It’s been five long, long days since my last post. For the first three days of this week Aiden simply slept. All efforts to wake him up were fruitless. As a result we had no luck with breastfeeding. But there were lots of positives. Both of his drips were removed, as were all the sensors on his chest and tummy when he had his first bath on Wednesday. Which means all that’s left is the feeding tube and a sensor picking up his heart rate, but that one is moved from one foot to the other every three hours so is easily attached and removed. In addition, the volume of his feeds was steadily increased and by Thursday he was up to full feeds (50ml), even if they were all being given through the feeding tube.
Yesterday I arrived at 08:00 to find Aiden the most awake and alert that I’ve seen him. He breastfed well at 08:00 and lasted until 11:00 without needing a top up through the tube. This was a big breakthrough. He also fed at 20:00 so we managed two feeds in a day.
I managed to catch the paedatrician on his rounds and he also only had good news to deliver. He said that Aiden is doing wonderfully. As soon as he’s up to full feeds on the breast (eight a day) we can take him home. The doctor said this can happen in as little as two or three days but did warn me that little boys tend to take two steps forward and one step back, so to mentally prepare myself for a longer wait.
As for the rest of the family … Cameron has settled a bit more as the week goes on but had a major wobbly on Wednesday night as neither Col or I were there for bath and bedtime. He seems to be coming to terms with the reality of having a brother. We’ve been showing him photos and videos of Aiden and whenever I express milk at home he comes up and says, ‘Milkies, baby.’ He did the cutest thing yesterday – he found one of his teddies, said ‘Baby’ and then pretended to give it some milk. Next moment he popped the teddy down my T-shirt and said ‘Sleeping.’ Clearly all the photos of Col and I doing kangaroo care have made an impression!
As for the parents – we are running on fumes. I think this is largely because this stressful period has come on the back of a tiring month so we didn’t start out rested. We are finding balancing home and hospital utterly exhausting and to top it all, Col is incredibly busy at work (something we are very grateful for as it’s been a tough year for his practise). I don’t think either of us have ever been so tired in our lives.
We are handling our days on an hour-by-hour basis at the moment and eagerly await the day Aiden is discharged. The future holds plenty more interrupted sleep, but at least we’ll all be together and the logistical complications will be a thing of the past.
From the beginning I am finding this pregnancy to be utterly different to my first. This doesn’t surprise me as I’ve heard from many people that each pregnancy is different, but some of the ways in which things are different have been surprising.
To begin with, I knew a week before I took a test that I was pregnant. What’s more, I trusted this intuition (which I am sure it was grateful for, because it took a real pounding when we were trying to fall pregnant with Cameron). I had intense cramps one Wednesday afternoon and after doing a few calculations realized they must be implantation cramps. After than it was just a matter of waiting long enough to take the test. Incidentally, those two pink lines were incredibly faint, but as I had none of the self-doubt of before, I confidently whispered the happy news into Colin’s ear none-the-less.
As for my physical symptoms, I only experienced a few days of nausea this time (ever so grateful for that), but the exhaustion was absolutely shattering. Chasing after a toddler made this more challenging, but as I wasn’t working this time I could rest a lot more. By happy coincidence my parents were staying with us for much of the time too and they provided much-needed Cameron-caring help. Another factor in the exhaustion is that when I fell pregnant I was still breastfeeding Cameron twice a day. After a few weeks I cut this back to only once, which helped marginally as well.
Emotionally though, I am finding this quite a tough pregnancy. For some reason the hormone mix of the first trimester left me feeling rather blue. I recognised that my view on things wasn’t realistic and made a concerted effort not to think too much! I didn’t journal at all, and tried to avoid the temptation to get all introspective. Strangely, I have also been plagued by nightmares which often leave me with an uneasy feeling at the start of the day.
A few weeks into my second trimester I am already sporting a noticeable bump. I’m also aware of numerous odd aches and pains, and have already paid my first visit to the physio for backache. But I am starting to feel more positive (even if I do still feel the need to cry at ridiculous times – like after voting in Wednesday’s national elections). My energy levels are starting to improve too. I even made it through today without taking a nap!
The cumulative effect of interrupted sleep is starting to take it’s toll and my brain is really not functioning that well anymore. This means that firstly I can no longer seem to trust myself with admin tasks of any kind. Yesterday I persistently wrote ’28 August’ while labelling all my bottles of breast milk. And while always a believer in lists I can absolutely no longer seem to function without them.
Secondly, I’m committing serious faux pas at every turn. Thank heavens for name badges because I can’t remember the nurses’ names, even though I’ve been getting to know them for days now. Then last night my friend Tash came to visit. I spent half an hour in mental anguish trying to work out if this was the first time I’d seen her since Cameron was born. She, in fact, came to visit me on Monday, but I bored her with all the same stories I tell first time visitors before that sluggish part of my brain finally got through with the message that she’d heard it all before. Darling that she is, she listened with just as much enthusiasm as a first time visitor and didn’t let on that she was probably wondering if I was going mad.
Frustrating as this is, it did lead to lots of laughs last night. I stayed up for the 11pm ‘feed’ (read ‘expressing of milk’). Afterwards Col asked me what time I’d set my alarm for, with the next ‘feed’ at 2am. ’22:45,’ I replied. He looked at me quizzically and said, ‘But babe, you’ve just done the 11 o’clock one.’ I was completely flummoxed and asked in disbelief, ‘Have I?’ When Col realised that I had been genuinely confused we packed out laughing (incidentally a rather painful experience with my stiff tummy muscles). While he’s also sleep deprived at least he is still capable of logical thought so my new strategy is to run every action by him before I do anything!
This absent mindedness is bound to get progressively worse so if your birthday is anytime in the next two months I will most likely forget it and beg forgiveness in advance. And if I make plans with you please remind me on the day or run the serious risk of being stood up!