The First Month
This first month has been an emotional roller coaster with the highest highs of having the most amazing baby boy and the lowest lows of different minor health issues. We are so grateful and thankful that we are all healthy and happy as we navigate this road as a new family of five.
Liam was born on October 8th, 8 days early. (Read his birth story) He was born exactly 3kg including the little clip on his belly button. I breastfed him during our standard 5 days in the hospital. His weight from day 2 until day 5 in the hospital was 2.8kg. The midwife came to our house the day after we left the hospital, day 6, and he was still 2.8kg. When the midwife came on day 12 he was down to 2.6kg. That is when she started to worry.
I know babies lose weight after birth, up to 10% of their birth weight. So I wasn’t worried and I knew I was breastfeeding just like I did with the girls, so I felt good about his first week. But I guess when a baby loses more than 10% of their body weight, and doesn’t quickly reach their birth weight, it’s cause for a lot of concern from doctors, pediatricians, and midwives. I didn’t notice if the girls also had this issue as in the USA there is no aftercare. With the girls I left the hospital within a day both times and never checked their weight after we left the hospital.
On my third day in the hospital I told my husband I really needed a hot bath. There was no bath in the hospital so I took a really long hot shower. My back and spine felt so achy and I was freezing cold. After my hot shower I was shivering and put on sweats and got in bed. I called the nurse and told her my back ache symptoms and she brought me a heat pack. Little did I know that this was the chills part of mastitis and that I already have a high fever. That is how mastitis started for me.
The third day, when my milk came in, I started getting severe chills and then a sweaty fever. Each would last a few hours. I finally asked the nurse to take my temperature and it was 102F. I was put on fever reducing medicine and pain medicine, but they thought my breasts were fine and did not diagnose my mastitis then.
On the 5th day in the hospital my gynecologist came very early in the morning and asked if I wanted to stay a day longer due to my fever. I said no. He said that if I still had a fever later that day that we needed to call him for antibiotics. So at 11am we headed out of the hospital after 5 days. I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. When we got home I got in bed to warm up. My husband took my temperature at 102F again. The fever medicine was not doing a thing to lower my fever. So we called the front desk and they said to come right back to the hospital. Ugh.
We arrived back at the hospital and I was examined and then diagnosed with mastitis. I was put on antibiotics with the approval of my gynecologist. My midwife arrived for the first time the next morning. I had only had one of the antibiotic pills at that point. She noticed a red circle on my breast and said that is the indicator of mastitis. But that only came days after my fever and chills. Tuesday my fever started, Thursday night I was put on antibiotics, and only Friday morning the red spot appeared on my breast.
My midwife asked how I was doing as mastitis can make you really emotional. But I really felt fine. So after she left we went into town as I had been cooped up in the hospital for 5 days and needed some fresh air and to get back to the things I loved. We lasted an hour walking around town and then I started to get the fever symptoms again and we went home. I stayed in bed and cried. I sent my mom and aunt a crazy email about how I thought I would never get better. But then, after my second antibiotic pill, I amazingly started feeling back to normal. So yes, I did get really emotional after the mastitis on day 4 of my fever and mastitis symptoms. I think that was the climax of the illness and then it broke, like a fever does.
I think that the mastitis complicated my breastfeeding journey. Medela was kind enough to have a breastfeeding consultant call me and walk me through how to keep breastfeeding after mastitis. It was great to talk with someone with so much knowledge. They sent over a great Freestyle pump which I am using a few times a day still.
I am not good at breastfeeding. It is not a blissful, pleasurable journey for me. I think it is very important and if I can do it, I should do it. My girls tore my nipples to bits. I breastfed them exclusively for the first three months I was on maternity leave. After that I pumped at work and when needed by daycare, gave a few follow-up formula bottles. I breastfed both girls for just under a year. But the bleeding and cracked nipples were terribly painful. The scar tissue and battle wounds of breastfeeding are clearly visible.
My midwife arrived her first day at our house for Liam’s first visit and she couldn’t believe I breastfed both girls. I am using nipple shields from Medela for the first time with Liam. It really takes the horrible pain of breastfeeding away for me. She also had me try a laser pen, which my friends swear by, but it didn’t do anything for me. I think it was supposed to heal and repair the bloody and cracked nipples. She gave me Fenugreek which I take 6 pills, 3 times a day to increase my milk supply.
One solution that has really been working is Hydrosorb. It is a square gel bandaid type thing that feels like an ice pack when I put it on, but it miraculously heals my nipples in between feedings. She says it’s for moist wound treatment post surgery, but it’s really working well for me.
In addition to midwife aftercare being covered by basic insurance in Switzerland, so is a breastfeeding consultant appointment. My midwife comes twice a week and during her last visit she scheduled an appointment for me with the consultant in her practice. I went this morning and had a wonderful time chatting all about my breastfeeding journey struggles.
