Because Cameron was born only slightly premature, had no complications and was really just in ICU for monitoring, for us his time there can be compared to test driving a really cool car*. We got short periods of utter delight with none of the maintenance and upkeep.Yes we learnt how to change him, feed him and bath him, but there was always an experienced professional hovering over our shoulders and dispensing advice. And so it is perhaps not that surprising that we were a tad over confident when we brought him home.
By the end of Cameron’s first day at home, the poor boy was utterly overwhelmed. In less than 12 hours he’d had his first immunisations, first trip in a car, was exposed to a whole new environment and met seven new people who all had some cuddle time. On top of that his dad was a bit stressed about bringing him home and his mom was grumpy because she was feeling a bit sore. So it really is no surprise that he didn’t settle down after his 20:00 feed.
When he was in the ICU we discovered that he’s a really contented baby. If something is bothering him he cries, but as soon as the cause is sorted out he stops. This remains the same – it’s just that we are horribly slow on the uptake and can take hours figuring out what that cause is! And so began Cameron’s first long, long night at home.
The 20:00 feed was the last really good meal he had for the next 12 hours. Initially he was overstimulated, but we didn’t really know how to deal with that so alternated between picking him up and putting him in his cot. Not helpful. When he woke for the 23:00 feed we spilt surgical spirits on his baby grow, but knowing how quickly it dries, didn’t change his clothes. He kept fussing after he’d fed, and in desperation I spent two hours lying with him on my chest. It took me far longer than it should have to realise that if I was being bothered by the smell of surgical spirits, I could be damn sure it was driving him mad as initially a baby’s most sensitive sense is the sense of smell. And so at 03:30 we changed his clothes as well as his nappy. Still we had an unhappy boy on our hands. Some investigation (which lasted about 30 minutes) led us to conclude that he was cold. He’s sleeping next to our bed in his pram at the moment, and we discovered that there was a big gap right over his head. We added a nice warm blanket to the bottom of his bed, covered the gap and put a hat on him. Low and behold – he slept!
The next day we tried to be as peaceful as possible. We spent some good time on kangaroo care, just trying to reassure and calm him. He fed a bit fitfully, but slept much better. We were confident of a much better night’s sleep on night two.
And it started out just that way. He fed really well at 21:00, and was in a deep and contented sleep until 00:25. When he woke I changed and fed him. And then it all fell apart again. He wouldn’t settle. This time I knew he wasn’t cold, wasn’t hungry and didn’t have surgical spirits on his clothes! After an hour of trying to comfort him I woke up Col who read up on his symptoms and discovered that he was suffering from cramps due to built-up wind. Unsurprising since we hadn’t been winding him properly. We then spent three torturous hours trying to comfort our poor boy who was in such discomfort. Just when I was contemplating exactly how large the peace offering to our neighbour Linda should be, he finally found some relief and it was smooth sailing from there until 09:00.
What we should have done today was repeat yesterday’s strategy of calm and peaceful. But I’m afraid to report that lunacy took hold. In our commitment to mastering the art of burping a baby we’ve hardly given the boy a moment’s respite all day. One cry and Col was at the cot. The poor man was in a bit of a state after our early morning trauma and just wanted to ease his boy’s pain. But instead Cameron picked up on Dad’s stress and wasn’t the happiest chappie by 15:00 this afternoon. Col and I then had a frank discussion, tried to calm down to a panic and somehow managed to revert back to calm and peaceful. As a result, Cameron is sleeping peacefully in his bed as I type this.
Two days in (is it really only two days?) we are looking decidedly bleary eyed but have hopefully found some sort of fragile equilibrium. All I can say is that thank goodness God made babies so resilient – they need to be to cope with first time parents!
*I don’t mean to be flippant about having a baby in ICU. I know that generally it is a much more stressful and heart wrenching time than what we had to endure, so please take this for what it is – my experience only.