My first week as a mother was not what I expected it to be

My intentions to share with you the first three months of Jaxons life that led up to the blog entries I wrote in the moment, were not realistic. Too much happened. Too many tests, too many different concerns, too many thoughts and too many feelings. To tell this story properly I’m going to have to start with the first week only. That is all I will fit in this blog post. You must remember I’m writing this retrospectively which is proving difficult. I have looked back in chat history, Snapchat memories, my photo gallery and spoke with friends and family to try to recall as much as possible.

Saturday 19th August
Jaxon Jules Robotham was born (I’ll share my labour story at some point too!). My second heartbeat left my body and lay on my chest. He passed all health checks at birth and in the morning on the doctors round. It felt SO surreal. I was surprised I hadn’t cried. Weren’t you supposed to cry with happiness? When would the rush of emotions hit? I was expecting them. This was too big of a deal to not cry. I’d created life. I lay awake in hospital just staring at him, taking photos, breastfeeding, sending my family and friends videos. I was exhausted but I had this little human beside me, how could I sleep? When the sun came up family and friends were there. I was in Leicester for university and so people travelled from Nottingham to come and welcome him to the world. If I recall correctly I was asked if I wanted to go home but I asked for another night because I still wasn’t confident. No one had really seen me. I’d had to ask how to change his nappy (I’d been around babies before but he was so tiny and new) and how to wash him. In all honesty I was scared to go home and do something wrong. I think so anyway, this might be a complete made up scenario in my head. I was tired. But either way we stayed in Saturday night.

Sunday 20th August – Tuesday 22nd August
Whether I asked to stay Saturday night or not, when the doctors came around on Sunday they ordered bloods querying his bilirubin levels due to his skin colour. I hadn’t noticed anything unusual about his skin colour but how would I, he was brand new, there was no comparison. I thought the colour of his skin was what it was supposed to be. It turned out he had Jaundice which is high levels of bilirubin in the blood (for more information on Jaundice visit NHS New Born Jaundice Overview).

Jaundice is extremely common in newborns, it is believed to affect 6 in 10 newborn babies according to the NHS. Whilst I wasn’t too worried, I again felt like I should feel more. In this case, upset. I was worried but I think my nursing background was probably the cause of my sanity in the scenario. I trusted doctors and if they weren’t freaking out then neither was I. Jaxon was put under phototherapy in one of those little ‘sunbed’ incubators and given extra milk by cup feeding (luckily my milk had come through so I was able to express breast milk). I was extremely impressed to learn newborns can drink from a cup! This went on for around 48 hours. I believe the ‘norm’ is 24 hours or so but when they checked the bilirubin levels, they weren’t where they should be and so they continued the therapy. Monday evening (to the best of my recollection) they said the levels were normal and that we could go home in the morning. Me being me, requested they check again before we went home and when they did, they told me they were much better. So home we went!

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Featuring a still very pregnant looking belly!

Tuesday night at home was indescribable. Jaxon was breastfed and would not get off me. I got zero sleep and considering I hadn’t slept for more than 2 hours a night since Saturday, it was taking its toll. I could barely keep my eyes open and remember googling if it was safe to fall asleep with your baby on you in bed. I knew it wasn’t safe but I thought how unsafe? Because it felt like the inevitable, I was only human. In the end it just was not worth it and I kept myself awake with his safety in mind.

Wednesday 23rd August – Thursday 24th August
The evening of the 23rd I changed Jaxons nappy to see a lump on the right of his groin. Naturally, I was concerned. I called 111 and they booked us in to A&E (who knew you could get appointments at A&E, I didn’t!). However, whilst on the phone, the lump disappeared, then reappeared. What on earth? We arrived at A&E and the doctor that saw us said it was a hernia and referred us to the surgical doctors upstairs on the Children’s Assessment Unit. In his assessment I had mentioned also that Jaxon was not waking for his feeds (I don’t remember this, I remember him not letting me put him down Tuesday night and that clearly scarred me to forget that he then slept a lot), the doctor had a very blasé “babies sleep a lot, that is what babies do” response. Which made sense, I guess. Then we went upstairs and saw the surgical doctors. It’s interesting to look back and think how nerve-racking this was yet now, I would love a little hernia operation to be my biggest worry. Again, during this assessment it came up that he was very sleepy and not waking for feeds but to take into consideration he’d had jaundice. This doctor had a different opinion on that to the one earlier. This doctor advised that the hernia surgery was not urgent as the hernia wasn’t permanently out and could be pushed back in which meant he could have the operation any time within the next two weeks (for a better understanding of this type of hernia visit NHS Inguinal Hernia Overview) . However, he was concerned about Jaxon’s sleepiness and so kept us overnight and requested bloods. By this time it was already 1am. The junior doctor that took his bloods had to be the worst I’ve seen to date, she took 30-45 minutes to collect blood from several heel pricks and he was screaming. I wanted to kill her (Dear Junior Doctors in Paeds, from Mum).

