the pain, because of the frustration, because I had no idea if E was getting enough to eat. It was tough. Breastfeeding is not easy. I can and will devote an entire post to this topic another time.
Despite all of that, we survived. It wasn't as blissful as I would have liked, but we made it through the week. E is healthy and (I think) happy. I am hopeful that things won't always be this hard even though I honestly can't see how we're going to get to that point yet.