14 May 2014

Day 4 Survival Update

I've gotta be quick about this, but I want a post to happen, so please forgive the lack of a proof-read. Eleanor is four days old today. My husband put it really well when he said, "we're in a microcosm of parenting." Everything is really short, but really intense. Like the first day both parents try to squeeze a shower. Or the day my milk comes in. It's a really short span of time, but it's a really intense one. It feels like by the time evening comes around, things have changed again - it's hard to capture the fleeting moments with words before they're gone, replaced by new moments that need new words. But I'll try.

How am I doing?
Physically - I'm doing really well. I get the impression I'm doing better than most woman on day 4 after a vaginal birth because people are usually shocked at how active I am, but since this is my first, I'm not sure. Natural birth recovery is definitely way easier than c-section recovery, though. I can't understand why anyone would opt for a c-section. Anyway, some pain, but it's very minimal and very easily controlled with super Motrin.

Emotionally - this one is harder to capture. My crashing hormones mean that sometimes I'm totally on cloud nine, all "Oh my gosh, two kids is amazing, I can totally do this!" Then two minutes later, my breathing is getting faster, I'm starting to sweat, and I'm panicking as to how I'm ever going to feed Eleanor when Abigail is around after Matt goes back to work. I try to keep things in check by not allowing myself to think about how things will be once I'm on my own. I'm not on my own right now and the microcosm nature of parenting a newborn means that things will change anyway. We're keeping a very light schedule around here, respecting time to rest and recover. I'm for once glad to have a tiny apartment, as it's no burden to do laundry or clean up the living room (mess and clutter stress me out). Plus I am already taking steps to stave off any postpartum depression that may be thinking about springing up - making time to shower daily, do my makeup - I even took a short walk around the complex by myself last night! Our life feels very cozy, happy, and peaceful right now.

In Healing - Background: right after Eleanor was born, the nurse decided to check her blood sugar levels and found the results to be a mere 3 points too low. While I thought she was overreacting (and a lactation consultant later confirmed), Eleanor had to have her blood sugar tested five times total throughout our hospital stay. A pediatrician's appointment after discharge resulted in another poke to test for jaundice.

So picture Eleanor and I standing in a clinic (Matt and Abigail in the waiting room), me on one side of the bed, the tech on the other, when the tech starts looking at Eleanor's heels for a good place to poke. "Hmmm...both sides have been poked recently? Well...this side looks less bruised, so we'll try it." So there we were, standing in a sterile clinic filling vials of blood with pokes from tiny heels again. And I held a newborn's hands and sang gentle lullabies to hush the sobs again. And they put the stupid little round bandaid on the heel, which proceeded to fall off and smear blood all over tiny pink socks again. And I waited for results to be faxed directly over to the doctor so we could discuss courses of action again. Lots of flashbacks. I did a lot of crying in the car on the way home. In the end, the blood sugar was fine, the jaundice was fine, everything was fine and there are no further courses of necessary action. But I'm still working through and processing everything.

Breastfeeding - Oh my goodness, so far we have mad success. Eleanor latches on easily and loves eating, and my body is having no trouble producing milk. They did give her a few milliliters of formula in the hospital to spike her blood sugar, but it didn't interfere with my milk production. (She fought the bottle and ended up spiting it up later - something she hasn't done once yet with my milk - which made me a little smug inside). Yesterday when we were in the throws of jaundice concerns, the pediatrician and a lactation consultant advised that I pump so that we could supplement Eleanor with more breast milk if her levels were too high. So after I fed Eleanor from one side, confirming the presence of milk from the dribbles leaking out of her lips after she finished, I hooked up the pump. Not one drip was coaxed out of either side. After two kids and the exact same results, I am fairly confident in saying that my body does not respond to a pump. I can have mad success breastfeeding, but apparently only with a real, live baby who latches on.

Baby fist-pump for the win.

How's Eleanor doing?
Well, I told you all about her concerns in the section about me, but other than those, she's great. I think she looks almost exactly like Abigail when Abigail was born. The nose, the wrinkles, the lips, the shape of the bones around the eyes. She's shaping up to be another little mini-me. She vastly prefers to be held - by me - constantly. I can usually pass her to Matt for a few minutes, but I a few minutes is all I'm granted. She wakes up every two hours at night and every three hours during the day, I'm pretty sure just to spite us. She is finally opening her eyes, recognizes my voice, and searches for my face. I have discovered that I personally sleep best when Eleanor is in the same room as me, but in the Pack n' Play or this little basket we have that goes in the bed. Eleanor has discovered that she personally sleeps best when she is sleeping rightnexttome while sucking at. all. times. On the rare occasion that I can get her in the little basket without tears, she'll wiggle out and I'll discover her next to me rooting the next time I open my eyes.

What does Abigail think?
We do keep their interactions very brief right now, so they haven't had a ton of exposure to one another. I think Abigail will do very well, but we just need to teach her how to treat a baby. Hence, we are trying to keep interactions positive and end on a good note. So far, though, Abigail is very curious about everything Eleanor does and follows me around little a little puppy when Matt isn't distracting her. She happily announces, "Baby!" when she sees her and has tried to share her water bottle with Eleanor on multiple occasions. She constantly wants to hold and kiss her and even gave the most gentle of high-fives to her sister this morning. Last night she started imitating a few new things with her baby doll, I came out of the bedroom after feeding Eleanor to discover a baby doll in the exact center of the tummy time mat. Lastly, I think Abigail likes having a companion in the backseat with her.

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