Casey’s First Week – A Retrospective

We’ve been home from the hospital since Monday afternoon, and are slowly finding our day-to-day groove. It’s challenging, but not as difficult as I built it up to be in the months/weeks leading up to Casey’s birth.

I’m happy to report that despite a bit of jaundice that we’ve been told should clear up in the next week or so, Casey is doing great. He’s already passed his birth weight (for the non-parents in the crowd, babies — particularly breastfed babies — tend to lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first few days of life, and it can take 2 weeks for them to regain it).

Maggie’s also recovering perfectly. She’s still a bit slower moving than normal, and not back on the yoga mat yet, but improving every day. She’s also taking to motherhood amazingly — it’s a whole side of my wife I have never seen before and I’m loving it.

We stayed in the hospital for the entire allotted 6 days, with me only popping home once to drop off a few things and grab a car seat from our friends (thanks R&G!).

It’s funny that nearly a week sleeping on a bit-too-short/bit-too-lumpy sofa hasn’t left a stronger impression on me, but the whole time in the hospital is a complete blur. In the beginning I wasn’t eager to spend so much time there, but looking back on it I couldn’t be more appreciative of it. The stay gave Maggie and I a chance to get our heads around this whole “caring for another life” thing with the support of a handful of doctors, a mid-wife and a small army of nurses.

For posterity’s sake, here are a few of the more memorable moments:

The Birth of Our Son

Sort of a no-brainer that this would be the biggest memory of the week. I touched on it last post, but spending those first few moments of my son’s life, just the two of us in a room together, is a memory I’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Doodie Duty

With Maggie bed-bound, everything but feeding Casey fell on me, and I loved it. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but spending 144 hours in a small room is a bit boring. Having lots to do helped that time fly by. I had been warned about the meconium poops months ago by a friend, but nothing can really prepare you for that sticky tar-like goo.

Being quite hands on right from the get go helped with a concern I had about feeling a bit left out. I mean, Maggie had carried Casey for 9 months and was his sole source of much-needed sustenance — I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have a place in that. It might have been the messy end of the stick, but it really made me feel a part of it all, and poo on the hand is much easier to cope with than chapped nipples.

The Dark Crystals

It is perhaps indicative that the following is the longest memory of the bunch — but despite word-weight, rest assured that these memories are in descending order.

Late in the 2nd day Casey still hadn’t peed, which is not all that uncommon for breastfed babies who are really only consuming colostrum for the first few days before the transitional milk comes in. When he finally did let it out he had dark orange (brick-coloured) crystals in his diaper.

Informing the nurses and doctor about this set into motion a rather goofy string of antics that involved putting a poorly-designed urine capture device over my boy’s baby junk in hopes of catching enough to send to the lab. Because colostrum is a laxative, and contains very little liquid, he was pooping a lot more than peeing at this point, and every time I’d go to change his diaper, what little pee had collected would quickly dump out. After three attempts over a 24-hour period, I calmly explained to the nurse attempting to affix the thing for the fourth time that this just wasn’t working and we needed a better solution.

Apparently parents aren’t meant to raise questions about the care their child is receiving, as the nurse left quickly and sent in the senior nurse on duty, who did nothing to listen to our complaints of the adhesive annoying our newborn, and the spilled urine creating a risk of skin irritation. She insisted that we needed to do this because we had to collect his urine and make sure the stuff wasn’t blood.

I approach saying what I’m about to say next with a bit of apprehension, as I don’t want to be one of those people, but a quick search of the Internet explained that the orange substance was simply urate crystals and nothing to be overly concerned about as they would likely clear out as soon as the baby started getting on a more liquid diet.

Now I’m not saying the nurses and doctor weren’t aware of this, but they certainly did nothing to illustrate this or even hint at the possibility to Maggie and I. Rather, they continued to scare us with exclamations of the possibility that it was blood in the urine (it looked nothing like blood).

Their out-of-the-box suggestion to my foot-down refusal to stick another plastic bag to Casey’s bits was to give us a small plastic cup. Their idea was to have us strip him down and wait until he spout like a fountain and then attempt to catch it — remember, he was relieving himself at most twice a day at this point.

Finally a nurse came in and suggested we do what we’d seen a thousand Chinese parents on the street do with their kid — the bathroom equivalent of holding him over the curb. Not wanting to ostracize ourselves any further with our primary caregivers, we took him into the bathroom and held him over the sink — careful to relocate the toothbrushes (just in case). With me holding Casey’s legs up against his chest and us joking that this was never going to work, we were taken by surprise when suddenly piss was going everywhere. Doubled over with laughter at the waterworks, Maggie scrambled to grab and fill the little plastic cup before the well ran dry. Seeing opportunity to add additional humour to the moment, Casey chose to complete the set and seal the memory with an explosive Number Two all over the sink.

But we got the goods — test performed — urate crystals. A bit of patience and a tiny bit of water with each feeding and it was cleared up 24 hours later.

