Sorry I couldn’t be bothered to come up with a more fun title. Monster Hospital by Metric came into my head, but the hospital was great (well from what I remembered when I wasn’t sleep deprived). I Miss Your Bones by Hospitality also came to mind…
Well, because the diary with notes (in between [ ]s) format seemed to work alright for my birth story I thought I’d do the same for my hospital stay, though I was a bit tired so it’s very patchy and short. Since then I have stopped writing in my diary as I can’t be bothered, but I did buy a 5 year line a day diary. It’s actually 5ish lines, but once I get writing it’s not enough.
It’s weird how quickly the memories start to fade, but also because I was in hospital for 4 nights not doing much and not really sleeping, it felt like one long day to me.
My days did basically consist of trying to breastfeed, expressing, feeding B, trying to sleep, changing nappies, crying, talking to my husband, washing my stitches, replying to messages in the middle of the night as that was when I felt in the mood and yeah not much else. My daily highlight was ordering what I was going to eat for lunch and dinner (and eating), which was mainly butternut squash curry. Highly recommended if you ever find yourself at Liverpool Women’s Hospital!
On with the story…
Diary entry 2 days after the birth at 11:11am called ‘First full day’.
Didn’t sleep much. Can’t really recall the night. Just a lot of trying to breastfeed.
[I was initially kept in hospital as B was struggling to latch on for breastfeeding. I think because of Covid they are hesitant to discharge women who are struggling to feed as there is less 1 to 1 help available.]
Being told to set an alarm for 2 to 3 hours to breastfeed. Slept for an hour and a bit at most.
Thought she would need more feeding so didn’t want to sleep but she just kept sleeping.
Been getting the hang of hand expressing at least.
Toast and jam for breakfast.
Waited for the [breastfeeding support] lady for hours. Was waiting for her to try feeding so didn’t sleep. She was good when she came though.
Then B slept a bit. I had a 10 min nap. I thought it had been an hour…
Video called Nan and [younger sister] briefly.
Planned to nap but had a shower then dinner came.
Shift changed. They said they will monitor the feeding hourly. I need to sleep. She has been asleep for an hour now. I’m sat on my stitches. They changed the room around and have got me to sit on a chair instead.
Changed 2 pooey nappies today by myself. So proud. [I was super nervous about changing a nappy for the first time. I asked people to show me at least a few times before I did it myself…]
Yeah my day is just sitting around and trying to breastfeed. [And taking pictures of B and selfies].
Called Tiago a few times. He has been tidying the flat, food shopping and cooking.
Can’t be bothered to reply to so many messages. Will do tomorrow.
[Well, that was gripping wasn’t it?]
Diary entry 3 days after birth at 4.37pm called ‘Yesterday and today’.
Didn’t write yesterday. I probably won’t be able to remember everything.
Plans changed. Tried to get into a good routine of trying to breastfeed, hand express, sleep and repeat.
Then she got tested for jaundice and she had to start photo therapy. She hated the machine. Crying so loud etc. Had to take all her clothes off which she hates. Then I couldn’t comfort her etc.
I cried in front of someone who was sent to do checks on her.
My milk came in so I started to use the big express machine.
[I called it The Beast. I could have used it for expressing colostrum, but I only found out once a saw another woman who had been in the hospital for a day. (You don’t produce much colostrum so with at home machines most of it will just get stuck in the parts rather than make it into the bottle).]
Breastfeeding still wasn’t happening. Got so tired. Students fed her from the bottle whilst I slept. [The breastfeeding support service] suggested giving her a bit of expressed milk first, then breastfeeding then expressing. I don’t know.
I cried in front of someone else. B had a jaundice test at 10pm. It came back as below therapy level. It was repeated at 6am. She was taken out of the machine.
It needs to be repeated later.
I feel a bit abandoned.
I see people come and go. I hear people being checked on. No one has checked on me today. [I am guessing they assumed I was fine as I had been there for ‘so long’ and a lot of new women were coming onto the ward, so they needed to be sorted out which is fair enough.]
I don’t feel confident. I need a new plan of action [for feeding]. I feel awkward calling someone. A woman is say 2m from me and she can’t hear me crying. I just want her to turn around and check on me. Need to eat. Need to prep to feed.
Stitches hurt. No one asks me if I want pain relief.
[I thought about pressing my call button a few times, but I just felt awkward/uncomfortable pressing it. Occasionally I did press it, but then cancelled my request. I did also have times where I just didn’t care and pressed it a lot though.]
Diary entry on same day at 8.17pm called ‘Today part 2’.
Had an hour-ish nap. Cried again. Ate dinner whilst crying on the phone to Tiago. [So awkward, was trying to be quiet about it but I needed to talk to someone and get all the previous entry’s stuff off my chest.]
A woman called Cheryl came to weigh B. She said she had come when I was asleep so came back later. I said she should have woken me.
When she came back [after going to get her equipment] I said I wasn’t trying to be rude.
[I think I came across as quite aggressive as I had felt so abandoned and I spent a lot of time waiting for people to come to see me about things. Typically the one time I slept was the one time I missed someone.]
We talked about everything whilst I expressed. She said she would help me with breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
B’s weight loss was 4 percent. 10 percent is bad so it’s great.
Expressed alright. Breastfed her well for 10 mins. Put her on the bottle for 20ml.
Feeling so much happier. Expressed my right boob for 20ml more as it started to leak and I love expressing ha. [I got really obsessed with how many millilitres I was producing and expressing made me feel like one day I would be alright with breastfeeding.]
Should nap now. I have an hour-ish before I have to think about it all again.
Yesterday I discovered the nursery across the corridor. I love washing the top of the pump and getting supplies.
