Carter is now five days old. Hard to believe we're just a couple days shy of a week! Looking back in the blog, I see that the five day mark for Jacob was the day of my big breakdown. I had been spending a ton of time at the hospital and struggled through healing, engorgement, pumping, and the general stress of having a baby in the hospital. I was stuck in a little room adjacent to the special care nursery, and I wasn't able to be comfortable or take regular naps or anything that I probably should have been doing. I was worried about not being able to pump enough, and spending enough time at the hospital to nurse as much as possible. I didn't want to have to supplement with formula. And in the late afternoon of day five, all of it broke me down. I couldn't handle it anymore. I broke down sobbing, and pretty much didn't stop for three hours. We were supposed to go out to a nice dinner with my parents, but I was in no shape for that. Craig drove me home and I holed up in our room to cry it out. Eventually I emerged to do some internet research on formula supplementation, then came out to eat some Wendy's, including a giant Frosty. We watched the first episode of "Wipeout", which actually got me laughing on one of the worst days of my life.
In retrospect, I know that it was a combination of hormones, exhaustion, and stress that drove me to that moment. It may have seemed irrational at the time, but it was a very real problem for me at the time, and it was the first time I realized how important sleep was. I had to take care of myself in order to properly take care of my baby, and without sleep that was so much harder, mentally and physically.
Fast-forward to today, five days into our time with Carter, and it's a vastly different picture. He came home on time, and we've had plenty of ability to hang out at home, stay well-rested, and get to know him. At this point with Jacob we were still pretty clueless to his rhythms because our experiences with him were only in the nursery. We've had all this extra time to get used to Carter, and while we're still a little clueless most of the time, this time has been such a bonus. I don't feel like I've had to battle hormones, and my outlook has been mostly positive. Nursing issues in the last day or so (engorgement along with shorter feeding sessions--sometimes one right after the other) have left me a little more worried and frustrated than I had been up until this point, but the difference between the two experiences has been nearly night and day.
Last time around I wondered how new moms functioned at home with a newborn while still having so much healing to do, but it turns out that it was easier to spend that time at home with a baby than doing it in the hospital or in the special care nursery. Maybe my healing was easier this time so it would have been easier regardless of where, but it's been so nice to be at home. Comfortable chairs, my own TV and bed, and easy access to food makes things so much easier.
In a little while we're heading out to the doctor's office for Carter's first appointment. I'm a little nervous about his jaundice. He's been pooping and peeing like a champ, but I've never been very good at seeing the yellow so it's hard to tell how much it is still affecting him. I'm sure he's fine, but you always second-guess yourself with a new baby. He's also been a little congested--lots of sneezes and snorts and squeaks--so I'll ask about that, too. I'm interested to see his weight and get the little confidence boost that we're doing okay. That said, I'm a little nervous about taking him out for the first time, particularly with his errratic nursing schedule.
Still, compared to where we were at this point with Jacob, it blows my mind how much different our experience has been. I feel like this has healed some of the lasting frustration I had from our first go-around, which was one of the things I really wanted from this experience. Having a healthy baby was number one, but having a "normal" experience was really important to me. And considering how crazy the labor experience was (again...though in a different way), it's been nice to have one thing go according to plan. Not much does when it comes to new babies, so for that I am grateful. We are truly blessed.