Baby

24 Hours After Birth

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This is my experience in the first 24 hours after the birth of my third child, Sebastian. Most of it was written at the time and in the weeks afterwards, but I’m just publishing it now.

This is the part of childbearing I remember most strongly. That first hour after birth, wrapped up in warm blankets, skin to skin. Not quite believing that labour is over with. Feeling physically raw, ignoring the stinging pain and deep exhaustion. Filled with intense relief and fuzzy hormones.

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I could have fallen asleep right there, once I finally stopped shivering, except that we weren’t in our actual hospital room and I was still covered in several different types of body fluid. So after an hour or so I handed the baby over to his daddy and dragged myself off the bed and into the shower, which was still nice even though I had left my toiletries in another bag in the car. The physical feeling in your stomach post birth is bizarre. It looks all floppy and squishy but feels like all your insides are being dragged downwards (probably because the stomach muscles are so stretched that they actually can’t hold your organs in their usual spot). It feels kind of sloshy, like when you drink loads of water or swallow too much ocean when you go to the beach. You can’t quite breathe when you stand upright.

Husband told me my sister was going to come by after work so I told her to bring me something from McDonald’s because I was staaarving. I had missed lunch and hospital dinner wasn’t going to be particularly satisfying. We moved back to the birth suite once I was dressed, and husband dropped off my other bags before going to pick up our other boys.


  
I’d like to pause a moment and thank my hair, for staying up and relatively tidy for 10+ hours including labour and a shower. (I know it’s still messy but compared to my other post-birth photos it looks awesome). This is 4 or 5 hours after Seb was born. I’m still on the hormone-induced high, obviously.


Check out the hair. A friend of mine said its my hair on my husband’s face in baby form.



So squishy. He was still so new at this point – skin softer than anything, perfect and velvety, with that slightly metallic scent. No new-baby smell yet, not until the milk comes in. Still the smell of a freshly-birthed baby. Still a bit slimy, to be honest. Probably conked out here after a long feed that was 10% colostrum and 90% munching on mummy’s boobs for 40 minutes.

My sister visited with one of her friends, who I’ve known for almost two years and is basically my adopted younger sister as well. Being hipsters, they did this:

My mother-in-law came by and then helped husband unload our other two kids and bring them into the hospital. I’ve read a few bits of advice on how to introduce toddlers to their new sibling, usually involving some carefully constructed scenario where the baby isn’t in your arms when the other kids walk in and you don’t hold it when they leave, either, so they don’t feel like they have to go but the new baby gets to stay. Honestly, neither of my kids seem to care much when I introduced their younger brother(s for Darcy, my eldest). Darcy was too young to care when Ronan was born. This time he understood that it was a baby, and said how “wittle and coot!” he was. Ronan just climbed on and off the bed and rolled the crib around and found stuff to destroy.


This pretty much sums things up. Me, holding the baby; Darcy wanting to “hug him because he so wittle and soft! He got wittle hands! Aww!”; and Ronan jumping around on the furniture ignoring everyone.

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You can kind of see the insane exhaustion hiding behind the smile here. Also I still have a massive needle sticking into my hand, covered by a stocking to protect it. I asked the midwife to remove it before my kids came in because I just *knew* they would probably bump it or try to pull it out or something.

My husband and his mum took the kids home after a short time, and his mum made him give me a kiss before he left. I remember because we haven’t kissed since (now 5 weeks later). It’s kind of depressing but kind of meh I don’t really mind because I don’t think we’ve had time for a conversation, either. Three kids is a whole other ball game, folks.

I woke Seb up for a feed around 9pm, since it had been a couple hours since his last one. He refused to wake up and just curled himself up and went back to sleep, until he pooped (yay meconium!) and then fed over the next hour or so, on and off, while I checked Facebook and started writing down the birth story while it was fresh in my mind.

