Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hospital...Then Home

We've been home for four days now.  It seems like a much shorter time.  The days pass by so quickly and, of course, mostly centre around feeding and sleeping (for Rory anyway).

It is such a relief to be home.  I was quite content in hospital at first.  Who wouldn't be when you get all your meals served and have help on hand 24/7?  But towards the end of our stay, things soured a little.  We began to get hints from a couple of midwives that we had outstayed our welcome.  This was despite the obstetrician and the paediatrician being happy for us to stay longer.  The hospital information sheets we'd received months earlier also said that despite the usual stay for women who've had c-sections being six days, you would not be forced to leave if you weren't confident you could cope in the outside world.  In the end we felt a bit uncomfortable and I was desperate to get home.  It was a bit of a dampener on what was otherwise a great hospital experience.  I wrote on the feedback form that communication between staff and patients could be improved.  Normally I can't stand people who whinge consistently on Facebook about some horrid experience they had at a cafe or shop, but never mention any GOOD experiences of customer service.  In this case, I felt like something had to be said.

Here's how I've been coping (or not) with various aspects of our new life:

I have felt this tension.

I never thought my post-baby body would bother me, but it much so that I burst into tears the first time I saw myself in the mirror after the birth.  Parts of me were like bits of meat in a butcher's shop, I still looked about 25 weeks pregnant, and the lower half of my body was just horribly swollen.  Despite trying to convince myself that I should be proud of my body for what it has done, I grieved what I had lost.  It was a friend who came to visit us who helped give me some perspective.  She said that it had taken nine months to grow my belly so it was normal that it would take months to decrease again.  She is a mum and said it does shrink back, maybe not quite to how it was before, but it will get better.  And it has.  There has been significant improvement in the swelling department since I have been home (probably because I have been more active, but, don't worry, I'm not doing silly things like spring cleaning).  The c-section scar looks really good; I'm very impressed with the obstetrician's sewing skills.  I'm glad I don't have a scar like that on my face though.

I'm really not enjoying feeding.  There...I've said it.  Having said that, the last couple of days have been better as I've enjoyed slightly more sleep.  Everything seems better after I've had a nap.  I've heard plenty of people say they enjoy bonding with their baby through breastfeeding, but I'd rather just give Rory a bottle and still have lots of cuddles anyway.  Still, I'm persevering.  The child health nurse is supposed to visit us soon and she can't come soon enough.  My milk took five days to come in and Rory was pretty frustrated.  I find breastfeeding painful and have to use a shield.  It's hard to be discreet when you're learning (it's uncomfortable when men are visiting and I need to feed).  Rory either falls asleep while feeding and I have to keep tickling him, or he gets very aggressive and fidgety and is like a turtle snapping at me.  Feeding takes SO LONG and there's very little time for me to have a sleep before it's time for the next feed.  I've learnt that every hour of uninterrupted sleep is like a gold nugget.

I got the 'third day blues' and since then it has been hard to fight back the tears.  Sometimes it's due to the lack of sleep, other times I don't even know why I'm crying.  It may be grief over the loss of our previous way of life, or the fact that these few weeks are so draining...I don't know.  Sometimes I just need to cry which is hard when there are other people around who can't understand why I'm not always happy.

I've never known that it is possible to love someone so much and yet still get so frustrated at him and want to throw him sometimes.

Often it feels like one step forward, two steps back.  For every victory, there are numerous defeats.  But I've heard it said that no-one ever masters parenting; it is a continual learning process.  Each little achievement is celebrated.  Yesterday we had our first trip into town as a family of three.  Rory seemed alright in his pram so Duncan and I got to have a coffee together.  We went to the bank, the post office, my old workplace to say hello, then to the supermarket.  Just as we were going through the checkout, Rory started crying.  At least he settled down again when we were back in the car.  Still, I'd judge the trip a success (I'm dreading going without Duncan though).