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Hospital stay #2 @ 4 days old!

Then, after a few hours in a bay with my very unhappy 5 day old baby next to a 15-year-old girl, we were told we could go home. At 6am? I didn’t argue and took a taxi home assuming the bloods were fine.

Later that day my Nanna and Aunt came to collect us to take us back to my mums in Nottingham as his Dad had to go back to London for a day or two.

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First road trip – Leicester to Nottingham – done!

Thursday night was slightly more chilled than Tuesday at least.

Friday 23rd August
This could have been such a good day. I was back in Nottingham, I invited my friends over and family popped up too. We had a house full of people coo’ing and I was there with a cup of tea telling my labour story whilst Jaxon got passed around for cuddles. This is what it’s all about right?!

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Mid afternoon I was about to breastfeed him (see also my post on why some people can’t breastfeed and why thats ok: Breastfeeding: No need to feel #Guiltitties) when I noticed a blister inside his lip and became panic struck. About 24 hours after he was born I had a cold sore pop up. I’d had them since I was about 8 years old and after labour/no sleep I wasn’t too surprised my immune system was running low. I knew how cold sores could affect newborns and that was the reason I had never kissed my baby. Yep, never. I didn’t feel the need to kiss him, holding him, skin to skin and breastfeeding etc were enough for me to bond. But seeing this blister freaked me out. I knew logically it wasn’t possible but I couldn’t control the anxiety that set in. I called 111 and I’m pretty sure they thought I was insane.

However, whilst on the phone to them the assessor asked if he was awake “No”, “Okay can you wake him for me”, I tried. My baby would not wake up. The assessor was telling me “I need you to wake him or it’s going to be an emergency, are you trying to wake him?” Yes I was, we stripped him down, sat him up, called his name, rubbed his cheeks, my best friend was trying to tickle him with her acrylics so rigorously I was extremely uncomfortable with how rough it looked, and he still didn’t wake. “Have you tried poking him tickling him, taking his clothes off?” yes yes yes “If he doesn’t wake I need you to know it’s going to be an emergency and I’m going to have to send an ambulance” My mind was going wild, my heart was racing, I had wandered into the kitchen pacing when I heard them call through “he’s awake!” PHEW! I breathed. The assessor restarted the questions and arranged a call back from a nurse. The nurse really wasn’t concerned about the blister and instead told me that if I was really concerned then I could go to a walk in centre but he didn’t have a temperature and was conscious with no rashes.

What she said made sense. Maybe I was being irrational. But I still wasn’t confident. Mainly now because I was noticing how drowsy he was. So me and the bestie nipped him to the local pharmacy instead. The pharmacist advised it was not a cold sore and she was not concerned but again, if I was, I could take him to a walk in centre to be sure. So no one was concerned except for me? One thing concerning me was that both the nurse and the pharmacist said if it was the cold sore virus he would have a temperature and I knew from the news stories I’d read in the past that this wasn’t the case, it was a silent killer.

We got back to my mums and although I had calmed down, I was not convinced. He was still asleep. He hadn’t been waking for feeds. The only time he had cried was when we were in the fridge section of ASDA and he got cold. It shouldn’t have been that hard to wake him earlier. And so, I did the Moro Reflex Test I’d seen the doctors do. You know, where they pretend to drop the baby and the baby naturally reacts by flinging out their arms. But when I did it to Jaxon, no response. That was it, I needed to go to the hospital. He was floppy and unresponsive and the more I questioned it the more clear it became. My baby was not right. Something was wrong. It didn’t matter that the nurse on the phone wasn’t concerned, and the pharmacist that saw him wasn’t either. I was concerned.

The second we got him into the car seat and into the car it started to sink in. He was so floppy I had to keep one arm on his forehead to stop his head hanging forward. This was the worst trip I’d ever taken. Nurse Kaytee kicked in and I called the Leicester hospital explaining the scenario and asking them to give me the latest blood test results for me to help the doctors at Nottingham A&E who wouldn’t have his records. The doctor was cooperative and I handed the phone to my mum to write them down as I held his head up. Whilst reading the results the doctor said to my mum “and you’re on your way to A&E now? Oh good.” . Oh good? So the bloods from Wednesday night were clearly abnormal but it was Friday and I was only finding out by contacting them en route to A&E?!

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You see why I couldn’t fit three months in one post now? We’ve covered 6 days and it was hella long. Now I’ve got until next Sunday to work out what I can fit in to the next post! Please comment with your thoughts and opinions reading this. Your feedback is what keeps me posting and writing is proving to be a helpful therapy for me right now. A therapy I wouldn’t be indulging in without your interest. 

I’ve also posted my pregnancy story prior to this to provide some background: Pregnancy was not a breeze..