Before I say anything else I need to apologise that this diary entry is very late and relates to a few days ago… as it turns out, when you’ve got a new baby, time literally disappears between all the different things you do for your kid meaning that your own little projects need to take a back seat.
It wasn’t long after midnight that the reality of being a parent suddenly kicked in… that’s one of the problems with an emergency c section, you don’t get a chance to dip your toe in and gently ease in to the pool that is parenting – you just kind of get pushed in from the side of the diving board for a massive reality belly flop! But this reality check wasn’t anything meaningful or important… it was the simple act of being shit on! That first time I changed his nappy – something I would never have imagined doing 2 years ago, made me realise that this little guy depends on me now.
“tip of the day – they warn you that the first poo your baby will do will be a little bit of black tar like crap… let me tell you, there’s nothing little about it. He pooped and I hadn’t got everything ready so in a panic I put my hand out and let it fill my palm like a big liquorice flavoured mr whippy ice cream. As I wiped it off, bam! He filled my hand a second time… that first baby crap is nothing short of rank! That’s actually more of a warning so to turn that little tit bit in to a tip; be prepared with everything you need, and more BEFORE you start to change your baby!”
The first night
The first night then continued to be spattered with bouts of crying, screaming, squirming and feeding but only until about 2:30 am or so… after that he went to sleep and stayed liked like that until almost 9:00 am. We tried to wake him up a few times to feed him – I know, why would you wake a perfectly quiet baby!? But to no avail… it actually got quite worrying because they recommend that a breast fed baby should feed about every 3 hours or more regular, however not less than that.
What this did mean is that in terms of the baby I did manage to get about 3 hours sleep which was nice as I’d been up since 7:00 am the day before that… the same could be said about my wife but firstly this ain’t her diary so let me keep moaning about my own lack of sleep and secondly she was in a bed. I can’t speak for other UK NHS trust hospitals, private labor clinics or other countries, however where we were they have what they call reclining chairs for the men. I wasn’t expecting a lay-z-boy but these awful uncomfortable and noisy leather chairs don’t really recline, the leg bit just clumsily pops up a bit!
That first night really didn’t come with a huge amount of sleep for us as we were just worries about this little guy but were put at ease in the morning when the midwife said that he looked great and was feeding just fine.
One thing the nhs does very well and I have to applaud them for it is to look after the mums. They get well fed and kept hydrated… but us men get down right ignored. Not once when I was there did I get offered a tea, coffee or ice lolly… and man did those lollies look good! I understand not getting dinner but getting nothing at all – not even a hot beverage when they encourage guys to be there for the mums and babies is a bit shitty… what else do I pay national insurance for? I never go to the damn doctors!
The first real day
After a rough night it was time to start the first day which was pretty slow to begin with, getting offered some breakfast (well my wife did) at around 7am and to then not be seen again until she got offered lunch at around 12:30.
Not being seen by anyone other than the dinner lady since a quick visit first thing in the morning was a bit shit to be honest as we had no idea what we were doing. Especially since he had to wear a red hat whilst the other babies had Orange hats and were being seen every 3 hours. I think because we were in the corner bed and made the least amount of fuss we were forgotten about a bit.
The coloured hat system
Just to clarify about the hats, these are a special labor ward code! It’s actually quite clever as it makes it really easy for the midwives to see who needs their attention – as long as they bother looking at everyone that is!
So there are 3 different hats, and the one you want is a green one! Green hat babies are lowest priority and don’t need any immediate attention, whilst Orange hat babies are not in any immediate risk or danger but should be checked on regularly just to make sure that they don’t go down hill.
As we had an emergency c section baby he immediately went from low risk before the birth to high risk. He got the red hat of doom!
This meant that really he should have been checked on regularly for one reason or another because the birth didn’t go to plan. He turned out perfect and maybe that’s why they didn’t keep checking him every 5 minutes but I’d they insist on using such an easy to see and blatantly obvious / recognisable code it would be nice if they changed the hat once his condition changes or at the very least took his red hat away… but of course in reality they do fuck all and you just sit there wondering if your baby is ok now.
