Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day One

I figured that I would continue the thread from my last post. This is Day One and on with a newborn:

I slept in the next day. I probably shouldn't have but I figured I would need it. When I got to the hospital Andrea was relaxing in the room with the baby. Feeding hadn't been the easiest thing and would continue to be difficult throughout our time in the hospital. We felt as though we did not get as much support as we needed as new parents. The hospital was very "breast feed or else", and Andrea and I knew that we were going to our best to try but were open to the other options if necessary. All it would have taken was for someone to advise us that the difficulties we were experiencing were normal. It was very hard for me to watch Andrea struggle through the feedings but she persevered. Eventually, he would take to the feedings but not consistently until after we left the hospital.

I'm not sure how many people are aware of this but I was the first person to change a poopy diaper. Granted it was mercomium, which is really like tar, but it was still the first crap the boy took. Anyone who knows my penchant for being sick should realize that this was a massive achievement for me. I was proud of myself. I know that Andrea was proud of me as well.

I think that the most vivid memory I have of the whole hospital experience was when Andrea was too sleepy to stay up with Declan and the baby just would not go to sleep. I walked around the ward with Declan in the crib for at least an hour. He hadn't really fed much that day so I went into the nursery and grabbed some formula (a big no no apparently) some tubing and a bottle. I brought the baby into the family room and filled the bottle, cut a small hole in the nipple which I ran the tube through. I then ran the tube along my thumb and into Declan's mouth. He fed like that for around 30 minutes and then fell asleep finally. I brought him back to the room and fell asleep on the chair/bed that I was using. This was the first time that I felt as though I was a father. It was incredible.

I have to admit, there are things that you kind of expect from the whole child-birth experience. I was looking forward to cutting the cord and handing the baby to Andrea. I thought that the first time he looked into her eyes and then started feeding would be magical. Looking back on it I feel as though we were ripped off. I don't know who cut the cord and Andrea was so exhausted and so uncomfortable from the ordeal that those first moments were kind of lost to us. I will always remember the first time I held Declan but there will always be a twinge of guilt because I wanted to hand him back to the nurses because Andrea was so upset. After nine months of anticipation it was a bit anticlimatic.

Our little yellow baby, full of jaundice, was losing weight and Andrea was becoming increasingly convinced that she was doing something wrong and that he was not getting the nutrition that he needed. The first nurse that offered advice actually chastised us for giving the baby any formula which was unfair as no one offered the information that the whole breast milk thing was a process and the baby was indeed getting what he needed. This put us off of asking for too much help at first because we felt that the militant breast feeding culture at the hospital would look down on us if we did not give it the best try. Beside that, Andrea wanted to feed from the breast and I fully supported her decision.

It was not until one of our last days in the hospital that we were introduced to a lactation nurse who explained the process to us and then gave Andrea some pointers on how to feed the baby properly. There were so many rules that we were originally told to follow that it made it impossible to distinguish which ones were important and which weren't. For example, the first nurse told Andrea that the baby had to feed for 20 minutes one side and then 20 minutes on the second side. This was not possible as the baby was not interested in feeding for that long. We quickly decided that he could be the judge of when he was hungry and when he was not. Looking at the size of him now... I think we did okay.

After various heel pokes to see how badly jaundiced he was Andrea and I basically insisted that we wanted to go home after our 4 days in the hospital. I don't want to be too negative about the experience but it is really difficult to be comfortable and start being a family when you are constantly being intruded upon and poked and prodded. Andrea was healing up pretty well and she had started being able to walk again without much discomfort so it was decided after securing permission from our family Doctor that they would be released with a promise to go see the Doctor within a few days for a check up on Declan.

A quick aside... If you ever want to see a father lose it, try backing into his car with wife and their newborn as they try to leave the hospital. As we were leaving the underground parking at Mac someone almost did this. Had he successfully hit our car I am not sure what I would have done to him but I assure anyone reading this that it would not have been pleasant.

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