while my little one sleeps…


…let’s see how much typing I can get done.

So I think I caught up my hospital stay, right? Jakob was born on Thursday and I left the hospital on Sunday afternoon. It was a long weekend so I knew I’d have Yannick and my parents around on the Monday to help out, and it turned out to be a great thing they were all available, as the week didn’t start off so well.

On Monday Isabelle, a baby nurse from my local CLSC came by to take a look at Jakob and to take out my surgery staples. I’m not sure how it is in other provinces and in the rest of the world, but here in Quebec a nurse comes to visit you a day or two after you leave the hospital with your baby. You don’t need to make an appointment or anything, it is all arranged by the hospital for you. Anyways, Isabelle came by and weighed Jakob and saw that he had lost more weight. All babies lose weight after birth (mostly water) and up to under 10% is an acceptable amount. Jakob had been born at 8.0 lbs and when weighed each night at the hospital, he went down first to 7 lbs 12 oz, then to 7 lbs 7 oz, then to 7 lbs 3 oz.. Now that the nurse was weighing him at our house he was down to 7 lbs 2 oz, which was around 11% of his body weight lost.

Isabelle made it clear that this was not good. In fact, she also informed us that he was jaundiced, something no one at the hospital ever told us. Up to that point we’d thought it was normal that he was very sleepy and difficult to wake for feedings, but it turns out that the more weight he lost, the bigger an effort it took to stay awake, so he had no energy left to feed, which led to more weight loss…it was a very hard time. The only way to flush the jaundice from him was to make him drink since it leaves the body in his waste, but he was too tired to drink. If the jaundice got worse than we’d have to bring him back to the hospital to stay under the lights and I’d have to leave my newborn. Needless to say I was very shaken and upset.

She told us that we had to follow a strict regimine until his weight was back up:

-I had to strip him down to his diaper before each feed so that he’d get cold and wake up.

-then I had to get him to do a good drink (swallowing, not just sucking) for 15-20 minutes on one side

-then burp him and change his diaper to wake him back up

-then get him to drink the same way on the other side

-once that was done I had to feed him a 1 oz supplement of pumped breast milk or formula

-then pump for 20 minutes to boost milk production

This whole process had to be repeated every 3 hours. I didn’t have a pump yet so Yannick had to run out and buy one, and also a can of prepared formula to have something to give Jakob for the first few feeds until I had a chance to sterilize the breast pump. Only our first day home and my biggest desire to NOT give our son formula was ruined. On top of that, he was SO sleepy that getting him to drink for 15 minutes sometimes took over 30. And he burped well, even after 10 minutes he still could have resisted burping. That meant the whole strip-feed-burp-change-feed-supplement-pump routine could (and often did) take almost 2 hours. The “repeat every 3 hours” starts from when the last feed BEGAN, so if I started feeding him at 9am and only finished at 11am I still had to start back over at 12pm, next feed at 3pm, and so on. This went on around the clock. I was so utterly exhausted because anything I did in that brief hour or so between feeds, whether eating, taking calls or even going to the bathroom, everything took away from sleep. I couldn’t figure out how mothers left the house with their babies when I couldn’t even think about sleep without wanting to cry.

Isabelle had given us a syringe with a wide mouth to administer the 1 oz supplement, and at the pharmacy Yannick had asked for a small cup to have another option. Both options worked when I had someone with me to hold Jakob or at least hold his arms out of the way, but neither one worked well when I was alone with him throughout the night. So by the second day we were home I had to scrap another strong conviction- to not give him bottles. I was so tired and desperate that I caved and used bottles to give him the supplement

The whole time I kept wondering if I would suffer for it in the end, if it would screw up his latch, all the stuff they warn you about during prenatal classes when they try to drill in the importance of all breastfeeding, all the time, for the first six months at least. They really hammer it home- no bottles, no pacifiers, no formula. And Yannick and I had such convictions that we would be able to do it.

Isabelle had come by the following morning (Tuesday) and weighed Jakob again and he was up an ounce, so our efforts were working. I was elated- until that afternoon when he seemed weaker than ever. Most feeds were an effort; he’d fall asleep so often while feeding that I had to constantly stroke his cheek, tap under his jaw, dab him with a cool compress, etc, to provoke him to wake up and keep sucking. Tuesday afternoon he was so sleepy that we were practically dipping him into a bowl of ice water and I couldn’t get him to wake up to drink. He slept through an entire feed and all I could think about was how much weight he’d lose and would we have to bring him back to the hospital. It was a lot of pressure for a situation that wasn’t completely in my control and it was a very hard time.

Even though he’d gained an ounce we weren’t out of the woods yet. We were asked to bring Jakob to the CLSC on Thursday to have him weighed again. Every Tuesday and Thursday the CLSC has a free clinic where you can get breastfeeding advice from a lactation consultant, weigh your baby, see a nurse, and chat/socialize with other mothers. We agreed to bring him then asked our important question: was he healthy enough for his bris which was scheduled for Friday morning? (The Jewish circumsision ceremony is usually done on the 8th day which would have been Thursday but it was a high holiday and because I’d had a c-section it was required to go to the Friday). She couldn’t tell us if he would be strong enough, it would all depend on his weight.

Thursday we took him out for the first time. Yannick took time off work and we brought him to the CLSC. Now he was up to 7 lbs 4 oz. It had taken him 2 days, but at least he’d put on some weight.

I was really scared for how the bris would knock him out though. A trauma like that would knock out any infant, but Jakob already had so little strength and I was afraid that any progress we’d made would be set back. Friday morning I gave him some baby Advil on the moyel’s advice (the rabbi who does the ceremony) and we went to the synagogue for the bris.

I’m happy to say he did really well. He cried for a split second when the moyel took off his diaper and he was exposed to the cold, and that was it. He did poo during the ceremony though, which will be a story we’ll love to tell his future dates. šŸ™‚ We didn’t allow anyone to hold him during the brunch afterwards, as we wanted him to rest and recoup his strength.

Afterwards we went home and spent the weekend cocooning in our 3 hour routine. It was exhausting and frustrating and I cried and screamed more than I would like to admit, but we made it through our first week.

Next post: week two.

Author: Jennifer Lori

Punny dork who makes stuff.

2 thoughts on “while my little one sleeps…

  1. I never had kids, so I can’t imagine what you have been going through. You’ve been doing a great job, though, from the pictures. He looks happy and healthy–what more can you ask for? Hang in there!


  2. Wow, that sounds so terribly stressful! It’s amazing how small and vulnerable they seem the first few weeks. He looks so wonderfully healthy now, so you’ve done a marvelous job! I hope you are getting a little more sleep now.


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