Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The First 48 Hours - Homesick?

It's been over 48 hours since we brought Alicia home. Things have been, in a word . . . exhausting. As a friend of mine put it, I don't think anything could ever prepare you for the first few nights with a newborn. One way I thought of describing it is that it's everything I'd hope it would be - the sweet cuddles, the adorable smiles, the angelic look of our princess napping, the nearness of her- and it's also everything that others warned me about that I had always wished would somehow pass us over - the inconsolable crying, the day/night mixup, the sleepless nights, the constant diaper changes and feedings. Those of you who are parents know exactly what I'm talking about.

A bible verse that God has been bringing up over and over again to me is Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." After these first two days, I think one possible revision for this verse might be, "In their hearts PARENTS plan their course, but the BABY(IES) determine(s) their steps." Haha.

Before we were pregnant and all through these past 10 months since, Linda and I have read all sorts of books and websites on how to deal with newborns and set them on a schedule. When we found out we were going to bring Alicia home for good, Linda and I devised a plan of attack.

We knew that Alicia would need to eat every three hours. And we knew that we wanted to follow a eat, wake, sleep pattern for our day. We tried it out at the hospital and it seemed to work the one or two times that we did it there. Yeah, when we brought the idea home. Alicia had other plans.

First of all she would take an hour to feed, and then during the feedings she'd fall asleep. We tried pinching her, tickling her, squeezing her toes, a cold cloth. The little girl just would not stay awake long enough to feed.

The first night at home with her, I got so frustrated. Linda and I decided that I would take care of the 12:00 a.m. late night feeding so that she could go to bed early and then wake up for the 3:00 a.m. feeding. I started feeding Alicia right at about 12:00, and as is her pattern, she started off sucking super eagerly to the point of nearly choking on her milk. As time went on however, she just got more and more tired and sleepy. By about 1:15, I really wanted to yell at and shake Alicia and say, "ALICIA! WAKE UP! I KNOW YOU'RE TIRED BUT SO AM I! IF YOU FINISH YOUR MILK THEN WE COULD BOTH GO TO SLEEP AND BE HAPPY." But I controlled myself. Eventually, after about 50 min. of feeding, I just gave up. I decided, I'd just let her sleep.

Yeah. About 10 min. after I put her down in her bed, she woke up and decided that she didn't want to sleep anymore and she started crying and moving around for the rest of the night. Problem is that we've got her on a monitor that measures her heart rate and oxygen levels. Whens he moves around too much the monitor can't get accurate readings and starts beeping like crazy. Yeah. Not too conducive to Mommy and Daddy's sleep.

Thankfully, God has granted me an incredible ability to sleep through almost anything, so I didn't actually get too disturbed by the noise until about 5:30 in the morning. Linda on the other hand being the loving mother that she was, couldn't stop worrying about our little girl who was sound oh so miserable. And so she didn't sleep very much at all.

The next morning, feeling like failures we called the SBR and also one of our nursing friends and told them about what had happened. When they heard about our evening, they didn't sound too surprised. In fact, it seemed like it was actually something quite common for kids that have come home after such a long hospitalization. They said that Alicia was probably not used to living in the new environment and that she'd need need a few days to adjust to being at home. In other words, ironically, Alicia, though she was home, was homesick for her little incubator at the hospital.

I think that makes a lot of sense. The hospital is actually quite an active place. The lights are bright, there are people talking, babies crying, and machines beeping. Alicia probably got used to being in such a loud environment that she just was not used the dark and quiet of our house.

When speaking to other parents of preemies, they confirmed my suspicions and suggested playing some music or having some white noise in the background for Alicia. They also suggested swaddling her nice and tight for a sense of security.

Last night, the second night, I tried a few of these things. I swaddled Alicia nice and tight and laid her down in her basket with an iPod playing her playlist from the hospital. I didn't want the music too loud for fear that Mommy couldn't sleep. Problem is that the songs all had different volume levels, so what was soft for one song, became silent for another song. So when the "silent" songs played, that's when Alicia started stirring. Add on to the fact that I didn't put on Alicia's sensor correctly, so halfway through the night with all her moving around, the sensor came off her foot. Once that happened the machine read ZERO and started blaring loudly warning us that our daughter was no longer breathing and her heart had stopped. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a beeping machine reading ZERO for both heart beat and oxygen that's supposedly attached to your daughter. The first thing I did was to see if Alicia was still alive. And to my relief, she was fine.

We're hoping and praying that tonight will be better. I have to say that the second full day with her has been a lot better. I learned how to feed her and kind of go with her rhythm so now feeding doesn't exhaust her as much, and it doesn't take her as long. =) Hopefully we'll figure out this sleeping thing soon.

She sleeps fantastically during the through all sorts of things. Talking, phone ringing, bright lights, etc... but at night she just doesn't get that it's sleep time. =) I'm sure that will just come with time.

Thanks for praying for us friends! Keep the prayers coming.



  1. People used to say to us that we were lucky we got to skip the newborn stage. The trouble was, we didn't, he still came home a newborn!
    The first few months were awful. Robbie wasn't a good sleeper for a LONG time. We could never do the EASY thing because of Robbie's reflux, too much activity after eating lead to puking, so he pretty much HAD to eat-sleep-activity.

    Anyway, the beginning is all about survival. It sounds like things are going normally (you know, plus monitor alarms... ;) ) and it will improve eventually, I promise.

    Also, let me add that I did yell at Robbie a time or two. I felt AWFUL afterwards, but the depths of exhaustion you can hit are pretty indescribable, so if you get there, dont' think you're alone. Just lean on each other and your friends to get some rest!

  2. And just when you think you got it down... Bam! Everything changes... =P

  3. Praying for you! You may know this but I do remember reading in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child that sleep patterns usually go by the due date for babies born early. Even for my boys born just 2 weeks early I found they tended to hit the patterns he described based on their due date rather than their birth date. It usually takes a couple months for sleep patterns to "organize." Hopefully Alicia will hit that before too long, and especially getting the day/night confusion straightened out; that's a tough one!

  4. You are doing all the right things. Swaddling is key. I'm so sorry about the monitors! I REALLY hated those things. I know they are supposed to save their lives, but they made me want to rip them off of him! So sorry you have to deal with it. Hopefully you won't have to deal with it for too long. Yes, it will get better! Tag team is good, too! Love you guys!