Penny: 1 Week Old

I woke up this morning to 6 different emails from various pregnancy apps/websites I subscribe to, all chock-full of information about Week 38 of pregnancy — guess I should go update my settings, eh? After all, we’re not counting weeks of gestation anymore, we’re counting Penny’s AGE!

 
And yesterday at 6:07 PM, Penny officially turned one week old.

Victory!

It’s pretty surreal to me that a full week has already passed, although it makes total sense that time has flew by so quickly. A LOT happened this week, after all! And, yes, obviously Penny being born was the most significant and life-changing part of it all. But it was also just the beginning, and there’s much more to report from our first week as a new family.

 
So, Penny was born on Wednesday evening, and we were discharged Friday afternoon. We had one night at home (oooof, that first night…), and then had a follow-up appointment at our pediatrician’s office the next day (Saturday). Weeeeell, the doctor didn’t like Penny’s bilirubin (jaundice) levels (they were kind of borderline at the hospital, but we were discharged anyway with the hopes that they wouldn’t go up too much… womp womp), so we ended up being immediately sent back to the hospital! They wanted us to check back in so that she could receive phototherapy treatment.

Now, I have to admit, my reaction wasn’t awesome. I pretty much just openly wept from the moment the pediatrician told us about Penny’s high bilirubin level, until we got settled in at the hospital. But you gotta cut me some slack, because I tell you what — postpartum hormones are SO MUCH more intense than pregnancy hormones, man! And it really did seem like one of the worst possible things that could’ve happened at the time! Of course, in reality, it wasn’t that bad. Jaundice issues are apparently relatively common — especially in early babies, as well as in Asian babies, so double whammy — and I obviously will always 100% do whatever is best for her health and wellbeing.

So yeah, I definitely didn’t love having to be at the hospital again (I had already been going a bit stir-crazy the first time, waiting to be discharged after my delivery!) but the situation could have been much, much worse. This time we were in the pediatrics wing at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (versus Inova Fairfax, where I had delivered), where Sean and I were able to spend the night, and Penny was in-room with us the entire time. She spent almost all of her time under the phototherapy lights, looking like the coolest baby ever as she enjoyed basking in her baby tanning bed, only coming out for like 30-45 minutes every 2-3 hours so I could nurse her, and then back into the lightbox she went.

We were on a really strict feeding schedule with her as well, as the more milk she took in, the more she’d, y’know, expel (lol). That’s how bilirubin is really flushed out of their system — the light therapy helps break down the bilirubin to make it easier to expel. So in addition to nursing her every 2, 2.5 hours on the dot, I also had to pump after each nursing session so that we could supplement her with additional milk after each feeding.

Being on such a strict feeding schedule was a little extra exhausting, but I think it ended up being a good thing because it gave me something to do while we were there. Especially because I didn’t cope super well with being separated from her. “But… didn’t you just say she was in the same room as you?” you might ask. I know. It sounds so silly, because she was right there, but I still had a really hard time dealing with her having to stay in the isolette and not being able to just hold her whenever I wanted.

That said, she actually seemed to really enjoy being under the lights and only had one or two little fits while in there. I’m sure if she’d been crying and unhappy the whole time and I couldn’t comfort her, I’d have been emotionally scarred, so I’ll definitely take it. After all, it was hard enough for me to have to witness all the heel pokes she had to have (they check their bilirubin levels with a blood test, so they prick their heel to gather the sample and it’s soooo heartbreaking.)

But, all’s well that ends well, I suppose, and the phototherapy was a success! And while they had told us we might be there up to 3 days depending on how she responded to the treatment, we ended up only spending 1 night. So, finally, we were able to go back home again on Sunday and actually get around to doing the things we planned on doing the first time around — like introducing Harry & Daxter to their new baby sister!

 
Both dogs have been really great in dealing with her being here! Harry is totally nonplussed by the newest addition to the family, as I suspected he would be, and while Daxter (my already anxious pupper) has been just a little bit weirder than normal, he’s really taking it better than I was expecting. Maybe it’s because he loves how many new baby things there are for him to commandeer… sigh.

All your Boppies are belong to us!

Speaking of new stuff, Sean managed to surprise me by gifting me with an amazing glider! We came home from the hospital (the first time), and it had arrived, but I didn’t really get the chance to use it until our second homecoming, haha.

 
It was a perfect push present too, because I really wanted a glider but decided against registering for or purchasing one because our bedroom isn’t very big. But Sean was able to move some things around so Penny has a great little corner set up just for her now. And with how much I’ve had to continue nursing and pumping, having a glider right in our bedroom is a real godsend.

