Surviving the 1st Week of Parenthood
I will say the first week of parenthood feels like the longest week and the shortest week at the same time. All I can say is that having a very hands-on husband is the best push present any new mother can ask for. I think after this first week of parenthood, I have never loved my husband more.
In your sleep deprived state, everything seems like a blur. Your life has just been turned upside down as now you have a little human depending on you, and you have no idea what to do.
Through my personal experience, no matter how many books you read or story you hear from your friends, you will still feel very unprepared and overwhelmed when your little bundle of joy arrived. It is not that you don't know the theory of what to do and what's going on. It is the actual doing it part that feels overwhelming and scary. After all, as new parents, everything is new to you.
On the day of birth, I was very excited, as I finally get the meet my baby boy. It was also a relief for me, once I know he is ok and alive, I will finally be able to get over my fear of the miscarriage.
As I was going down the private hospital route, I found all the staff friendly and helpful. Honestly, I wasn't scared about the procedure at all, as I felt very well taken care of. The nurses kept checking up on me to make sure I was doing ok and wasn't too worried.
After birth, everything was a bit of a blur. I remember when the baby was out, there was a long silence, and I was so worried that something was wrong. It was only after I heard my baby cry for the first time that I felt a rush of relief and comfort. I couldn't help but cried when I first heard his little cry, my baby boy is finally here and he is ok.
After a swift skin to skin contact and a little kiss, the nurse quickly whisked him away to be cleaned up. My husband had to go with him, so it was just me in the operation theatre. I just remember being very drugged up and feeling absolutely exhausted after. Once I got back to my room, I was pretty much out of it and just wanted to rest.
I opt for fully breastfeeding while in the hospital. As I had a cesarian birth, I was bedbound for 24 hours, so every 4 hours, the nurse will wheel the baby in so I can try to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is another challenge altogether. Even though so many of my friends have shared their breastfeeding experience with me, and I have read up about it, doing it is a different story. First of all, when people tell you about latching, you are not quite sure whether the baby has really latched on for the first time. The baby is on your boob and looks like he is sucking, but he might not be latching. The first time when I tried breastfeeding, the nurse was helping me position the baby, so it is easier to latch. (I have short nipples, so I was told it was going to be a bit of a challenge.) We tried a few positions, and when Joshua was finally on my nipple and looked like he is sucking, the nurse told me that was it, and I was doing a good job. So I thought, Great - this is amazing. It doesn't seem to be as hard and painful as everyone was telling me. But oh boy, how wrong was I. Now that I have experienced latching, that wasn't latching, that was just Joshua using me as a dummy. Hence why I didn't feel that initial strong suction when they actually latched on.
The let down hit me badly that day. It was a mixture of hormones and exhaustion that just made day 2 probably the worst day throughout this first week.
After lying in bed for 24 hours in pretty much the same position, I had to get out of bed and walk. Honestly, this was the part that I dreaded the most. I was so worried that it will be so painful that I won't be able to do it. Surprisingly, I was feeling ok.
Granted I was drugged up on painkillers to the max. (One up my bum daily and some oral ones throughout the day.) But with some assistance, I was able to walk - very slowly. I was very uncomfortable, and my legs felt a bit like jelly, but at least I was able to walk if I needed to.
The low point of the day was the letdown. My friends have warned me that you will feel down and emotional after the birth, and day 2 I definitely felt that. I cried a few times that day, it also didn't help that I had an argument with my mum. Which just made the day even more emotional.
The highlight of my day was being able to see Joshua during breastfeeding, and he managed to latch properly for the first time.
I felt a lot more rejuvenated on the third day after a proper meal. I was still tired, but at least I was able to pull myself up if I needed to, and by the end of the day, I was able to walk by myself. I would still hold onto the railing or lean on the wall while I walk, but at least I don't need someone to hold my hands while walking.
As I was mobile by the third day, they no longer wheeled the baby to my room, and I had to walk to the breastfeeding room. Breastfeeding in the breastfeeding room was very different. For the first two days, I have a nurse helping me one on one, which was super helpful. As I mentioned before, I have short nipples, so I needed a lot of assistance for Joshua to latch on properly. However, in the breastfeeding room, you are in a room full of new mummies who are all trying to breastfeed. No one knows what they are doing, and you have about 3 nurses between the 10 of you. (sometimes even more.)
