Wowee, what an amazing month it’s been! Finally, I’ve found a moment to write about Violet’s first month on the earth and how our lives have turned upside down from the instant she arrived. We’ve been so busy, it’s been a whirlwind – we have been inundated with amazing friends and family from near and far. We have been finding our feet with family life and coping with the sleep deprivation. Violet grows and changes so much every day, I can’t believe it! As I don’t want to forget a moment I’m going to be writing a month-by-month update on her progress – she changes so quickly so I want a place to document her life and remember each step. As her first month was a crazy one, this might be a rather long post – it was also hard to chose which images to share, I realised I’ve taken over 1000 in the last month on my camera, thats not even counting the ones on my phone and the copious amounts of videos too. Don’t worry I won’t bore you with them all! Here is what we have been up to during our first month…
WEEK ONE – OUR STAY IN HOSPITAL
Violet was born on 24th Feb 2017 and after a rather traumatic birth (read the full story here) she had a few health issues, so we were kept in hospital straight away. On her first night, her blood sugars were checked every two hours, meaning a nasty pin prick to the heel that would make her cry with an ear-piercing scream that just made me want to take her away from it all and protect her. She also struggled to regulate her temperature, so we did extra skin-to-skin to try and help her, although whenever it was checked she was often too hot or cold, so it felt like a constant worry and we didn’t sleep much at all. I think I slept 2 hours in her first 2 days (plus the night of her birth!) Over the next day or so, the Dr’s then noticed she was becoming more and more yellow in colour so eventually after around 24 hours of monitoring, they diagnosed her with jaundice and she was placed on the ‘billy-bed’, which made her look like a cute glow worm under the bright lights.
After a couple of days on the Billy-Bed, we thought she was improving but when the Dr made her check, she actually found she was getting worse. It was 9pm, we were shattered and the midwife came and sat on my bed stating ‘you better sit down‘ and I feared the worst. It turned out they wanted to up the level of treatment as she wasn’t able to recover on the billy-bed, so we were moved to a private room where a full UV lightbox was set up. As we watched the nurse wrapping the eye-protective mask I sobbed as I was so worried, she looked so frail and tiny and would be going into a glass box, where I couldn’t offer any cuddles or comfort to my new baby as she screamed. This was probably the worst night – it was also the night my milk fully came in, I cried and told the midwives I needed to feed her but they insisted she was only allowed 10 minutes out of the lightbox therefore she should have a short feed and then be topped up with formula to flush out her system quickly. I was so upset by this as we were getting on so well with breastfeeding and I was now engorged, in pain and unable to feed, it just felt so wrong to me. That night I slept with her muslin across my bed as it smelled of her, that was the closest I could get to holding her and as a new Mum flooded with hormones from the rush of milk, I found this horrifically painful.
It felt like a lifetime but after a couple of days, the light treatment had worked and finally our baby was returning to a squishy pink colour, rather than a bright yellow. She had to be under observation without the lights for a while, but much to our amazement on the 6th day the midwife arrived early into our room and stated ‘you are going home today!’. I can’t describe the relief! We started packing our things (we had practically moved our whole lives into the hospital by this point) and Vee left to get the car seat. It was finally our moment!
Going home from hospital is such a funny moment! We were so excited to finally take our baby home, but at the same time I suddenly felt a panic that we were going to be trusted to look after this tiny human on our own without the help of a midwife at the touch of a buzzer. She looked absolutely tiny in her car seat and I sat in the back with her so I could keep an eye on her the whole journey. She slept and didn’t seem too bothered about her grand arrival at her new home.
Once we got home, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I popped her in her poddlepod on the sofa and just sat and looked at her. It felt so surreal – she was finally here, we were out of the bubble of being in the hospital, I’d been outside, breathed fresh air again and seen that there is a world outside of the maternity ward. As much as I wanted to be at home, it felt alien and it took me a while to get used to. Of course, we started with the most important thing – a nice cup of tea. That night we must have worried about everything – is the room temperature too hot? Is she wearing the right clothes? Is she hungry? Is she going yellow again? Has she had her nappy changed recently……..? I don’t think we slept. I certainly didn’t, listening to her tiny breaths and funny noises coming from the snuzpod beside me that had sat empty for a month beforehand in preparation.
