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.