The first couple of weeks with a 36-weeker are different from a 41-weeker (Natalie). Between Andrew being our second child and him being a pre-term baby, our experience feels different.
First off, heâ€™s generally more sleepy. We have to wake him up for most feedings (except at night â€“ usual day/night switching for a newborn). This results in him being less efficient with feeding in general. Fortunately, he has latched on without a problem but he falls asleep sooo easily. Weâ€™ve been concerned about him getting enough milk and his weight gain. At his 2 week checkup, he was still below his birth weightâ€¦.so now Iâ€™m pumping after every other feeding and also supplementing him with that pumped milk. This is both to get him more milk and to also ensure my milk supply doesnâ€™t die as a result of him possibly being less efficient. I also recently started taking fenugreek to help out (with Natalie, I didnâ€™t even bother with fenugreek until I went back to work!) I was first concerned about pumping so much because, in my mind, pumping early results in oversupplyâ€¦but at this point, with his lack of weight gain and concern about that affecting my supply, Iâ€™m happy to pump. Still, Iâ€™m not a huge fan of pumping. Wasnâ€™t thinking Iâ€™d be doing it so much so earlyâ€¦but at least heâ€™s getting breastmilk. In his first week, we had to supplement with formula since he was pre-term to keep up his weight..but we stopped that pretty much after my milk really came in.
The other thing we had to deal with was jaundice — not surprising for a preterm baby but nonetheless, a new thing for us as Natalie was never jaundiced. When we left the hospital on day 2, his bilirubin levels were still great (about a 9) but by the time we saw the pediatrician the next day, they had jumped up to a 17 (eeks!). Treatment plan = phototherapy! This is basically a tanning bed for a newborn. Fortunately for us, his levels were low enough that home phototherapy was an option, rather than spending nights at Childrenâ€™s Hospital. So, for the next week, we had the services of In-Home Phototherapy where a nurse came everyday to weigh him, take his blood (darn heel pricks are no fun), check his temperature and ask about feedings and wet/poopy diapers. At first, his levels started going downâ€”when they hit 12, they took the lights away..but that only lasted 48 hours before his levels went back up to a 17, so back onto the lights. This time, they kept him on until they were down to a 9. All in all, we had to do the phototherapy for a good week. Good thing heâ€™s generally sleepy as we couldnâ€™t really swaddle him or anything. Also good thing we hit a hot streak in Seattle, so it was fine having him be unclothed for a whole week too!
Other than that, we can already see improvements in him â€“ like being more alert, latching on better, getting less jaundiced and (we hope) feeding more. We have another weight check for him on Monday â€“ crossing fingers that heâ€™s gained weight!
Despite all that, things do seem easier with Andrew than they were with Natalie. I just remember the first week or two being such a blur with Natalieâ€¦.and that nights were just awful. I remember with her newborn pro photos taken at one week, I could barely consider putting makeup on or changing out of my nursing tank top..and that Matt was super cranky. But this time with Andrew, we had the photographer come out when he was 4 days oldâ€”I had no problems changing and â€œputting on my faceâ€â€¦and Matt was in a great mood. Maybe this second time around we are just less stressed with things?
Natalieâ€™s been a sweet sister to Andrew. She loves telling visitors â€œcome see my baby brother!â€â€¦and when she sees him, she says â€œawwww, heâ€™s so boo-ti-fulâ€. Anytime he cries, she likes to find a pacifier to give it to himâ€¦and of course, she loves giving him kisses on the head. She enjoys any opportunity to hold him, but wants to be careful with hurting him, so if he starts crying while she holds him, she says â€œbaby wants to get out. Iâ€™m all done!â€
My parents are here helping out til the end of the month which is SO helpful. Itâ€™ll be an interesting challenge when they leave, particularly if one of us has to be on our own with both kids.