Week 1 – Failed (Mum Test No.1: feeding)

Everyone always told me I’d be an amazing mum. Don’t ask me why – maybe it’s my matronly figure, or merry disposition, but whatever it is, I have to admit to having a bit of a false sense of security about this whole parenting thing. People have said how terrifying it is to leave hospital for the first time, and how scary that first night on your own is, but I had no such doubts. I felt like we’d all be fine. However hard it got, we’d just get through it. So he cried, a lot. That’s what babies do, right?

Midwifes came and went in the first few days (a different one every time, without appointments or even introducing themselves one time) and all seemed OK. Baby was latching on and feeding well. Or so we thought. He wouldn’t sleep in his crib so Chris and I were doing shifts throughout the night holding him as he slept (trying not to fall asleep ourselves so that he wouldn’t get squashed). Although it was all rather intense, I never thought – this isn’t right, he’s really not happy here. Well we were warned by literally everyone how mad those first weeks are so why worry unnecessarily.

One thing we weren’t warned about however was a side effect of a C-section. Not one single health visitor, nurse or book told me that I should look out to make sure my milk was coming through properly and plentifully. It was coming through for sure but at 5 days old we took him for a routine check and discovered the poor sod had lost 15% of his birth weight. Well bugger me sideways. He didn’t look remotely poorly, even the midwife said so. But dutifully she sent us off to the local children’s A&E who saw us within the hour.

He was worryingly dehydrated so they immediately prescribed a strict feeding regime (breast, express, top-up). Much like the birth, what followed next felt like a lot of over-cautious doctoring but seeing as I had virtually starved my own baby, who was I to argue. Due to a slight temperature (in a super hot ward) they chose to keep us in, start him on some antibiotics and give him every invasive test under the sun, to be on the safe side.

I was beside myself with worry and exhaustion. My instinct told me that all the extra tests were a nonsense and that we should be allowed to go home and feed the poor little fella up. But the nurses were great. Hubby and I were both able to stay (on the single fold-out bed) and together we got into a good rhythm. Virtually force-feeding Ernie every 2 hours he responded so quickly and so well I was actually grateful to have been in hospital. Thankfully all the tests came back clean and his weight was right back up after two nights.

Back home after his first eventful week everything is now so much calmer. He doesn’t cry anywhere near as much and he sleeps like a baby. It’s relative bliss to what we were dealing with before. If only we’d know to look out for a few more of the warning signs and we might not have put him through so much. I never expected such large mammaries could be such a let down. Yet I can’t help thinking that the midwife checks, although the saved us in the end, were the thing that let us down the most. Perhaps if we had the same person more than once, or they had been a bit more attentive, who knows. He seems unfazed and no real harm was done bar a slight knock in my confidence (which is no bad thing).

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