Day 13 Status Report

For the first few days after Delphine came, I thought I would be able to write a day-by-day account of her first few days. Then a few days went by and I didn't write anything, and now it's thirteen days later, and I think it might be easier to just write a big update on how everything's going.

The Hospital

Del and I were in hospital for three days after the surgery. Our stay was punctuated by a series of little milestones: I got the catheter out and walked to the bathroom, then I got the IV out, I got to eat solid food, I took a walk in the hallways, I took a shower, my milk came in, and finally on Tuesday, May 13, my dad's eighty-second birthday, I got to go home.

We shared a room with another woman who had her baby on the same day as me. Her baby was around 6 lbs, and he had trouble latching on because he was tongue-tied. It wasn't until day 2 that they diagnosed him and snipped his frenulum so he could nurse -- after they did that, he latched on the very first time his mother put him to her breast. I know this, and I know everything about her labour, although we never once spoke; I just eavesdropped a lot.

Because of SARS, I was only allowed one visitor for the duration of my stay; of course that was Blake, so that meant that no other friends or family could visit. It just about killed my in-laws to not be able to see the baby for three days, but I liked being able to get to know her and figure out what I was doing, at least a little bit, without having to entertain visitors.

In general, staying in hospital was good; I had lots of help with breastfeeding -- all the nurses were able to help (some more than others) -- and I got lots of rest that I wouldn't have had at home, because I'm not very good at resting. The food wasn't terribly bad; each meal consisted of lots of different things -- a juice, tea and coffee, a bun, a salad, a piece of fruit, and the entree -- so you could pick and choose the good stuff, and still fill up. Plus opening all the little packages and fixing the tea was a good way to kill some time.

For some reason the hospital rooms didn't have any place for the fathers to sleep, and they were quite warm, so Blake would go home overnight and sleep, and come to the hospital during the day. The big drawback to that plan was that Delphine cried and fussed all night, and I had to take care of her myself, but I had help from the nurses, and somehow I figured it out. My very favourite thing was when Blake walked into the room each morning in his orange rain coat, bearing a pastry or a fancy coffee from the Michel's Baguette or the Second Cup downstairs.

The Baby

Delphine has gained 17 oz in the ten days since we came home from the hospital -- she's now at 9 lbs, 15 oz, or she was yesterday when we went to see the midwife. She's probably an even 10 lbs today.

She never got jaundice, but she does have milia: baby acne on her little nose. She's also really hairy; she has hair on her ears, on her forehead, on her lower back and arms and legs. She's a little ape. I only say this because otherwise I would be cooing in a most predictable way about how cute and sweet and precious she is. Because she really is! I'll put up some pictures, you'll see.

Seriously, I hope the extra hair goes away; it's cute now (if you're her mother) but it will be disturbing on a thirteen-year-old. This kind of extra hair is normal on a preemie, but it's weird on a baby born ten days after she's due.

We finally figured out the breastfeeding thing, after about five days of trauma and collective incompetence; now she latches on readily for the most part. (Sometimes she gets so excited that her head wobbles all around and she misses the mark on the first couple of tries.) She eats for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, every couple of hours during the day.

For the last couple of days, she's been fussy in the evenings from around seven until midnight. It's a frustrating time, because there doesn't seem to be a reason for it; she's not hungry, she doesn't need changing, she isn't too hot or too cold -- she's just fussy. We plough through it with a variety of tricks; we nurse, we rock, we walk around and listen to Norah Jones and bounce up and down.

The reward for all that work is five hours of sleep between midnight and five, and then another two from five until seven, and then, if we need it, another two from seven until nine. Pretty good for a tiny baby.

Right now it's 8:45 in the evening, and she's asleep next to me; I'm not sure why we get a reprieve tonight. The only thing that's different is that she doesn't have any pants on -- we're letting her butt air out because she's got a bit of a rash. There's certainly a prental precedent for the no-pants=happy correlation. Maybe we'll just forego pants altogether from now on in this household.

She sleeps in bed with us -- another pre-natal pledge broken. Until two days ago she slept in between us, but that cut severely into our snuggle time, so we bought a bed rail, the kind you're supposed to use for little kids' beds so they don't fall out, and put it on my side of the bed. Now she sleeps next to my head. I guess at some point we should move her to the cradle, but for now it seems so far away; I like having her right there when I wake up.

The Mother

I never had major abdominal surgery before, and I'm pretty tired of how long it's taking to get better. Every time I've been sick before, it has cleared up in a week or so, but this drags on and on; according to the midwife, it wil keep hurting for another couple of months. The incision itself is healing well, but my belly is sore. A little ibuprofen takes care of it pretty well, though.

I weighed myself at the midwife yesterday and I'm back down to 232 lbs, 2 lbs more than before I got pregnant. My pre-pregnancy clothes don't all fit, though, so I'm not quite the same shape I used to be, which I guess isn't a huge shock. It should all sort itself out after I get into a routine of walking with Del every day, and get off my rigorous frappuccino-a-day diet. Right now I'm still in vacation/invalid mode, though, and I'm indulging myself.

Blake is still at home with me -- he took a month off, two weeks of which have passed. It has been like a long, long weekend, except with a baby. We've been watching a lot of Angel (we got the Season 1 DVDs), going to Starbucks, going for walks, reading, and playing on the Internet. When we get ambitious, we go up to Yonge and Eglinton and buy stuff. Today we went to St Clair to apply for maternity and parental benefits, and we ended up going with Blake's parents to look at a couple of condos in the neighbourhood. I think I probably overdid it, but it was nice to get some exercise, and I bet I'll sleep really well tonight.

Blake's taking really good care of me -- he fetches things, and cooks and cleans, and lets me nap, and tells me I'm doing a good job with Del. I can't imagine how much this would have sucked without him.

I had a rough day yesterday; I was in a miserable mood. It was reminiscent of how I felt back when I was unemployed; lonely and useless and wishing I had somewhere to go and a job to do. Really stupid and really premature, since I do have a job to do -- taking care of Del -- and it has only been ten days since I got home. I think it was triggered in part by visiting the midwife; I realized that we'll only see her a couple more times, and I'm really going to miss her. I also had a bunch of things I wanted to get done, and I didn't get to them, and it got me thinking about what my days will hold once Blake goes back to work; it seemed pretty bleak.

Today was good, though; we got up and walked down to the HRDC office, filled out some forms, hung out with some family, walked some more. I'm going to have to pay close attention to what constitutes a good day, and what triggers the miserable mood, because the problem with that mood is that it saps my will to do anything, which makes the mood worse. Downward spiral. Flylady would say I should get dressed and clean the sink; she may be on to something.