WEEK TWO – VISITORS AND A WEEK OF FIRSTS
In our second week, the visitors started arriving thick and fast! At one point we were having to schedule ‘slots’ in our diaries to fit everyone in. I was absolutely overwhelmed by all the cards and presents. We had gifts from people we’ve never met – knitted handmade clothes and toys from friends of the family and every day my phone was flooded with texts asking how we were getting on. Honestly, this time has shown me how many amazing people we have in our lives, Violet will be spoiled for life with this bunch!
I feel like this week went by in a blur. The constant stream of visitors kept us busy, so every moment we had we would be feeding, sleeping or doing the constant stream of laundry that was now being created (how does someone so small create so much!). I realised that I hadn’t been outside the house since before I had Violet, so we went for our first walk, trying out Violet’s Cosatto Giggle 2 (how amazingly cute is it!) – however it was a total disaster, the wind was howling and she screamed from start to finish, not quite the relaxing family walk I had in mind, but surely one we will remember!
We also gave Violet her first bath – which she hated too! I think the neighbours probably thought we were torturing her from the fuss she kicked up.
At the end of her second week, she’d grown so much – going from 6lb 2oz at her birth to 6lb 13oz. She cluster fed for a day (I literally fed her from 8am – midnight) and she put on 6oz in a day – madness. She was starting to lose her newborn squished features and starting to look more alert all the time.
WEEK THREE: SETTLING INTO FAMILY LIFE
On our third week as a family, Vee went back to work, leaving me for my first day with Violet all on my own. As if I was nervous enough, I cracked a tooth the night before, so had to face two fears in one day – caring for a newborn on my own and visiting the emergency dentist – joy! This week made me realise how much really goes into looking after a baby, I didn’t stop for two moments as I got used to doing everything for the baby plus housework, cooking and general things like eating and showering etc. The ‘night shifts’ were particularly hard, I had got used to Vee making me tea and crumpets at 3am, suddenly feeding for 2-3 hours on my own during the middle of the night seemed pretty tough and lonely too – thank goodness for Youtube videos and other new mums on Twitter to keep me company.
We’d been trying to include Robbie as much as possible, however as I didn’t have a moment to myself, I couldn’t really offer Robbie the care and attention he was used to and he started to get pretty upset, sulking and attention seeking all day whilst I did endless cluster feeds on the sofa. We had to organise for his dog walker to take him out lots as he just wasn’t a happy bunny at home, his world had gone out of kilter and it was pretty hard on him. I felt so sad but hoped the extra walks helped, as well as giving him love when I could and extra treats too.
WEEK FOUR: PLAYTIME
On our fourth week, as if by magic overnight suddenly Violet learned how to give eye contact and started to notice things around her surroundings. The first time I noticed it, I was rocking her in my arms in our living room and realised she was turning her head to focus on the light fittings. I walked away slightly and watched her eyes follow the light, eventually turning her head to keep her gaze locked on those fascinating lights. She then started to watch our faces intently, pulling faces back and reacting to smiles. It was amazing to finally feel like we are communicating with our little bundle, watching her taking it all in and showing more of a reaction. By the end of the first week, I caught her first smile too!
Suddenly her play mats seemed so much more fun for Violet – She’s enjoyed looking at the toys on her playgym and we started tummy time using her cute brightly coloured SayHello Tummy Time Mat. She’s really good at holding her head up for a few seconds and has strong legs that can push her whole body forward. I don’t think it’ll be long until she’s rolling over too.
Feeding: 90% breastfed – She was given formula in hospital for jaundice, so we occasionally offer a formula top-up if particularly restless. Cluster feeding like mad – loves to eat!
Weight: 6lbs 2oz at birth – 7lbs 13oz by the end of week 4
Sleeping: Better than I expected, although her routine is still tough! She does suffer with colic and I think silent reflux, so she has ‘witching hour(s)’ between 9pm-midnight. Usually we can get her to sleep in blocks of 3-4 hours though, which is more than I thought. We do have bad nights sometimes.
Skills: Eye contact, Smiling, Holding head up for short periods of time
Favourite things: Milk, being walked around her nursery, looking at the traffic through the window, baby sensory videos on Youtube, Ewan the Sheep, her sleepyhead.
Hated things: Being naked, getting dressed, bathtime, walks in the pram, her bouncy chair, waiting for food