I found breastfeeding in the breastfeeding room quite stressful. Not only did I feel very useless half the time, as Joshua wasn't latching, or keep falling asleep after sucking twice. But trying to get a nurse's attention was difficult, as everyone wanted help. I found the day nurses a lot more helpful, the evening nurses were a lot more blazay about the whole thing. Sometimes I found that their advice was utterly useless. The only useful advice they gave me during my 4pm feed was that his jaundice was getting worse and he wasn't really urinating much so I could consider giving him some formula to substitute as my breast milk hasn't kicked in yet. It wasn't an ideal choice for me as I opt for fully breastfeeding when I checked into the hospital. However, I made the call that evening to give him some formula as I didn't want his jaundice to get worse. As much as I am very pro-breastfeeding, I think that was one of the best choices I made. To me, the safety of my child always comes first, and I didn't want my ideal to jeopardise that.
The low point for me that day was the midnight feed. As I was the only mum who opted for fully breastfeeding, I was the only one there, and still, I felt like I had hardly any help. They simply took the baby out, gave me a bell to ring if I am stuck or an emergency, and went back to care for the other babies. When I asked for advice or assistance, they helped me latched quickly and went off their merry way. I wanted to come back for the 4 am feed, but the nurse told me not to and just rest. Thinking back though, I should have insisted, as it is part of their job and I was waking up at 4 am anyway, as the last two days, I had to get up and feed.
Mother's day - What a memorable first mother's day it is. It was also the day I was discharged from the hospital. All I remember was manic, hectic, worried, and anxious. Why? Because it is the first day I am going home with my newborn son, but my confinement lady doesn't start until the next day.
Even though she had plans that evening, she was very nice and came in for a few hours to teach us the basic. At least we will know how to fed and change him. I was just so worried that my poor baby boy will starve for the first day as I haven't mastered how to breastfeed yet and I had never made a bottle of formula before. I just remember being so worried that I won't be able to keep my son alive the first day I am home.
Thank God for a very hands-on husband, we managed to survive the night. It was brutal, but with some teamwork, we manage to feed him and change him that evening. Going through this together with my husband was definitely the highlight of my day. I had no idea what I would have done without his help.
The first day the confinement lady started work, Oh My God was I so grateful! I still remember how happy I was to see her that day. As if God sent me an angel from above. I think the minute she arrived, I managed to relax as I know I have the help and someone can guide me and tell me what I needed to do.
Even though it was still a bit manic, as it was her first day, so she had no idea where everything was, but at least I know I would be fed, and someone would be able to help me with the baby.
I honestly can't remember much about the 5th day apart from a sense of relief and gratitude that I am getting help.
The night shift is brutal, especially the 1am feed. As Joshua was pretty much just on formula at this point, we didn't realize the poor little guy was having a bit of constipation, so he was crying bloody murder at 1am till 5am in the morning.
As new parents, we also had no idea what was going on. We fed him, changed him, and he was still crying. We tried soothing him, and every time he fell asleep, and we put him down, he would cry bloody murder again. It was tough - not only because we had no sleep, but it was the worry and panic of not knowing what was going on and what was causing him to be so unhappy. We only realised he was constipated because he stopped crying and gave us a smile the minute he did a poo. It was the first time I was so happy to see poo in my life!
I think this day both me and my husband felt the most sleep deprived. Neither of us had any rest, we were just happy that we had each other to lean on and share the work. I think if I were doing this myself, I would be crying that evening.
When I saw my confinement lady that morning, both my husband and I looked like the walking dead. She asked us what happened last night and we told her that he was crying from 1am till 5am because Joshua was constipated. She quickly gave us some tips on what we can do if Joshua is constipated again. Having her here was terrific, as she is so experienced, she is basically a walking baby bible. She was able to give us various solutions to our problems, which gave us a lot more confident and reassurance.
I will say having a confinement lady was one of the best decision we have made so far - definitely worth every penny. I now understand why people hire them for a couple of months, some even half a year. It just gives you some alone time or adult time during this transition, so it is easier for you to adapt. I know for sure without her, there is no way in hell I would be able to write this blog post. It is a bit of a miracle really, I am pretty much typing as I pump as that is the only time I have to myself.
Even though the first week was tough, sometimes hell, especially when your baby refuses to sleep and is crying like crazy. However, every single time I look at my little miracle, it is all worth it. Especially when he gives you a little smile or when he is sleeping like an angel.
How was your first week of parenthood? Was it smooth sailing or was it similar to mine? Please share your experience with me, as I always say, mummies, have to stick together. It is nice to know you are not alone, every mama has gone through sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Take every day one step at a time, and celebrate every win you get. It will make your first week a lot happier.
Sending you love and positive thoughts,