It’s now the third week of m’boy being home and… well, it’s been an interesting week for us!
Reminder: This blog is the work of a sleep-deprived, first-time-parent, trying to talk frankly and honestly about his experience. I make no apologies for the language used.
First, a general update. It’s hard to judge how our experience compares to life in ‘the old normal’, but it feels like things are going about as well as can be expected.
We’re still finding our feet. We’re a long way from any sort of routine, but we’re trying to assemble a toolbox of things that work for us. There are a few gadgets and tricks that can help take the pressure off, which I will talk more about in future posts.
We have, understandably, been handling m’boy like he’s made of glass, but he doesn’t actually seem that fragile to me. This is probably because he’s a big baby at nearly 10lb. Apparently, he was bigger than both of the other babies on the recovery ward combined. I can only imagine how much more terrifying the last few weeks would have been if he was that small!
Midwife Discharge and the Health Visitor
With our NHS trust, you get three visits from a hospital midwife before you are officially discharged. Then a health visitor, from your local GP, takes over. Apparently these visits were called off for a while in the general confusion at the beginning of lockdown, but now they’re back on. Good thing too! There’s a high risk of postpartum depression in mothers who aren’t giving birth during an international crisis and under lockdown! Anyway, I had to leave the room when the midwife was here but was allowed to stay and talk to the health visitor (from a safe distance). Mostly they just check the baby, weighing him etc., and check-in with m’wife to make sure she is OK.
Baby Life Hack #1
During one of her visits, the midwife suggested a breastfeeding ‘life hack’, which was to feed him on one side, then the other, with a nappy change in the middle, meaning that the baby is freshly changed and more likely to nap afterwards. This seemed to make a big difference at the time and is something we have continued to do.
One of the few baby-things I can help with is nappy changing. Not the most pleasant subject – and we are determined not to become like most new parents (and dog owners) who seem to lose all sense of the role that poo should play in polite conversation! – but it is hard to avoid when talking about life with a newborn.
All I will say is this: It’s not actually as unpleasant as you might imagine. For the most part (at least in the beginning) it’s just an issue of volume. Apparently, for the first 12 days, you can expect one extra change for every day of the baby’s life. Put it this way, there are 44 nappies in a pack and you will be lucky if two packs last the week!
Anyway, the last thing I will say is that it’s one of those things that you can obsess and worry about ahead of time but, in the heat of the moment, when you have to, you just get on with it.
The Cord Stump
One thing we were not prepared for is the umbilical cord. This as another of the innumerable things about parenthood that doesn’t really get discussed or shown on TV. When the baby is born, they cut it, put a clip on it (like the clips you hang your washing up with) and then basically just leave it. So, you’re left with this weird lump that you have to keep clean as it starts to turn black and oozes… Anyway, we’ve consulted his grandma (a nurse) and the midwife and we are assured that all is all totally normal. Just another little detail that gets missed out of the whole “beautiful miracle” thing. Hopefully, it will drop off soon and we can stop worrying about it.
Back to Hospital
The big news happened a few nights ago. I went out to do a big shop and returned to find my wife looking worried and talking on the phone. While she was feeding him, she noticed a bump, about the size of a grape, on his collarbone. She had called 111 (the NHS non-emergency number), then an out-of-hours GP rang back and advised her to take m’boy to the hospital to get checked. I think they’re a little over-cautions with newborns. Anyway, we were admitted to the kids’ A&E department where, eventually, we were seen by a nurse, then a couple of hours later, a Doctor, who got him x-rayed.
Apparently, m’boy has a fractured clavicle, which the doctor said was almost certainly caused by the forceps during the birth (which was apparently even more dramatic than we first thought!). My wife was paranoid and we were asked questions about whether we had dropped him or dropped anything on him… all routine, of course, but m’wife was convinced that social services were going take him away! However, the doctor said that the injury was weeks old and went out of his way to assure us that we were not to blame.
Having left the house around 7pm, we finally returned at 1am. I think there were reduced staff due to the virus and apparently there had been an actual emergency just before we arrived so, although it took a long time, we appreciate that the NHS has a lot on its plate at the minute. Fortunately, we are the sort of people who are able to be patient and keep our heads in this kind of situation.
So, that was our first anxious hospital visit as parents and, as it turned out, our son’s first broken bone – something we didn’t think we’d have to deal with for about eight years! Considering the poor little bugger has basically had a broken bone since the day that he was born, he has, in hindsight, been a very good boy; very rarely crying so much that he couldn’t be settled with a feed.
It feels like we are just about managing to keep our heads above water, but the fracture was an unexpected stress during what is already parenting on ‘hard mode’.
Hopefully, that will be one of the more difficult weeks in m’boy’s young life, but lockdown ain’t over yet…
It will be ‘interesting’ to see what happens when I have to go back to work at the end of next week!