[I didn’t wander away from the ward except for going into this room which had a fridge, a sink and breastfeeding supplies. It was was my little escape where I washed the pump parts, got more bottles, and cotton wool. It gave me something to do and I got really into it. I also had my set-up for nappy changing – tub for cotton wool, tub of water and tub for dirty/used stuff. When I got home I was stressed out until I set up something similar.]
B’s eyes got swabbed. [She had gunky eyes which is common with newborns. The gunk was sent off for testing. She still has gunk and the GP recommended doing tear duct massages where you rub the side of the nose.]
Feeling more confident with handling her now. [I really was scared to pick her up for a while, and worried about how well I was supporting her neck/head.’
Still can’t believe I have a baby. Can’t wait to see Tiago with her.
Love him so much. Can’t believe we’ve been apart for so long. I feel like my world is this room. [We had been together for the whole of lockdown and this was the longest we’d been apart, I also felt bad that he was missing out on B’s early days.]
Need to sleep. Want to chat to people but need to rest.
Diary entry on 4 days after giving birth called ‘Home Day’, but I did not write anything.
[I’m guessing I planned to but just didn’t get round to it. Will fill in the gap by reading messages that I sent Tiago. (This section ended up being the longest – I should probably go through and add in more information for the other sections, but this post is long enough and I’ve spent enough time writing it).
So at 3am I said ‘Jaundice score only went up a few points in 12 hours. And since then she has been feeding more. Midwife is just plotting it on a chart to see if we can go home today.’
Then 20 minutes later I added ‘So B needs to have a test. Will be sent with a courier at 6 and should get results by 9. Either way we are going home today. If the test results are ‘bad’ then we get sent home with folic acid that we need to give B.’ I love that I was getting told this info at 3am, but I guess they only told me as I was awake. In the end B didn’t need folic acid.
At 4.30am I could hear a man outside yelling Karen or something. No idea… Sadly he wasn’t outside our window as that would have been far too interesting/entertaining.
A lot of our conversations evolved around ordering stuff that we thought we needed. A room thermometer, a body thermometer, nipple compresses, anything and everything.
At 10am a woman came round who gave the usual discharge spiel – do 10 sets of kegels 10 times a day (I texted Tiago to remind me, though I just do them when I remember about them), use contraception as you are super fertile (hearing a woman opposite saying she had a 10 month old was enough for me to listen) etc.
I told Tiago not to rush to get out the door as I knew discharge would be slow and I was finally talking to some women on my ward. One wouldn’t order any lunch, so I told the staff on duty whilst she was in the bathroom and they arranged some food for her. [I wasn’t trying to snitch on her, she wanted to eat but wasn’t sure about hospital food and I knew another day of her just eating crisps wouldn’t help her heal.]
It was weird how I went from feeling super scared about being around strangers after 3 months at home due to lockdown, to kind of forgetting about the pandemic and just wanting to talk to everyone. Everyday different women were helping me with breastfeeding, so I was being very close to people (they were touching my boobs in order to help me). I had forgotten how social I could be and I think motherhood was already changing me for the better, though obviously I had had some wobbly moments which was mainly down to lack of sleep.
At 1.15pm I said discharge was happening soon. I was going through my routine (expressing, feeding, changing nappy etc) in order to not ‘f up my progress’ and asked Tiago to bring my sunglasses as I hadn’t been outside in a while (my eyes are quite sensitive as it is).
Tiago arrived at 2.30pm. I rang my call button and a woman arrived to take us down to reception. There was more security than when we first came to the hospital on the first day and Tiago had to wait outside the building. I walked through to get him and said to the security guard ‘that’s my husband’ whilst pointing to Tiago and he was allowed in with the car seat with his mask on. We put her in the car seat and went to leave, then I remembered we had to sort out the parking so I ran to do that and then we left. I thought we might have to sign out or something so we went to the desk where Tiago had had to use hand sanitiser. They asked us where we were going. I said ‘home’ and they laughed as they thought we were just arriving at the hospital.
It was surreal to see Tiago again. I had been living in some weird universe where I was a Mum, in a hospital, surrounded by strangers and without the one constant person in my life. I hadn’t felt lonely though as I had B to focus on.
On my way out of the hospital I saw the Princess Diana bust that I had walked past when I first arrived. When I was younger I was told that I looked like her a lot (I had short hair for a bit which was when the comments were at their peak) and seeing that she had opened the hospital gave me some kind of comfort. It made me smile and I took a picture to remember it.
It was weird to be in the car during daylight – since lockdown I had only been in the car once, which was on the way to hospital at 2.30 in the morning.
We got home and after feeling in hospital that I couldn’t remember what the flat looked like, I quickly adjusted to being back it was the first time we had had a baby in there.
Though I never planned to be in hospital initially (I wanted a homebirth) and my visit was nothing like I thought a trip might be, I think it was the best thing that happened to me. I had no recent experience with a newborn and was nervous about everything. Being there for 4 nights with no visitors I just learned as much as I could and came home confident with handling, nappy changing, expressing, bottle feeding and breastfeeding. I was then able to teach what I had learned to Tiago. I think if I had had a homebirth and been able to stay at home, early parenthood would have been a lot more stressful. My hospital stay was up and down, but I wouldn’t have changed anything.
Thanks again to everyone at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Bambis (babies and mums breastfeeding information and support) for their care and help during our stay.]
(Turns out that I like to use the word whilst and that it is ‘largely outdated’ – never realised I that I use it so much.)
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or via a social media message.
At some point I plan to write more about feeding as it is still a cause of stress (for me anyways). I feel like everyday brings a new combination of breastfeeding and bottle feeding (expressed milk). I guess it is just doing what works for us each day.
Thanks for reading, and please share it with anyone who might find it helpful 🙂