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Behind the scenes: First 4 weeks of motherhood

Photo source 

To be honest, the first four weeks of motherhood was super tough. Baby blues hit me hard and thank God I didn't fall into postpartum depression. This transition as a first-time mother was quite stressful for me. No textbook, no manual, everything is forever changing.

What happened during those trying four weeks?

Hubby and I didn't hire a confinement lady. My in-laws were my biggest support during those weeks. My hubby, being a first-time daddy, was trying his best to cope too.

 Healing from second degree perineal tearing 

I couldn't sit on hard surfaces at all; I needed to sit on a cushioned float but I had to adjust sitting positions many times whenever I felt pressure down there. I didn't want to burst the stitches.

Standing and walking a lot 

That's because I couldn't sit down for long without feeling painful down there. My feet became swollen because I was standing for long periods of time including when I was breastfeeding the baby.

Breastfeeding with wrong latch-on techniques 

Since I couldn't sit properly, my upper back hurt badly when I fed baby with hunched back and on tip-toe.

Cracked / sore nipples 

Due to wrong latch-on techniques resulted from uncomfortable sitting position and tiredness from standing long hours, my nipples were cracked and sore.

Mastitis 

Mastitis was breast inflammation developed from cracked nipples. I was feverish; my right breast with its badly cracked nipple was engorged and a red warm area appeared on one side of the breast. Panicked, I contacted susuibu.com and asked for a home visit from lactation consultant. Pn. Kamariah came and the first thing she helped was to resolve my mastitis issue. My mother-in-law managed to coax a GP to come up to our house to prescribe a course of antibiotics for me and gave me an injection to reduce my fever (39.1 degrees Celsius). Pn. Kamariah also told us that baby might have tongue-tie.

Tongue-tie 

Baby had posterior tongue-tie. We finally did frenotomy at Dr. Koe's clinic when he was about 2 weeks old. Tongue-tie caused poor milk intake and thus jaundice was prolonged and poor weight gain.

Prolonged jaundice / breastmilk jaundice 

On the 5th day, baby had jaundice; he refused to stay under phototherapy lights in the hospital. So we did home phototherapy. His jaundice reading rose from 295 to 314 then dropped to 265.9.

On the 15th day, rebound jaundice and baby was hospitalized for second round of phototherapy in Kuala Terengganu Specialist Hospital with a reading of 395.2!!! Dropped to 194.9 upon discharge. 

I cried and cried every time I saw his little body trashing around in the phototherapy box and every single time his tiny hand or heel was pricked to draw blood. Heart broken to the max. 

I was so lethargic because I needed to juggle between not exerting pain down there and taking care of baby and going to hospital. I didn't have enough rest during confinement. In fact, I did not have a proper confinement month.

On the 20th and 22nd day, baby's jaundice reading was 234 and 249. After a series of blood test was done on baby (yes, blood had been drawn from him so many times) plus urine test, liver and thyroid malfunction were ruled out. Urine test passed, so bacterial infection was ruled out.

Finally it was accepted that baby's prolonged jaundice was breastmilk jaundice which will take weeks (6-8) or up to 2-3 months (in some babies) to disappear. The best solution is to direct latch (breastfeed) him round the clock to make him poop and pee out the bilirubin faster.


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Everything came in one full "package" and I was really pushed to my limits. I was also obsessed about my milk supply and baby's pee and poop counts, even his poop's color. I Googled everything and tried to analyze and "diagnose" whenever I noticed some changes in baby's usual behavior.

Also, being sleep-deprived, having to cope with baby's forever changing pattern, and worrying about his jaundice, I was on the verge of mental breakdown.

But I'm super lucky to have very supportive in-laws and hubby. They help out a lot and never question about my breastmilk quality or quantity. All they want is baby and mother to be happy and taken care of.

My latest mantra: Be a warrior, not a worrier.


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More: Surviving the Fourth Trimester


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Updated! My birth story :)

  

The Predict

13 August 2013, Tuesday - I went to see my obgyn Dr. Noor Fidak at Tropicana Medical Center. I was 38 weeks 3 days pregnant. Dr. Fidak confirmed that baby's head was already deeply engaged and I would give birth very soon. After giving me a letter to allow me to work from home from 14-20 August, she commented that the next time we meet, it'd be in the labor room. I was quite surprised to hear that but I was ready too.

14 August 2013, Wednesday morning - I spotted some brownish discharge but there were no labor surges yet apart from more frequent Braxton-Hicks. I was working from home the whole day.

A 'Show' at Dinner

14 August 2013 evening - Hubby dear fetched me for dinner before we visited a friend. Little did I know that would be my final dinner as a pregnant lady.

After dinner, I sensed that my surges pattern changed. They were more regular and repeated every 10-12 minutes. Each surge lasted between 20-45 seconds. Then at 9:35pm, I had the birth show. At that point, when I saw that reddish blob in the toilet bowl, I knew I would be holding a baby in my arms very soon.

Hubby and I left our friend's house and quickly went home. Hubby served my favorite coconut water to me and helped wash my hair before we went to bed. I was having regular surges every 8-10 minutes.

Midnight Surging

I couldn't sleep from 11pm till 3am, trying to breathe with every surge. I walked around, breathing and grimacing.

15 August 2013, Thursday - I called Wai Han around 3:30am. We were on the phone for half an hour as she helped me to focus on my breathing again. I was obviously in major discomfort and wasn't breathing right. About 4:30am, I woke my hubby up and asked him to send me to the hospital (almost 26km away from our house). The journey seemed to take forever.

I was officially admitted to Tropicana Medical Center at 5:12am. The midwife did the first vaginal examination (VE) with my consent and I was 3cm dilated. At 9:15am, another VE was done with my consent and I was 6cm dilated. Those 4 hours went by quite fast when I breathed following what I have learned during HypnoBirthing classes. My hubby read the birth affirmation to me while rubbing my lower back as I sat on the bed. I was too lazy and in much discomfort to want to walk around.

At one point, maybe around 9:30am, I told my hubby I couldn't take this any longer. Now thinking back, I believe that was the hallmark of labor.

Whooshing Water

At 9:35am, my water bag broke. Whoosh! It felt like someone splashing a water hose at my private part. Then, the "pushing" instincts kicked in. I tried to control the surges but it wasn't easy. I forgot about birth breathing. :P

I was sitting on my bed with my back straight after the water bag broke. Then, around 9:50am, following my body's cue, I changed position to kneeling on the bed with my hands on the bed's headrest.

At 10:00am, I could feel baby's head crowning.

Torpedo Baby

I couldn't remember how many times I need to breath down - I didn't think I had the chance to do proper breathing down because baby shot out like a torpedo at 10:16am - only my hubby was in the room. The nurses, midwives, and even my obgyn didn't arrive in time to guide me to "push" in time. I was saved from episiotomy but wasn't spared from second degree tear. I should have remembered to visualize the rosebud. :P

Baby's chord was clamped after it stopped pulsating. Baby was passed to his father for immediate skin-to-skin because I was still in the kneeling position with the cord dangling between my legs. Then, my placenta was delivered within 10 minutes without intervention. Dr. Fidak stitched up my tearing.

Then, it was skin-to-skin time with baby, I breastfed him and let him stayed on my chest for the next 1.5 hours in the labor ward before I was transferred to my own room.


Baby roomed in with us the whole night and I let him latched on for as long as he liked.

We were discharged the next morning. :)


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