This first week with our newborn has been challenging. Little Man is jaundiced, but improving. At full-term birth he was 7lbs 1oz but within 3 days he lost 9oz -- about 8% of his original weight. It was tough to see him losing weight on the colostrum he was drawing from my breasts, and when I was told it could take 5 days for my milk to come in, I felt real fear for him. I started drinking Mother's Milk tea and visualizing breasts full of milk during my meditative moments. When my milk came in I was ecstatic, and the blissed-out expression on Little Man's face as he fell asleep with a full belly of milk is one I will always remember.
Our next challenge to face was bowel movements. After 5 days he stopped passing the meconium (which I call toxic waste) and stopped passing anything at all. After 24 hours I called the advice line. They recommended I stimulate his bottom with petroleum jelly and breastfeed him longer and more often, so I did. After 48 hours I was at the pediatric clinic, where they tested his bilirubin (up but not at danger level), took his temperature with a generously lubed anal thermometer, and observed me breastfeeding him to make sure he was drawing enough milk. He was a very aggressive latcher, and I'm producing lots of milk, but the lactation nurse recommended that we supplement the breastfeeding with an additional 2oz of expressed milk every 2.5 to 3 hours. Five feedings later we got what we were looking for, thankfully, but with an undesired side-effect: nipple confusion. He won't latch on anymore, I think because it's so much easier to get milk from a bottle's nipple. So, once we've got his weight up and his bilirubin down, I'll start the battle to get him back on the breast. Thankfully, Kaiser Permanente is strongly committed to breastfeeding because it makes for healthier, happier babies, so I'm getting lots of support from the lactation consultants on staff.
Speaking of Kaiser Permanente, I've got to say that I'm really impressed with this foundation as a health care provider and insurer. My prenatal care was excellent. There was no stinginess when it came to making sure that the baby and I were as healthy as possible, and with all the ultrasounds, fetal non-stress tests, dozens of doctor's appointments, specialist visits, lab tests, etc, I only made one (yes one!) $10 co-pay. My only expenses were my medications and nutritional supplements, and gasoline for all the to-and-fro. The birth experience was great, too. The Redwood City birthing center is staffed with midwives in addition to nurses and doctors, which is why I chose it. It was a very caring environment and the staff all did a great job of keeping me in the loop and educating me so I could make informed choices about how to progress with the laboring and delivery processes. I ended up with two hospital stay co-pays of $100 each. Knowing that I didn't have to worry about minimum deductibles and residual fees made the pregnancy much less stressful than it otherwise could have been.
What else? I'm retaining more water now than I did during my pregnancy. My feet and ankles look pillowy. The past couple of days I've been wrapping them in compression bandages and elevating them, and it does help -- they look better than they used to, but some of the swelling comes back within an hour or so of removing them. I'm still feeling bloated and flabby, and very sore/tender from the waist down, but that is to be expected. Even so, it appears I lost a dress size or two during the pregnancy. I had to dig deep into my closet to find a pair of pants to wear that don't hang off of me, and most of my skirts are way too loose. It will be interesting to see what my weight is now, and what my dress size is once I've firmed up.
Daddy M is being great. He never fails to step-up when I ask him for something. He's taking time out each day to do a skin-on-skin snuggle with his son, and helps with the supplemental feedings. We had a couple of emotional flare-ups the day after my parents went home, mainly because I was in pain and tired and feeling overwhelmed, but since then, my emotional state has been balanced and my body is handling the pain/discomfort better as I'm adjusting to the new sleep schedule and feeling less tired.
Almost time to wake Little Man for his next feeding! I think I'm going to hop into the shower while I can.