I stayed up ridiculously late doing nothing on my phone, until 11pm or something stupid, and then put on an eye mask and squeezed in a few hours’ sleep. I find it really hard to sleep in foreign environments, though the ward was fairly quiet this time around. Having a sleep mask to block out the light really helped, too. I think he woke up again around 1:30am or so and then fed a lot in typical newborn fashion, going back and forth from one side to the other trying to bring the milk in and also clear his digestive system.

I called a midwife in so they could record his feeding time and asked for a heat pack to help with the after pains. They are my least favourite post natal symptom, ever. You think the labour is over with and you don’t have to deal with any more pain, and then while you’re sitting there trying to breastfeed, you get an excruciating contraction lasting over a minute. And because you’re not in labour, nobody’s there holding your hand. You just have to deal with it. And take Panadol and anti-inflammatories when the midwife offers them. I had to eat something when I took the prescription, so a very lovely midwife brought in a pack of sandwiches and cooed over the baby. She told me he was delicious and looked like a gumnut baby. It’s funny how proud this makes you as a mother even when it’s 3am and you’re zonked out and so tired your eyeballs are about to fall out.

Seb was a bit restless for the rest of the night, but I got another few hours of sleep in the early morning. Breakfast was brought around at 8am and I was grateful because I was starving but also a bit mad because it woke me up and that meant I had actually been asleep. Not just dozing, asleep. And that doesn’t happen very often with a newborn.

The next midwife came in, looked over my chart, asked some standard questions and talked about breastfeeding/postnatal appointments/health checks etc, and then asked if I wanted to go home that day and I immediately said YESSSS! I was already dreading the thought of spending the second night there – in my experience, babies are usually more unsettled the second night, because they get to work trying to bring the milk in and feed all. The. Time. And I’d much rather deal with that at home in my own bed without people disturbing me at ungodly hours like 8 o’clock in the morning.

I had a shower and texted husband to let him know I would be going home sooner than we had planned. The pediatrician showed up to give baby Seb his newborn health check, looking at his reflexes and so on. She had a med student with her and explained everything to the student as they did the checks, which was interesting for me to hear. Everything was pretty standard except for his right hand – he has a transverse crease on his palm, which just means the crease goes all the way across.

When I had my first child, our midwife took photos of us giving him his first bath. This time, my baby had a quick wash in between being measured and me getting ready to pack up and leave. He did enjoy it, though – my first baby to not scream the entire bath time. He’s also my first baby to not cry during nappy changes. He’s a pretty chilled out kid, to be honest.



Me looking all bright-eyed because the sleep deprivation hadn’t kicked in yet (or that feeling you get on day 3 after giving birth when it’s like you got hit by a mother lovin truck). Plus I put tinted lip balm on, and lip colour makes you look 500 times more alive.

Husband brought the kids up and left them with me while he carried my bags to the car. {I tried so hard not to overpack but I didn’t count on going home 20 hours after having the baby}. Darcy and Ronan were, in typical fashion, noisy and destructive. I got some cute photos and then spent the rest of the time trying to get them to be quiet and stop touching everything.


  

They pretty much sat on the baby at one point and he stayed asleep. All the eye-poking in the world can’t wake this kid up.

We buckled Seb into his capsule and my husband and I both started laughing at how small he was. Newborns are so tiny, it’s insane. Then we started walking back to the car, which was probably a three-minute journey but felt so much longer with three kids. As parents, you’re outnumbered. You can’t take one each anymore. And you can’t have one in each hand, either. But despite that we managed to get all three of them into the car relatively unscathed. As we got into a lift in the car park a lady asked how old the baby was. “About 20 hours,” I told her, not quite believing what I was saying.

I was incredibly glad to be home, so much more relaxing than a hospital environment. I unpacked my bags as soon as we got home, because I knew if I didn’t do it then they would just sit there for months. And then I put on something comfy and went to bed to soak in the hazy, squidgey newborn vibes.


  

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