The first few days after delivery was not exactly what I had imagined it to be. Don't get me wrong, there were tons of wonderful moments... but we had some scares too. Its so easy to forget the great things that happened those days, so I want to make sure I talk about them first.
Well first of all, it was 100% love at first sight. The emotions and pride to meet your child is indescribable. His very cute little cry (almost sounded like a puppy dog) and his little cute sneeze had everyone laughing in the first day or two. I could not believe how fast he changed in the first 24 hours, it seems like every time the nurses brought him back in to me he had changed a little bit. My favorite moments while in the hospital were the skin to skin time. I would take Ryan's onesie off and place him on my chest and we would just lay there and snuggle for as long as I could. I will never forget that feeling.
Secondly, the staff at the hospital was AMAZING from start to finish. The nurses from labor, my personal nurses, and Ryan's nursery nurses were all so wonderful and helpful. As I already stated, I was very lucky to have the doctor I wanted deliver Ryan. Also, my second favorite Dr was the one to do all of my checkups and Ryan's circumcision. We also had to deal with many other doctors (I will explain in a minute) and each one of them was so kind, understanding, and helpful. I am lucky that we had such a great experience in the hospital.
Most importantly, I was pleasantly surprised at how Mike was instantly an awesome father. For someone who did not have much experience with children, he was just unbelievable. Every day, he continues to surprise me with his love and dedication to Ryan and myself. I could not ask for a better husband and father to my child.
Since we didn't know if we were having a girl or a boy, it took us a while to get use to saying his name. In the meantime, he developed several different nicknames. Ryan, RJ, Ry Guy, RyDogg, and Kermie (for some reason I thought he looked like Baby Kermit so I started calling him Kermie). Who knows what nicknames will last.
The Rough Stuff
I didn't really notice anything wrong or strange the first day at the hospital. Ryan was struggling to breastfeed, but we were working on it. I didn't really think anything of it. So all the issues started on Friday morning when the pediatrician came to see us. Dr. Intili told us that he checked out RJ and he had a few concerns. First he still did not have his first bowel movement and he had not eaten anything really since birth. Also, he noticed a heart mur mur that he was concerned about. Dr. Intili had decided that he was calling the Pediatric Cardiologist and the NICU doctor for some second opinions. If Ryan did not start eating we would have to supplement with formula and if he did not poop it would leave him concerned that there was something else wrong. So we had to spend the day seeing doctors and observing. I was really not happy about the idea of feeding Ryan formula, I am really determined to exclusively breastfeeding. But after several more hours with no eating, I finally gave in and gave him some formula. I started pumping at that time too. My hope was I could at least feed him the breast milk with a bottle, and only use the formula if it was necessary.
Well the waiting for him to eat and poop continued. Ryan was barely eating anything, throwing up constantly, and showed no signs of a bowel movement. In the meantime, we met with the pediatric cardiologist. She confirmed that Ryan had a small hole in his heart. The doctor did a great job of explaining the condition to us and easing our concerns. She seemed confident that the hole was in a good location and would close up on its own in time. For right now there is nothing we can do, and we will bring him back for a follow up in two weeks.
Friday night came and went, and we still had no poop and still would not latch on to breastfeed. Thankfully the nurses were so wonderful and they continued to help me attempt to feed every few hours. On Saturday morning we were visited by the pediatrician again and he gave us the bad news that Ryan would not be coming home with us that afternoon when I was discharged. I was really heartbroken by this. I never imagined that I would be going home but my newborn baby would have to stay in the hospital. Mike and I were told we could stay at the hospital until 11:59 pm but then we had to go for insurance purposes. The doctors also explained to Mike and I that if he did not poop by the next morning we were going to have to take the next step. Ryan would have to be transferred to a children's specialized hospital NICU for testing. Just the idea of this was so scary.
At this point all of our friends and family started praying for poop! I was getting phone calls and texts all with the same question... "Any poop?" I would never have guessed poop would become such an important part of my hospital experience. Saturday came and went and there was no poop. Finally at about 8pm I decided to check again, and there it finally was, a little bit of poop!!! Yay!! A few hours later it was time for Mike and I to go home, but we were feeling encouraged. Hopefully we would return early Sunday morning and be able to take him home.
Sunday morning we got back to the hospital around 8am and had some time to visit with Ryan. We were still only feeding him bottled breast milk and formula because the doctors needed to be able to keep track of exactly how much he was eating. The doctor returned around 9 with bad news again. Even though Ryan did poop a little bit the night before, it was not enough to make him confident that everything was fine, but he was eating more so that was a good sign. Unfortunately, in this time his bilirubin numbers (jaundice) had spiked up to around a 12 which put him at the level of concern. So the decision for that day was that we did not need to transfer him to the new hospital BUT Ryan needed to stay at this hospital for another 24 hours to be put under the blue light (treat the jaundice). That meant Mike and I could come to the hospital every 3 hours to attempt to breastfeed but then he would go right back under the light. We were not able to sit and spend time with him. So Sunday became the day from Hell!
This is how our day went: we would go to the hospital and take Ryan into this side breastfeeding room. I would attempt to breastfeed while Mike got the other feeding supplies set up. Sometimes Ryan would successfully nurse for a few minutes, and others would be a fight. Then Mike would take Ryan and bottle feed him the breast milk and finish off with some formula, while I would pump for the next feeding. After all of this we would have to return Ry to the nurses and go home. By time we got home, we would have about an hour before we would leave for the hospital to repeat the whole thing.
Considering I had just gone through labor and was very very uncomfortable... this was a miserable experience. It hurt to walk and sit. I was very swollen. I had to pack a bag of all my personal hygiene items to bring with me anywhere we went. It just sucked. At about 5pm I started a mini emotional break down. I felt like crap and all I wanted was to be at home with my baby boy. Just walking past him in the blue light made me sob... my child should be cuddled up in my arms. Not stuck in a box under this crazy light. I just needed him to be home with me!
Luckily we had a positive visit that night. Ryan breastfeed successfully for the first time, he had a really good poop, and he peed all over the nurse. He seemed more alert and was doing all of the things babies are expected to do. So again, Mike and I went home that night feeling encouraged, hoping that the next morning we could bring him home.
Monday was our lucky day! We got to the hospital around 9am and he was just about to come out from under the light. We still had to wait til the doctor came in, but the nurses said he had a great night and they thought we would get to go home with us. Thank goodness they were right. Dr. Intili confirmed that his bilirubin went down and he was improving in all other categories. We could finally take Ryan Joseph home!
So in brief, we had to deal with not eating, not pooping, throwing up everything, a hole in his heart, jaundice, and 2 extra days in the hospital all within the first 4 days of Ryan's life. I feel very blessed and excited to finally have him home and to see major improvements. He is pooping like a champ, much more alert, not so yellow, and overall doing great. The breastfeeding is still a bit of a challenge, but its getting better every day. At this point I do not need to supplement with any bottle, breast milk or formula. We love him so very much and are excited to see what the next few weeks will bring us!