It seems almost impossible to believe that our little Charlotte Grace is already two weeks old!
In some ways it seems like she was just born, and in some ways it seems like she has already been with us for months!
I know I haven’t posted her birth story yet (still working on it) but I wanted to share some of what has happened to us, as a family, in the first two weeks, and share how Charlotte is growing. After this I will monthly give updates on our girl…although I’m sure there will be some other posts in between.
The first few days of Charlotte’s life were pretty typical. We were in the hospital—she was rooming in with us—and most of the time revolved around nursing and sleeping (as it still does, now). The day we were supposed to be discharged from the hospital they took Charlotte to do one last well being check. Dave went with them, and when he came back without her, I knew something was wrong. He said that she had been tested for jaundice, and her bilirubin level was at 17. The doctor wanted her to be at a level of 10 before she could go home, and since he knew we wanted out of the hospital ASAP, he said she would need to be under phototherapy for 12-18 hours a day. This meant she would basically stay in the nursery 24 hours a day receiving the phototherapy, with breaks only to let me feed her.
We knew that jaundice wasn’t a serious condition, but the idea that we would be separated from her was really hard. It brought back all of the memories of Sophia, and I became very emotional. The first time I went to the baby room to feed her I just wept and wept. I couldn’t believe that, once again, we were in a situation where we couldn’t see our own child when we wanted. I had to ask permission to be able to feed her.
The doctor thought that after 48 hours under the phototherapy regimen she should be able to go home. So, 2 days later they checked her bilirubin level again and it was at 13. I was devastated. I started to cry, and the doctors seemed so upset at the fact that I was crying that they told us we could take her home. We were instructed to bring her back in another 48 hours to get another bilirubin blood test, and if her level was below 17, she could stay home with us. Well, those were the words that we were waiting to hear!! We got to bring our baby home from the hospital! Again, that had always been our dream for Sophia—a dream that was never realized. For most parents this seems like the most normal thing in the world, but for us it was a dream come true.
Those first two days back home were so wonderful, and yet very stressful for me. As the sole provider of her source of food, I felt a lot of pressure to get her well fed, which in turn would allow her to have lots of dirty diapers, which in turn would help lower her bilirubin levels. As the two days passed we watched her skin color get darker and redder, and we knew that things weren’t looking good.
At her appointment her blood test came back with a level of 20, which is quite high, and the doctor told us she would have to be readmitted to the hospital right away. We would have to give her formula for 24 hours (he believed she has breast milk jaundice) and she would most likely be in the hospital for 4 days.
Hearing that totally broke our hearts. Again, we were going back to a NICU. Again, we would only be able to see our baby for short periods each day (their visiting hours were just 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night!). It was a flashback to Sophia all over again.
Now, to those of you who are thinking, “it’s just jaundice! that is so common and nothing to worry about”, I want to say that we know jaundice isn’t serious. We didn’t think she was never going to come out of the hospital, but it just brought back a lot of memories/feelings/fears from our ordeal with Sophia. Many of our friends and family tried to comfort us by telling us not to worry, and that we shouldn’t be upset, but I think they weren’t considering the past experiences we have endured. It was kind of our small version of post traumatic stress.
After 24 hours on formula, her level dropped to 15 and they told me I could breastfeed her again. So, that began 4 crazy days of driving to and from the hospital every four hours, and pumping breast milk every two hours I wasn’t at the hospital. After her first day back on breast milk her level dropped to 13, and then 48 hours later her level was 9.6. We could finally take our little girl back home again!!!
We were allowed to take her home with another doctor’s appointment and blood check scheduled for 48 hours later. Again, during those 2 days I was completely stressed out. I was so afraid she was going to have to go back into the hospital. Every hour she didn’t have a dirty diaper I just imagined her levels rising and rising. We checked her skin every half hour. It was torture. Thankfully, at the next appointment her level had only risen to about 13, which was acceptable. No more hospital stays, and no more doctor visits or blood draws for two more weeks!
That day when we came home from the doctor’s appointment I was determined to enjoy my baby girl. I put my cell phone away since I had been constantly Google-ing every fear or thought that entered my brain. I reminded myself that she was healthy, she was ok, she was not going to die like Sophia did. That day we spent hours just laying in bed together, skin to skin, and it was amazing. For the first time in her almost two weeks of life, I could really just relax and enjoy her. I could marvel at this perfect gift from above, and I spent time just thanking God for this precious blessing.
I am now trying to relax more, and just trust my body and hers. It’s hard though. I think it’s hard for any mom to do that, but especially for a first child after a loss. Projecting Sophia’s life onto Charlotte is all too easy, and I have to pray all the time that God will help me to enjoy her, and not live in fear. Please pray for us that we can continue to live in full trust of God, and not fear of the past.
And now onto a quick recap of what Charlotte has been up to these past two weeks:
It’s amazing how much she has changed in two weeks! In the last few days she has had longer periods of being awake (when she’s not eating) and so it’s been fun to really start interacting with her. She can follow toys with her eyes and turns her head to follow them as well. Her favorite toy is a black and red ladybug puppet we bought on a whim just a few days before she was born. At night she sleeps quite well, and usually I have to wake her up to feed her. She has been great at nursing since birth, and it continues to be her absolute favorite thing to do. Not only does she nurse for food, but for comfort, so we are eager to try out a pacifier after she is a month old or so. She has amazing neck control and strength, and can easily lift up her head and turn it from side to side. She will even hold her head and trunk up on her elbows when laid on her tummy, for a few seconds.
Since Dave and I were so used to Sophia’s condition and all of Champ’s delays as our version of “normal”, Charlotte already amazes us at what she is able to do!