So, we were able to spend what was left of the long weekend getting settled back into the house, and then had another follow up with the pediatrician on Tuesday. Another heel poke, another bilirubin test. Her levels had gone back up by a bit, which her doctors told me would happen, but it looks like we’re out of the danger zone and on the up and up! However, because her numbers were still a smidgen higher than the pediatrician would’ve liked, we do have one more follow up appointment scheduled for today. Fingers crossed that things looks good and no more curveballs get thrown in our direction.

So yeah! Between the surprise extra hospital stay and daily doctor visits (I also had to go back to MY doctor on Wednesday to get checked out because my blood pressure started clocking in high again. It was nice and low at the hospital, of course, but now that I’m home… sigh. Anyway…) it’s no wonder this first week flew by! Not to mention just the whole figuring out how to be parents for the first time thing. That’s been pretty time-consuming in its own right, I gotta say.

Not that I’m complaining — honest. Penny is a pretty perfect baby, I say given my totally unbiased, impartial stance on the matter, and we are so, so lucky to have her here in the world with us! Even with all the medical stuff we’ve been dealing with, so far she’s a great sleeper, amazing nurser, and just the cutest baby ever in the history of the entire world (again, super unbiased source here.)

 
Sean has been so amazing throughout this entire experience too — I always knew he’d be a great dad given how amazing he is with my nieces, but he really has stepped up in taking care of both Penny and me during this time. He ensures I get to nap and rest during the day, is a waaaay better swaddler than I am, and takes over in the dead middle of the night when things are roughest for me — Penny’s definitely a nocturnal creature right now. I guess the silver lining of the whole jaundice-pumping-extra-feeding-thing is that Sean is able to give her a bottle during her 4 AM witching hour and let me sleep for a nice long stretch, which has made a WORLD of difference in how I feel upon waking up for the day.

 
Happy first week, Penelope!

Here’s wishfully hoping for a smooth-as-butter week 2. Mischief managed indeed.

14 Comments

  1. Sarah Maconsays:

    OMG She is a DOLL!!! Congrats & hope it’s smooth sailing from here!

  2. Cindy D.says:

    What an adorable little schmoopsie! Congratulations!!

  3. Larasays:

    Goodness, she is cute! I can’t wait to meet her! I legit laughed out loud at “All your Boppies are belong to us!”

    • Let’s all go ahead and guess what’s probably going to happen once I set up her activity mat on the floor too… ahahahaha

  4. Sarasays:

    Gretchen, Penny is just so gorgeous. I had my daughter Zoe last December (she’s almost 9 months… unbelievable!) and we went through the EXACT same situation with bilirubin levels, needing to spend the night at the hospital,and those pesky postpartum hormones while trying to be there for her. She also loved her “tanning bed,” which was a relief. You are such a champ, and I am in awe of your ability to tell your story so eloquently while probably not getting a ton of sleep. You go girl.

    • Thank you so much, Sara! It’s been comforting to have other folks come out and say they had to deal with the same issue for sure — makes me feel much more like it’s just a thing that happens vs. there’s something I did wrong, hahaha.

      Sleep definitely remains elusive but it’s been so, so worth it. As I’m sure you can more than relate with little Zoe, becoming a mom is pretty awesome!

  5. jodisays:

    Congrats & so impressed that you have had the time & energy to post and update and you look like you got the new parent thing down! Do you think you might share Penny’s birth story? If so, would love to hear all about it

  6. Meredith Crosbysays:

    We dealt with the exact same issue. Hayden was born at 36 weeks and was borderline with her bilirubin levels so instead of sending us home they sent us to a different hospital to treat immediately via ambulance. First car trip was an ambulance! I pumped and nursed non stop like you too…keep doing that as I credit that to my amazing supply!
    Connections, she is so cute! It only gets better!!

  7. Sarah Csays:

    Oh she is so sweet! What a doll. My 3rd baby is 5 months old and we are done but nothing prepares you for this first few early weeks! Man they are a doozy! You can do it. It will get better. Just don’t do what I did…let baby nap for 5 hrs during the daytime. My babies were confused about night and day for forever.

  8. Congratulations! She’s adorable.

  9. Katiesays:

    Congratulations!!! What a cutie. Wanted to chime in and affirm that your feelings were totally normal. My son was under the lights for 3 days and it was so hard. I also kept up the nurse-pump-supplement thing for a while and I think mamas who do that need some sort of medal. Well done!

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