Time loses all meaning in the hospital, I don’t usually know what is day or night now… just if it is one of the hours in which we will feed C. Newborns sleep a LOT and we are required to wake him up any time he sleeps 3 hours and give him food. We are exhausted as this means we generally get 30-45 minutes of sleep every 3 hours or so. If we don’t have to eat or shower, we may get an hour.
The hospital here does a graduated epidural spinal for c-section patients, so you get to keep the epidural for the first 24 hours for pain control. This enabled me to stay awake more and feed and seemed to be a great way to get through that initial patch after surgery. For me, a C-section wasn’t that bad. I took 1 Percocet and one Ibuprofen every 4 hours for the second day (after they removed the epidural) now I just take the Ibuprofen.
Over the course of the first day, we mostly slept and fed. The 8pm feeding had Vic and Lolah present so they had a chance to see and hold C and everyone was quite thrilled. The first day is a bit of a blur for me as I mostly slept and woke to feed C. Somewhere between the first and second day they decided his vitals were stable enough that he didn’t need constant monitoring. At that point they moved him into our room and we were rooming in. I wasn’t at ALL ready for this. I was frightened and disconcerted and the nurse who brought him in just dropped him off and left us. We were attempting to breast feed and had previously had help with positioning and latching on, plus neither of us had ever changed a diaper before. We finally got him fed and down and I was actually able to go to sleep with him sitting there beside me. The next time the nurse came in to check on him we got up and fed him again. They decided he wasn’t getting enough from me (since he had only been here about 28 hours all I had was a bit of colostrum). They started trying to supplement formula. He kind of took the first bottle… he was very reluctant on the second and we had to have the nurse help us get him to finish it. The third bottle took a lot of effort to get down, and we called the nurse to help. She thought he looked a little pale and his lips might be a bit dusky so she took him back to the NICU for monitoring. She brought him back for his next scheduled feeding and it wasn’t 3 minutes after I put him on my breast that I noticed his breathing was labored. I called her back and she came and took him back to the NICU. I now assume this was the PDA closing.
They decided that having to actually take food by mouth every three hours was too much for C. So they dropped an NG tube and we went to every other feeding by mouth. I pumped every 3 hours and was there as often as they’d let me. After a couple of days with the NG tube we tried going back to taking everything orally. We made it 24 hours with all feeds by mouth and they removed the NG Tube!! A day after the NG tube was removed we made it 4 days from the initial desat. Once we made it past that 4 days we were allowed to have C room in with us in preparation for him coming home! On Monday, when he was 7 days old C got to move out of the NICU and into the room!
I can’t begin to describe the level of exhaustion and exhilaration I feel right now. Getting up every 3 hours and staying up for 2 or more hours each time has been exhausting. I hope that when we get home we can get a routine that better enables sleep in those brief times that it becomes an option. My schedule for the first nine days of his life was as follows:
Each feeding: Wake up and walk to the NICU (5 minutes), change the baby (15 minutes), feed the baby (30 minutes), cuddle the baby and swaddle him for sleep (15 minutes). Walk back to the room (5 minutes) setup pump, pump milk, breakdown pump and clean parts (30-35 minutes). Sleep an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or eat or shower.
I am recovering well from the C-section; in fact I tend to forget I had one. I really only feel it at the height of exhaustion at around the 3am feeding. TheMan and I are planning to do a supplemental bottle for every other feeding (bottle feed when we have to give meds) which means I’d pump only at the 9ish feeding, go to sleep, wake up at midnight to bf and pump only at 3 while TheMan feeds the baby then go back to sleep until the 6am feeding giving almost 4 hours of sleep with only one interruption! I think the meds are the scariest part.