The funniest thing was when some one did eventually come around, after Ripley had already spent a load of time with his hospital issue hat on and then another hat during the night because we thought he needed it, they told us; “your baby should never have a hat on indoors.”
Just fyi at this point, the ideal indoor temperature is supposedly around 20c and they recommend not above 25c. At least that’s what the midwives told us. But again, just like with the hats, if you looked at the thermometer on the wall of our ridiculously small ward with 4 couples and babies crammed in, the temperature never dropped below 25c!
One thing worth mentioning is that where we were, and I think it is the case for all nhs hospitals (certainly the couple round here), someone from Bounty will come round in the morning to hand out a bag of crap to all new mums.
It is mostly leaflets and free samples of stuff, and to be honest it can be pretty useful stuff. This bag isn’t all that great with the contents (especially vouchers) being pretty low in quantity! However they do also hand out bags at other stages of the pregnancy which are well worth getting and I’ll write a blog post about that at some point!
The main reason for their little visit however is 2 fold… First data collection! People love to collect a bit of data for emails and shit in the mail! And second to try and sell you photos of your baby.
We have got a photographer coming out and I take pics of him all the time but I didn’t fancy having professional shots of the baby done at the hospital… it’s not the most cheerful or aesthetically pleasing backdrop!
So needless to say we said not thanks!
The rest of the morning and early afternoon didn’t really change an awful lot more from waiting, other than that my wife finally had her catheter removed after her lunch, giving her the option of moving about a little more. This is something which she really needed to get the blood flowing in her legs a little and give her a chance to bond with Ripley a little, independent of me!
Her legs were a little on the sore side because a very strange effect the previous day during the induction process was that where the baby had moved further down it was putting pressure on her lower extremities and she ended up bursting a bunch of capillaries in her legs just by walking around!
A bit of relief however came to break up the day when we had our first visitors for the day as first a friend from work and then my parents popped over to the hospital to see little Ripley. It was so nice to see the amazing support which we would have with this little guy as we started our journey with him.
The first thing everyone seems to say about him is that either he i absolutely gorgeous or that he is perfect… Personally I totally agree that he is absolutely the most gorgeous baby in the world, but then I’m a little biased!
Visiting hours however are strange and when lasting just from 4:00pm until 7:00pm the extra company wasn’t long lived, which led us to having a think about the night ahead.
To this point I myself had barely eaten, so decided to pop to Tesco to get a sandwich each (even though the girls get fed at hospital, the evening meal of a sandwich and soup was a bit shit) and a three pack of Krispee Kremes… These are all 3 for me – I don’t share Krispee Kremes with no one!
With a stomach full of crap we had a chat about the night trying to consider the fact that I couldn’t sleep in the chair, I hadn’t eaten properly, was stating to feel pretty rough, had washing to do (yup the baby was already pounding through his clothes quicker than we had been buying them – that’s another thing I picked up in Tesco that afternoon… New Born Sleep-suits), had to sort the dogs out and that my wife was now able to get out of bed.
Trying to get some sleep
We decided that I would leave around 9:30pm and come back first thing in the morning to try and get some rest as I was constantly driving back and forth so this was would be a little safer for all of us… Especially if we were able to come home in the coming days.
“Tip of the night (because you can’t have 2 tips of the day) – I know that the women do SO much more work during the whole pregnancy than us guys, however don’t underestimate how much you will do in those early days! There is a lot of running about, trying to take care of both of them and worrying… It takes its own toll and it’s so important to also take care of yourself during this time. How you gonna look after them if you’re ill?”
After all this I finally got home at around 10:30pm and after making myself a nice honey filled mug of Beechams to nurse what felt like a cold coming on, I swiftly puked twice before I made it to bed… Seriously, if you’re not careful all the stress and eating shit (or nothing at all), has the potential to really catch up on you.