There were so many more little memories of those first days that combine to create the experience in my mind, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to figure a way to string them together into sentences. An endless stream of small moments that when I look at individually couldn’t possibly be considered amazing to anyone other than myself and Maggie. But then, I guess that’s what parenthood is, being in a continual state of absolute amazement at the incredible wonder that is by definition a completely average and basic action. I look at Casey and am just blown away by him; by every little move he makes, look he gives — and then I realize that every parent must feel this way when they look at their kid — I had no idea.

18 Responses

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Casey’s First Week – A Retrospective | A China Blog on Suzhou Expat Life --

    •, nor its affiliates, cannot in anyway be held liable for talks or acts of pregnancy that its content may bring about. 😉

  2. You know what? Since I became a mother I love reading stories of (baby) pees and poos, of childbirth and sore nipples, so keep them coming! If your stories have also so many wonderful pictures and a video, who would complain?

    Congrats again

    • Oh no… Don’t get me started on sore nipples. My wife almost screamed after the first 2 days. And she’s no crybaby. Her friend described if well: breastfeeding is even worse than teh actual birth, because the pain goes on for many weeks.

  3. My first hand experience the last 3 months has been that the first few weeks go by fast. You spend a lot of time being worried about numerous small things that turn out well in the end. Meanwhile you learn a bunch of new stuff and adjust your daily life to the kid. Very cool and rewarding time indeed.

    Then gradually after you get a daily rutine it happens (and you never see this coming). Your energy storages that kept you up for a while are slowly depleted and you get wasted pretty fast. You may have days where you wake up fresh and fit, but around dinnertime you are completely drained and zombielike. Still happy, but just dead tired. Personally I am inexplainably worn the whole day, but still can’t sleep more than usually. I sleep badly getting woken up many times each night and often my golden hour (the last hour before you have to get up) often is spoiled by a kid wont sleep anymore or needs either food or a new diaper. Event though my wife is sweet and do both choirs (since I have to work and she can nap later if possible), I still sleep like crap. Moving to another room for work nights helps the sleeping a bit (still hear the baby), but wreaks my back… A lose – lose situation.

    Might just be me, but I have a feeling that its the same for most parents.

    Let me just add: I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but damn I’m tired all the time.

    • Cheers Peter — thanks for the insight. Mags and I are in much the same boat with me sleeping in another room for now so that I can be sure to get a solid night’s sleep. We’re still working out the details — and her mom is here now helping, but generally, I handle all the duties (doodies) between 5-6 to midnight and she takes care of most everything else. I’m sure much of that will change when the little guy gets on solid foods and we get a little more organized, but I agree — loving every tiring minute of it.

  4. Hello. Congrat’s on your new baby! Which hospital/s did Maggie go to for checkups and such during pregnancy? Thanks if you could give some recommendations.

    –a random clueless foreigner in Suzhou, having baby thoughts.

    • Hi Lu,

      I’ll be posting soon on the hospitals and costs involved, as I know how difficult it was to find that information out when we were starting to consider having a baby.

      Interim, we used Kowloon (九龙医院) in SIP-Hu Xi exclusively. They have a VIP service that a lot of foreigners use because the doctors and nurses speak (or can at least stumble though) English. We didn’t need this, as my wife is Chinese, but we wanted to use it because the VIP area is a lot less stressful than the standard service — plus you don’t have to take a number for ultrasounds — something that saved us many many hours of sitting and waiting.

      Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. I reached out to a lot of people when we were testing the waters, and I’m happy to return the favour.

  5. Pingback: China, might be time to let the DPRK slide into the DARK | Lost Laowai China Blog

  6. Watching the video or your new baby reminded me of my son’s birth more than thirty years ago from a previous life.

    Our daughter, who is eighteen, is graduating from high school this year and on her way to Stanford. My wife is also Chinese. She was born in Shanghai in the 1950s and lived through the Cultural Revolution under Mao (even spent a few years in one of the labor camps)–didn’t come to the states until near the end of the 80s.

    I’m far to serious in my Blog about China, so I’ll be back to read more of your words, because I find that you handle serious topics in a lighthearted way. Tom Carter mentioned that I should ask you to link to my Blog. That’s up to you. I’ve already added your Blogs to my Blogroll.

  7. Congrats, he looks great. My wife and I are right on your heels, due date in August. I’ve had a lot of experience caring for babies but I know this is gonna kick my ass. We’re both excited, though, and I’m ready for my life to take on new meaning. When the baby has gas, put some powder on the little guy’s ass and see if he makes the powder puff cloud like the baby on YouTube haha.

  8. Well Charrie and I want to send out our congrats to you guys on your new born. You will have so much fun watching him grow up. But do yourselves a favour and don’t let him grow up too fast. Wishing you all the best in your new found journey into parenthood. Looking forward to meeting your little guy one day (and um Ryan I don’t meen that little guy again that was a long time ago that I met him and still trying to get him out of my memory lol jk)

  9. Wow. Great write up and great video and great photos.
    Congrats on the new baby. Seems like you were in a hotel room. DANG! Not exactly what we had… that’s for sure.

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