Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Hospital with Clara

Our hospital stay with Clara deserves a post of it's own, since we were there for almost an entire week!

Saturday, June 18th
We arrived in the postpartum room in the evening around the nurse's shift change. My night nurse was Marla, and I feel so blessed I had her that first night. She was my favorite nurse during our hospital stay.

I was pleasantly surprised when Marla told me I could order food from the liquid diet menu. It was great to finally get something in my body besides water, and then we got ready to settle down for the night. Marla was super attentive all night, coming to check on me and Clara, and making sure she was eating every 2-3 hours. She was also really helpful with breastfeeding. Alex and I set our alarms for every three hours, and we always had to wake Clara up-she never woke up on her own to eat. Alex would wake Clara up, change her diaper to get her extra awake, and then hand her to me naked to breastfeed. Then Alex would burp her, swaddle her, and put her back to sleep. Alex had a hard time waking up during the night sometimes-he hadn't really slept since Thursday night!

Around 2 a.m. Marla came into the room to get me up and moving for the first time since surgery, and we headed for the bathroom. We went really slow, but I made it, and it actually felt really good to be moving. Marla told me I would do better the more I moved. A few hours later, Marla came back and took out my catheter. I wasn't excited about the catheter at first, but I was actually sad to see it go.

I was surprised by how successful our first night as parents went. I credit a lot of that to Marla. Once shift change came in the morning I was sad to see her go.

Sunday, June 19th
We spent a lot of time talking to family on Sunday. We did google hangouts with our families so they could see Clara, and we enjoyed spending time together as a family of three. We had many wishing Alex Happy Father's Day. My dad was especially tickled that Clara came early just to spend the day with her dad.

In the morning Clara had her hearing screening. She passed quickly and with flying colors.

Our nurse for the day was Rima, and we really liked her as well. She was helpful with breastfeeding, and was great in her delivery about weight loss/bilirubin facts. We were told it was common for babies to lose weight after birth, but they get concerned when the percentage is more than 10%. Clara was at a 7% loss, and they would continue to monitor her weight. Clara was a little yellow, and they were watching her bilirubin levels, especially since she had a giant bruise on her head from the failed delivery. Currently her levels were fine, but they wanted to monitor them.

I was cleared to eat solid foods that day, and was so happy to finally have real food!

Alex went home to eat, shower, and grab a few extra things, so he was feeling extra happy too. I sent Clara to the nursery while Alex was gone and took a nap. I was so glad I did this and decided I would do it every day we were in the hospital.

We had a little photo shoot with Clara to announce her birth, and it was fun for me to get her ready for it.

We also had our first visitors Sunday. My friends Jamie and Jeana came to the hospital, as well as one of the young women in our ward, Kali.

Monday, June 20th
In the early hours of Monday, we went with our night nurse Beronica to the nursery while they did another weight and bilirubin check on Clara. Beronica told us that Clara was now at 10% weight loss. She reacted in such a negative way about it, and made me feel kind of horrible and like I was a bad mother for trying to breastfeed my baby. She wanted me to switch to formula immediately, but I stuck up for myself and told her I wanted to continue with breastfeeding. She then suggested we try triple feedings-breastfeed, pump, and then supplement with some formula. I agreed that this was a good compromise. I really wanted to make breastfeeding work, but I understood my milk hadn't come in and wanted to make sure my baby was getting food.

Triple feedings were exhausting! Clara would nurse for 30-40 minutes, then I would pump for at least 20, we'd feed Clara formula and put her to sleep, and then pretty soon I'd have to start the entire process over again.

The feeding issues were only compounded by the fact that Clara was still a little jaundiced, and her bilirubin levels were rising. She was sitting in the "concerned, but not bad enough for photo therapy" area, and so they just continued to monitor her by pricking her heels for blood every 12 hours. I felt so bad for my baby girl. I also felt like we were stuck in a cycle and was getting a little frustrated. Clara was jaundiced and extra sleepy, making feeding difficult, and the jaundice was getting worse because she was losing weight.

The lactation consultant came to see me this day, and I felt so encouraged after her visit. She validated my feelings and made me feel encouraged and like breastfeeding would be possible. I was starting to feel like my milk would never come in, but she assured me it would, and reminded me that it can take longer for milk to come in after a c-section.

Monday afternoon I finally got to take my first shower postpartum. It was super exhausting since I was only two days post-op, but it felt so nice to be clean and wash my hair!