One thing every parent has told me is that this time of demanding feeding will end.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  They didn't say, "Just enjoy it," because they remember how hard it is and that not every moment is full of warm fuzziness.  I think my new motto is, This too will pass.  Knowing that helps me deal with the present and focus on the positives with Rory at this time.  Despite the sleep deprivation, he will never be this small again.  I could blink and he'll be a 25-year-old man who won't fit in his mother's arms and won't want cuddles.  I don't want to wake up and realise I have a two-year-old.  I want him to stay as a baby.  He has forced me to slow down and do less.  I don't want to waste the moments of gazing at him sleeping peacefully and marvel at the gift God has given us.

I have to say that I would be lost without Duncan.  He is the BEST husband and daddy.

Despite my prayerlessness and lack of Bible reading over the past couple of weeks, I'm aware that I'm surviving in God's strength and not my own.  Yesterday's verse is a great comfort to me.  I know it's one of those verses that appears on a lot of cheesy Christian tea towels and Bible covers, and that many Christians interpret it as meaning we need to use God as a crutch during hard times, while relying on ourselves when things are going well.  But we need to rely on God's power ALL the time.  We are not just weak in adversity; we are always weak.  It is only in God's strength that I can keep plodding on, whether I think I'm doing well or not.

I'd better go...the bubba will be waking for another feed very soon.

Drunk bubba.  This is my favourite photo of him so far.

It's rather unnerving feeding your baby while he's giving you the bird haha. 


Deb said...

Truly, the first six weeks are just a slog and a blur. But then for most people (if there are no complications) the fog starts to lift a little and things get easier. Don't ask much of yourself in those first six weeks (especially as you are recovering from major surgery as well). Just go with it and cry when you need to. I read of a great tribe in PNG where the tradition is that the mother does nothing (no cleaning, cooking etc) until the baby's first smile. Everyone else in the tribe takes care of her and her family until then. I did ask my husband if we could move there for the birth of our last baby but sadly he said no. ;)

Sarah said...

I like that culture :). I went to church in Perth with a number of Chinese women who would not leave the house or even have a shower during the first month of their baby's life. There is great wisdom in that way of life rather than how our isolated, individualistic culture does things. It's true that it takes a village to raise a child. I thank God that my mum is coming to stay on Monday when Duncan goes back to work.

Wendy said...

I have to say I enjoy other's babies more than I enjoyed my own at that stage. It is so intense and incredibly exhausting that you have little time or energy to merely enjoy (no surprise that you're teary at times, you are operating at the limits of your physical endurance).

In Japan it is traditional for mum not to go out at all in the first month. Often they go to their mother's house (or she comes to them) for the month. We shocked a lot of people when I was up and about in the community (and at church) in under a month.

Our middle son was born in Japan and had no citizenship status until we'd done the paperwork, including getting a photo for his passport. It was really hard to get anyone official to photograph a 2 week old baby! Then we went off to our mission's annual conference. I think even some missionaries were surprised at that. It was a stretch (I remember one night I had 5 feeds between dinner and breakfast and nearly passing out at breakfast, the single guy at our table couldn't believe what I'd told him about the night). But at least it did give me 3 meals and a babysitter for our oldest much of the time. I'd also spent nearly a month in a Japanese hospital (long story) and I was desperate for some English-speaking fellowship.

Anyway, that is my story and not yours. Having a baby and being a parent is one of the most difficult and emotional things you'll ever do. And indeed, I don't know how people do it without God's strength. God bless as you persevere on the journey!

Libby said...

Breastfeeding first time round for me hurt for 4mths - I even had an ultrasound whilst feeding that proved both I and the baby were doing everything right - it just hurt. I did have to express for a week while things healed at one point and I wore shields for a while too - my supply was excessive so I didn't need to worry about my supply reducing.

It became enjoyable after about 4mths. Then I loved it! Second and third time round - only a few days of discomfort. As you say, 'this too shall pass'. Persevere (and get help/advice from the experts, it is very individual) - hope feeding improves. It's totally worth it!

Libby said...

PS - I think my 4mths was a little extreme - I know a lot of people for whom it became enjoyable a lot earlier :)

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing that, Libby! I couldn't understand why I found it so painful when there's no visible reason why it should be the case. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one and that you found it easier down the track.

Janine Ripper said...

Congratulations my dear on your families arrival - your bubba looks beautiful. And congrats for blogging so soon! You go girl!