Thursday, November 14, 2013

Birth Story Chapter 2: Neonatal Ward and the Baby Blues

On the afternoon of Forest’s birth, the pediatricians made the call that Forest needed to be looked after in the neonatal ward for a bit. 

This was a highly emotional moment for me to have my brand new baby wheeled away. However, he was extremely fussy and I was extremely tired so used the opportunity to catch a few hours of sleep before tackling the challenge of establishing breast feeding while supplementing with bottled formula. 
Every book I read told me that giving a bottle in the first week could cause nipple confusion and be detrimental to breast feeding efforts. This may be true for some babies, but for us, it was a complete myth. Despite getting ‘topped up’ with formula after every breast feeding session, Forest was latching like a champ. 

The only issue was my sanity. The neonatal ward was about a 10 minute walk from where I was bunking in the hospital, which means I was dragging my exhausted stitched up booty out of bed and across the hospital 9 times a day to feed our guy. Not really conducive to getting the rest I needed after child birth, or the bonding I hoped to establish with Forest in those initial days. 

Not to mention the fact that the recovery ward where I was staying at the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital is akin to a torture chamber. Imagine, battered and bruised from a traumatic birth experience and stuck in a room with 5 other women and their babies and only one bathroom. There was ALWAYS a baby crying or a buzzer of some sort going off. I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital and was under the impression that as soon as Forest’s blood sugars were up in a healthy range, we’d be discharged. WRONG. 

After 48 hours, they finally let Forest come and ‘room-in’ with me in the recovery ward, but we had a least one more day to wait for discharge since I apparently ‘consented’ to a 72 hour anti-biotic regimen ‘in case’ he had an ‘infection’. (P.S. New mother’s should never be considered ‘in their right mind’ to consent to any medical treatments for their children. I do not remember consenting to this and if I did, I definitely missed the part where they were going to keep us on lock down for 3 days.)   

At first I was really excited about Forest staying with me and thought I’d get a lot more rest having him right by my side at feeding times. WRONG AGAIN. Forest was absolutely inconsolable that first night. The only time he would sleep was after a feeding when I held him on my chest. 
The moment I put him in his cot, he would start wailing. I was so frazzled and sleep deprived that I honestly couldn’t handle it. It was one of the lowest points in my whole life. I was actually calling God's bluff on the whole 'I won't give you more than you can handle' business.

I just remember looking around and thinking: ‘I don’t recognize my life. I don’t recognize my body. I am unrecognizable.’ It was awful. When the midwives came around to do their rounds, they asked how I was faring and I just broke down crying. 

I was sure they thought I was plum crazy and were going to take my child away from me for being an unfit parent. Instead, they were very understanding and supportive. Emma, the best midwife ever, explained that day 3 is notorious for being a ‘baby blues’ day, even in the best of circumstances. And here I was, stuck in the hospital with a borderline healthy but fussy newborn, away from my husband and surrounded by crying babies and chaos. No wonder I was emotional, especially with that lovely hormone cocktail controlling my body. 

They offered to take Forest to the nurse’s station so that I could get some rest and I reluctantly agreed to have my baby wheeled away once again.  I felt much better after a cat-nap…until they told me that Forest was toeing the ‘jaundice’ borderline and if he crossed over, that’d buy us 2 more days in Scottish hospital jail. Once again, I lost it. 

I just wanted to be home with my husband and my parents and in a space bigger than my 7X7 curtained off space in the hospital ward. I prayed and prayed as we waited for the latest test results to come back, but the pediatrician had already been by to give me a pamphlet on the dangers of jaundice and the importance of treatment.   

However, the tests came back fine (Praise God!) and I was told that I’d only have one more night in the hospital as long as Forest’s infection markers came back normal. Still, despite the good news, I was quite weepy. Sensing my continued distress, Emma whispered to me, ‘do you think you’d feel better in a private room?’ and I laughed and said, ‘uh...yea!’, and within seconds they were dragging my bed and belongings into my own room…with a door and a private bathroom and everything! 
Pure luxury!

I felt like Kate Middleton or something. More on that experience later…Stay tuned for chapter 3!


  1. Laine, I had my baby in Aberdeen Maternity in April 2009. I'd had a c-section and my husband was ill with shingles (adult chicken pox) and was not allowed near the hospital (understandably). The staff were horrible. You were lucky to have that nice midwife Emma. I was trapped for 5 days there and even then they released me with anaemia which they had failed to notice from my blood tests. I told my husband that the place was like 'Tenko for mother and child' - Tenko being a BBC tv drama series about a prisoner of war camp for women in Asia in WWII. I'm glad you had someone who was nice to you. One midwife I should have made a complaint about but was so exhausted and pleased to leave that I didn't get around to it. Good to see that Forest is doing well. all my best to you three. S

  2. Your entire experience in the NICU breaks my heart...I'm so sorry it was such a terrible experience for you. I have a huge soft spot for stressed out mommas when their little ones are in my care. Glad you're on the other side now