Monday evening we had visits from our friends the Hill's and Nielson's. It was a busy day, but a good day, and visits helped make the day end on a positive note rather than a stressful one.

Tuesday, June 21st
Tuesday morning was not a good one. They took Clara for another weight and bilirubin check, and when they brought her back they didn't have good news. Clara was at 12% weight loss, and I sort of lost it. Postpartum hormones are real! It was crazy how quickly I fell into a really depressed state. I felt horrible that we had tried so hard with triple feedings for an entire day and Clara was still losing weight. I felt like I was slowly starving my baby to death. The next time it was time for Clara to eat I refused to try breastfeeding/supplementing and told Alex we should just give her the formula. Alex encouraged me to feed her but I refused. I also refused to even look at Clara. I wouldn't talk to Alex. I just laid in my bed crying and feeling like I didn't deserve to be Clara's mother. I legitimately felt like she would be better off without me. In my brain I knew I was being unreasonable, but the feelings outweighed the rationale. I know I scared Alex. I was scaring myself a little bit. He was texting my parents all morning and finally got me to talk to them on the phone. Their words and support made all the difference. It was crazy how quickly the switch turned off and the depression left. I still felt really bad, but I at least wasn't scaring myself with my emotions anymore. 

Tuesday morning I finally got to see my OB Dr. Mills! She was super supportive about everything, especially breastfeeding and suggested we try doing SNS (Supplemental Nursing System). The basic concept is that it's a feeding tube you tape to your nipple, so the baby is being fed formula while they're breastfeeding, and they learn that they get their nutrition at the breast instead of just from a bottle. SNS sounded perfect and I was so grateful Dr. Mills had suggested it. It made me frustrated with the hospital staff though, because no one had ever said anything about it! SNS was even more work on top of the triple feedings, but I really felt like it was worth it.

Clara's bilirubin levels were still rising, but still not high enough to require photo therapy. At this point Alex and I were wondering why we couldn't just do the photo therapy, but we had to keep waiting and let them poke her heels every 12 hours.  

Thankfully we had a super awesome day nurse that day, Kaci. She was so helpful and supportive of the SNS, and asked the lactation consultant to come in to help several times. Having such a great nurse really made the day not so bad after all.

Wednesday, June 22nd
Wednesday was a good day. Clara's weight finally stabilized! They planned to discharge me in the afternoon, and since Clara's bilirubin levels weren't going anywhere, they finally decided to start photo therapy. The pediatrician told us it didn't make sense to keep Clara in the hospital and not do any treatment. (Go figure.)

Since Clara's levels weren't super high, she didn't have to go in the incubator, but just had the pads they put on her front and back and then wrapped up in the swaddle blanket. They wanted us to keep her on the lights as much as possible, so I had to feed her while she was attached to giant cords. We sort of gave up on the SNS because of this, but I honestly wasn't too worried about it for some reason.

Wednesday was also a good day because my mom came into town! She had originally planned to come June 29th and stay for two weeks, but when Clara came early and my mom learned I had to have a c-section, she booked an extra ticket to come early. It was so great to see my mom and see her with Clara. 

My milk also started to come in this day, which was super encouraging!

I was officially discharged Wednesday afternoon, but the only thing that really changed about our situation was the nurses didn't come in to check me in the middle of the night (hallelujah) and I was in charge of my own pain medications. Alex and I got to stay in the room because Clara hadn't been discharged and I was breastfeeding. I even got to keep ordering three meals a day, but by this point I was starting to get tired of hospital food. Alex was nice and brought everyone Freebirds for dinner. He also surprised us with Culver's concrete mixers!

Thursday, June 23rd
Thursday morning Clara's bilirubin levels were looking great and we were cleared to take her off of the lights. Her weight was doing great, and we were all hopeful we would get to go home this day. They kept us around for a while because they wanted to make sure her bilirubin levels were okay, but eventually they let us leave because we were seeing our pediatrician the next day and the hospital decided he could monitor her. 

Breastfeeding was going really well this day. I finally pulled out the boppy, and couldn't believe I hadn't been using it all along. It made breastfeeding so much easier. 

Clara had to have her hearing re-screened since she'd received the photo therapy, and thankfully she passed again. We had a final visit with the lactation consultant and the pediatrician and were finally discharged!

Overall we had a mostly positive experience in the hospital. We had a lot of great nurses, but also a few who could work on how they deliver information to stressed out, brand new, parents. I honestly loved being in the hospital, and was a little scared to leave, but I was also anxious to be home. 

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