My life since Roo was born has changed tremendously. Life has changed even from the time she was in the NICU versus when she’s been at home. I don’t know what it is like to have a full term baby and so I’m sharing my experience as a first time mom of a preemie.
When Roo was first born and in the nicu, I spent at least 8 hours a day with her. I would wake up and drive into the city with MH and stay with Roo at least until 1pm. Then I would go home for a nap and them return again in the evening to meet MH and spend a few hours with her again. We would go home and have dinner and then sleep and start again the next day! But, at least I was able to get sleep between pump sessions.
Since she’s been home, my day is even less structured and a whole heck of a lot harder. In the hospital, she had a care schedule that meant she ate every three hours and not a minute sooner or later. Now she eats on demand. When she first got home, we stuck with that schedule for the most part because she did well with that schedule and even though she could eat on demand she pretty much stuck with it. I would pump and someone else would feed her a bottle of my pumped milk with human fortifier. Then because she spits up a lot after eating we have to hold her upright for 20-30 minutes. The whole process took about an hour. I would almost immediately go back to bed and someone else would watch her for me. My body was exhausted from being on bed rest for two weeks followed by the stress of having a preemie in the hospital and, oh right!. I had just given birth!!
Either no one told me or I didn’t listen but the first few weeks/months with a new baby at home is based solely on survival. Helping your new baby survive by feeding her, making sure she is clean and allowing her to sleep. She needs very little else. It is mind numbingly exhausting. I has no idea it would be this hard.
We have left the house with her only a handful of times for pediatrician appointments, a visit to the lactation consultant and for the first time this past weekend for lunch at an outdoor cafe, where we sat very far away from other tables.
We have no routine other than the fact that she eats around every 2.5-3 hours, give or take 30 minutes on either side. Since I started exclusively breast feeding her, it can take a while. She can be a slow eater. That means if she is cluster feeding, she might want to eat every other hour and it might take her 30-45 minutes to eat before starting over.
I don’t get a lot done. In fact, I get very little done. Some days especially in the beginning I don’t even get a shower in. There are some days when I don’t get out of my pajamas.
Roo is now considered full term. That means we can follow the books and she will start to behave like a newborn baby instead of a preemie. I’m looking forward to watching her develop especially as she starts to eat and sleep like a newborn!!
I’m dreaming of the days when she will sleep quietly without being held. I dream of the day when she will be able to lay on her tummy time mat and entertain herself for a few minutes. I can’t wait until she has her vaccinations and we can take her out in public. I can’t wait until I feel comfortable taking her with me as I run errands. I haven’t run an errand since she came home from the hospital – crazy as it sounds I am excited for my new normal to start.
Motherhood is way harder than I thought. I love it though. Today, she and I were snuggling on the sofa and I stared at her in wonder. MH and I made this beautiful baby and I birthed her into this world. She is a little, amazing creature that I worked hard to bring into the world. She is worth every bit of pain and sorrow.
I’m sad we lost our first little one but if we hadn’t lost that one, Madeleine would not be here. And so, I’m reminded that everything – good and challenging – happens for a reason.
My life has changed and it will never be the same but it is better and will only continue to get better as Roo grows up! I’m so excited!!