Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Hospital Stay

Thank you for all the kind messages welcoming little Laurence to the world. And yes, I'm biased, but he is without a doubt the most adorable baby I've ever laid eyes on.

As I mentioned on his birth announcement post, we had a bit of an extended stay in hospital so I thought I'd say a few words about that.

Day 3
Laurie was born on the third day of my hospital stay so I'm starting from there.

Allow me to take you back for a second to the minutes following my son's birth. After he'd had his checks by the paediatrician I was handed a bawling, wrinkle-faced newborn. I'd wanted to say something really profound to him but instead I think I mumbled something about being his mummy and kept repeating 'I know, I know' in response to his cries. I was feeling rather swimmy headed at the time.

At one point I glanced down the bed and saw the placenta had been delivered and marvelled at the fact I wasn't aware of that actually happening. I also noticed that there seemed to be rather a lot of people working down that end of the bed.

Then someone came back and said that the baby was going to his daddy now and started talking about me going to theatre. As they took Laurie from my arms and handed him to Mr Click I took another look down the bed where there seemed to be even more people and a bowl full of blood. Somewhere at the back of my mind I managed to focus on the thought 'oh no, that's not good'.

And the next thing I knew I was being wheeled away to theatre.

Although I'd been told I might not be knocked out, once there the decision was made to put me under. I found myself painfully aware of an episode of ER where Abby has Luka's baby and she haemorrhages so has a hysterectomy. My last thought as they put me to sleep was 'please don't take my uterus' and rather hilariously in hindsight 'it's going to be expensive enough to fund a frozen embryo transfer, I can't afford a surrogate as well!'

And the next thing I knew I was coming round in some place with Mr Click on one side of me and a baby in a plastic crib on the other. I guess I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while because at one point Mr Click told me he was going and then the next minute I was aware that he wasn't there anymore.

By about lunchtime I was conscious and once I found my phone I messaged my husband asking him to come back. I'd had a cuddle with the baby, with the help of a midwife, but I'd also been told I needed a blood transfusion and I wanted Mr Click with me right then and there. He'd been sent to the hotel by the midwives to get some rest and had intended to come back to see me later that afternoon anyway.

The rest of that day is a bit of a jumbled blur. There was an attempt to breastfeed, a session of expressing colostrum into a syringe, a bed bath and the changing of my sheets/getting dressed into a nightie. I know that last one happened before the blood transfusion because I'm wearing the nightie in the photo Mr Click took of me holding Laurie whilst receiving the blood but I have no recollection of when it actually happened.

The day ended with one of the midwives coming to tell me, shortly before midnight, that it was snowing outside. A nice little welcome to the world for Laurie from his snowflake siblings.

Day 4
This was the day I finally made it out of recovery and onto the ward (which I then Brianne convinced I would never leave). I'd been kept in recovery because there was a chance I was going to need another blood transfusion, something I managed to avoid.

Once I had my catheter out I was able to get up, go pee and then take a shower. Just going to the toilet proved to be exhausting and on the short walk back to my bed I wondered if I would make it. Every step hurt. Thankfully I was able take my shower sitting down.

Laurie and I were then wheeled up to the ward where we ended up in the same room as my stay at 9 weeks, in fact I was in the bed next to the one I stayed in before. That meant my window looked on to the corridor rather than out on to the roof.

My Mum arrived and she and Mr Click came in to visit. Technically only partners are allowed to visit 11am to 9pm, extra visitors are supposed to follow the afternoon visiting times. We were able to get special dispensation due to her having come all the way from Wales.

I was thrilled to see both of them, but again, most of Tuesday is a bit of a blur. Mum brought Laurie and I some gifts, and I remember some suggestively shaped cream cakes. We chatted through the day and passed the baby back and forth. Mostly I felt really tired, I'm guessing this was a combination of the birth, exhaustion and the blood transfusion (which I've heard can make people feel funny for a while afterwards).

Day 5
I was anticipating this being my last full day in the hospital. I felt like I was moving a lot easier, though this was the day I toppled over backwards, landing on my backside, as I crouched down to pick something up. I'm still feeling bruised from that!

This was the day that breastfeeding properly clicked for us. Laurie has a slight tongue tie and that combined with the traumatic birth/blood loss slowed down my milk coming in. Laurie got the hang of latching on the left side but because of the tongue tie it took a touch longer to get the hang of latching on the right.

As you can see from the photo above, Laurie had a touch of jaundice. It was within normal levels though, so we weren't too concerned and all his other checks were fine. Though he needed a retest on his hearing screening.

There was still some concern about my blood pressure being high and my iron levels being low. All the stuff I was being given for pain, iron levels, and to help me go to the loo, along with too much dairy, conspired against me and upset my stomach, which then had them questioning whether I might have an infection and need quarantining. But I was determined I was getting out the following day, although in hindsight a quarantine room would have helped me get a little more sleep I'm sure.

I was also looking forward to getting home and getting into a proper routine with the baby. At night in the hospital it was just me and Laurie; I know there were midwives and auxiliary staff to help, but it felt an awful lot like going it alone. At home I knew I would have two extra pairs of hands any time I needed them, and I wouldn't have to wave them off at the end of the day just when I needed them most.

