We’ve been in the hospital. Again.
Its been a bit of a miserable week. When we were first discharged from the maternity ward, they misrecorded us as going to the Special Baby Care Unit rather than home. That was on Friday. The community midwife was supposed to come and see us on Saturday, but didn’t because we hadn’t been officially discharged on their system. So we thought that they would come on Sunday, they didn’t.
I spent most of Monday morning on the telephone sorting things out and, to be fair, the sweetest community midwife did come to see us. She advised us that if our tiny Balthazar began to look any more yellow or to seem sleepy to the point of not being able to feed at all, to come back to the hospital. And he did both of these things on the Monday evening, so we did. Via Accident & Emergency.
He had lost eleven percent of his bodyweight. Nobody had noticed that his tongue tie prevented him from latching properly. He can take fifteen minutes to drink 10ml of milk from a bottle, so goodness knows how little he was taking from the breast. Our poor little baby suddenly seemed incredibly sick. On top of that, my supply has started to crash because he’s not eating – I seem to only be producing enough to feed one of my two infants.
We haven’t had a nice stay back on the postnatal ward. It’s been fairly hellish, and I lost count of the number of times the babies screamed with hunger because the midwives took hours to bring the breastpump, or donor milk. Yes – donor milk. I’ve always loved the concept, but that was when I had pictured myself as the donor. There is something devastating about somebody else feeding your child. It’s worse when you have to beg professionals to please remember to bring the milk this time, because you’ve had to ask three different people and it’s been over an hour and the babies are hysterical and the paediatricians will be unhappy if they don’t eat according to their feeding schedule.
But we’re all home now. I have a crappy little breastpump that is doing rather a good job, and tomorrow my hospital-grade Medela Symphony will be rocking up. I’m also going to try my hand at getting a prescription of domperidone from my GP. The boys still prefer my breastmilk, even if they don’t much enjoy the effort of sucking from the breast.
It’s a setback. It’s been frightening at times. I’ll admit that my devastation over my difficulty with breastfeeding is probably disproportionate but I hadn’t planned for any of this. I wanted to be the mummy that feeds the babies; I’m not going to be the primary care-giver and I didn’t want to be (Kirsty is made for that role) but I did want the experience of feeding them. It’s just all really hard right now, and I feel dreadful that our baby got himself into that state and I didn’t even notice. And angry at the catalogue of errors that meant that his feeding difficulties weren’t picked up on days before, by the trained professionals. What if I hadn’t managed to get a community midwife out that day? Would I have continued to mistake his starved exhaustion for newborn sleepiness? It frightens me to think about it.
I suppose that the bright side was that Kirsty was able to give them their first ever bottles (and those did contain my expressed breast milk). But I hadn’t wanted them to know bottles until I went back to work.
We hadn’t expected a three-day hospital stay so didn’t bring the big camera (or books or iPhone chargers or changes of clothes or anything useful, really) but I did have the GoPro and we did take some images whilst we were there. They’re very real. There is nipple. And breastpump. Don’t scroll down if such a thing offends you (and if you’re my mother’s work colleagues – hi, by the way! – she really would rather that you didn’t).
I expect that I’ll stop feeling like such a failure in time. It’s just been a really long few days.