Day 6
We were going home! Mum and Mr Click had been having to extend their stay at the B&B but this was the day they would check out and finally head back to the island.

That morning I dressed Laurie in the little outfit I'd planned for his going home. He was totally channelling baby Toby from Labyrinth.

I showered and dressed and started to organise all my stuff ready to get out of there.

Alas it was not to be.

The midwife came to do the discharge paperwork and went through everything with me. We were almost ready to go.

Then someone decided to weigh Laurie. I've since found out that it's not standard procedure to weigh the baby at this point and also due to the length of time I was receiving fluids during labour he was incredibly puffed up so had a lot of fluids weight to lose.

Laurie was down 11% of his birth weight, so we weren't allowed to leave.

I cried.

I was feeling miserable. I was running out of clean things to wear. The baby was running out of clean things to wear. The hospital food was upsetting my stomach. The constant noise and light on the ward was keeping me from sleeping. My backside was sore from my tumble and the hospital bed wasn't helping that at all. The toilet paper was rough.

Not getting to go home brought it all to a head, especially because this latest turn of events meant that apparently I was starving my son or something.

I was set up with a breast pump and the plan was to pump every three hours in the hopes that Laurie would gain back that magic 2% of his birth weight to get us out of there. We cup fed him to avoid him getting an easy go with the bottle (since his tongue tie meant he had to work harder at the breast) and I started to feel confident that we were doing a good job.

Until that night when one of the midwives told me off for comfort nursing the little man to get him to sleep, told me she'd seen more babies struggle with switching between cup and breastfeeding than switching between bottle and breastfeeding, and told me if he was fussing and keeping me awake she'd take him away and give him a bottle of formula.

I cried some more and spent the rest of my hospital stay pretending to be asleep when she came round.

Day 7
I had a feeling we wouldn't be getting out of there this day. Whereas the previous day I'd confidently showered and dressed, I didn't bother this time. I guess deep down I knew he hadn't gained anything.

First there was the matter of his jaundice. He still registered a reading on the meter but it was low enough to be normal for his age.

But his weight? He'd not lost anything, but he hadn't gained any either. So we were still stuck.

This time I really cried. In fact, just thinking about that hopeless, helpless feeling I felt stuck in that hospital bed, no fresh air, no proper daylight, no proper food or loo roll, makes me want to tear up a bit. Even though I'm writing this in the comfort of my own home, my own bed, nursing my son with my Labrador at my feet.

We got a new feeding plan. I was to pump to feed him and then top him up with formula, then offer the breast in between times. Even at the time this sounded backwards to me. Surely to encourage him to feed he needed more opportunities to take the boob, not less.

The result of this was, of course, that he would fill up on the milk I pumped, take the formula I coaxed into him, then would fall asleep any time I tried to put him on the boob. He was full, he didn't need to breastfeed. And the formula made him sicky and gassy. So I was constantly having to get his bedding changed and mop him up.

On the plus side, I did learn how to cup feed by myself so I didn't have to spend the night pushing the buzzer and hoping I didn't get the midwife who made me cry.

Despite the feeding plan feeling like the complete opposite of what I should be doing, I went along with it because I wanted out. But I also formulated a plan.

If his weight was down again at the next weigh in I would ask to switch to formula feeding, even though it made him puke and windy. I'd formula feed til he gained enough to get us out of there and then once home I'd ask the local midwives for help reestablishing breastfeeding.

I also intended to send a text to one of the local midwives or get Mr Click to give them a call because the hospital seemed to think that once we left we would be on our own, as though we lived in some little backwater without maternity or postnatal care.

They kept telling me it was better to be there than risk having to be readmitted later. But I had a horrible feeling that part of the reason we were still there was because I was still in hospital. It was like a vicious circle; the longer I was there, the more stressed and tired I became, and the more stressed and tired I became, the harder it was to feed Laurie, so we were detained even longer.

Having a plan to help get us out made me feel a little better and I was optimistic that if we called on the local midwives, they might help us escape.

The Escape
As it turns out, that wasn't necessary.

My final morning in hospital dawned and the midwife who admitted me exactly a week before was on shift. And she was shocked to see me still there.

I told her everything that had happened that week and she replied 'we'll get you out today'. All my nefarious plotting to get us out come hell or high water was unnecessary. I was getting out of there.

I also spoke to her about my feeding plan and admitted I was basically going along with it to get out of the hospital and she said one of the best things to me. Seriously, this is something that all new mums should be told. Midwives should have it tattooed across their foreheads.

She said 'Ultimately we can only give you guidance. At the end of the day, it's your baby and you have to do what's right for you and him.'

And then she weighed him and he was at 9% down from his birth weight, so we were allowed to leave. I couldn't believe it. I'd not let myself believe it was possible so I hadn't even bothered to get dressed.

And so we were finally able to venture out into the big wide world with our son and head home.

Via Boots to pick up a breast pump. Which I've used once since we got it.

Because it turns out that being home makes me feel so much more relaxed that breastfeeding goes a hell of a lot easier!


  1. What a mess! Glad you all made it out of there in one piece and home!!

    1. It was a little chaotic. The staff were generally wonderful people, it was just not the best environment for me once I was feeling better.


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