The biggest miracle from my appointment today was Silverette. If you struggle with cracked, bleeding, sore nipples from breastfeeding, this is the answer, at least for me. After trying the laser pen, Hydrosorb (amazing), and a ton of other things to heal my nipples, within an hour of using Silverette, my nipples were like brand new. It was amazing. I have tried literally everything. And the cool part about these are that they are just silver cups that cover and heal your nipple. The Hydrosorb is a close second as it also healed the nipples, but it was very costly as they have to be replaced every 48 hours and they were expensive to keep replacing. The Silverette cups are my top recommendation after only a few hours of wearing them today. They were 62 francs for two of them, but the Hydrosorb were about 5 franc per gel pack and I needed two every 48 hours. So one time paying 62 francs seems like a good deal. And I’m loving them already!
I highly recommend the breastfeeding consultant visit as it is covered by insurance, even if it is your second or third child. For me, breastfeeding is a total struggle each and every time. I can use all the advice and help I can get. And I’m so glad I went as these Silverette things are fantastic! I’m going to tell everyone about them. I guess silver is a great healer, who knew?
In Zürich the first time a newborn baby sees the pediatrician outside of the delivery hospital is at the one month check up. Liam didn’t get any vaccines at that appointment. He had a hip scan to see if his hips were correctly aligned and they were. They also weighed him. He was 3kg at that one month appointment, putting him at 0% on the growth chart and right at his birth weight. The pediatrician was very concerned and asked me to return to weigh him 24 hours later.
So we came back 24 hours later and the pediatrician was like a completely different person. I have been taking the girls to her for 3 years now and she has always been kind and pleasant. But this time, when I asked if I could change him before putting him on the scale she just told me to put him on the scale. She was so blunt and harsh I was taken aback. I put him on the scale. The scale said he weighed 2.8kg. This was absolutely impossible. I had fed him 7 bottles of formula as well as breastfed the last 24 hours. I asked her to weigh him again. She refused. She said that her scale is accurate. I told her it clearly is not accurate.
She told me we needed to go immediately to the closest public hospital with a baby unit. By then naked Liam was screaming because all babies cry when they are naked, cold, and being weighed. The pediatrician asked me very pointedly if he was hungry. Um, of course he’s hungry. He’s a cold, naked, newborn baby. So I called my husband while still in her office and told him I was coming to pick him up from work and we were going to the hospital. We picked up my daughter who was walking home from school and all went to get Liam checked out at the hospital.
Triemli Hospital was absolutely amazing. We were so stressed out and frazzled as we couldn’t believe we were sent to the hospital with our baby. Every single doctor and nurse were absolutely incredible. The nurses met us at the door, we handed them his growth chart. They took us to a room and 4 nurses ran all sorts of tests on him under a heating lamp. He was hooked up to a heart monitor and blood pressure monitor.
They weighed him and he was 3.2kg. The whole reason we were there was due to his weight being 2.8kg at the pediatrician. So they took him to another scale and weighed him again at 3.2kg. A young doctor came in and gave Liam a full body check up. She said we would need to stay in the hospital overnight to see how he feeds and how much he weighs before and after each feeding. I was so shocked. We said he was 3.2kg. But the doctor said that at 4 weeks a baby should be at their birth weight and well beyond.
Then the head doctor came in and basically just told us to keep breastfeeding him, watch for lots of wet diapers a day, and if he loses any weight or doesn’t wet his diapers, to come back in immediately. If I wasn’t so anxiety ridden by this point I would have been so thrilled to be released from the hospital. But I was so light headed and scared and I think all my breast milk left my body while we endured this scary time.
I’m so grateful and thankful for the incredible doctors and nurses at the hospital. They were amazing and so attentive. But the stress of that day has really stayed with me. I’ve talked to my friends and my midwife about what to do and I’m still not sure. I’m upset that my pediatrician was very harsh that day and didn’t apologize for her obviously faulty scale. But I’m thankful people are worried enough to get a second opinion and make sure our baby is thriving and not just surviving. I know he is not gaining weight like he should be, but we are breastfeeding and formula feeding and having two midwife appointments a week. We are really doing everything we can. And he is such a happy boy.
So do I change pediatricians? Or should I just be thankful that a doctor took the time to be concerned and referred us to more doctors to make sure he is doing well? The more I think about it, the more I’m really grateful that she sent us to the hospital. Our sweet little boy is doing well and it was nice to have two doctors tell us that at the hospital. But if I was a first time mom or suffering from any type of anxiety or depression I can’t imagine what I would have been like. It was incredibly stressful even though I knew he was fine.
So I bled for a very long time compared to with my girls. It was about 4 full weeks. My midwife said the average is 21 days of bleeding after birth. I had one issue down there after the birth. Something was so itchy at night. I tried hot cloths, coconut oil, and showering twice a day. I thought I had a yeast infection. I was so irritated with all the bleeding and couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
So I looked it up on the internet one night while feeding and found that dryness is common while breastfeeding. So strange as I felt like it was basically bloody. So after telling my gynecologist that I needed unnecessary medicine for a yeast infection I didn’t have, I then told him I thought I had dryness. So he gave me a cream to use for the dryness. Instantly I was better. My skin had cracked and the cream was a lifesaver. I had no idea it could be dry down there. So if you are struggling after the birth of your baby, get some cream. I’m using Vagisan here in Switzerland.
Liam is absolutely wonderful. He’s so loved by our family and our girls are absolutely amazing with him. The girls love waking up and running to our room to see him each morning. They love to feed him and pick out his clothes for the day. Heike even changed her first poo diaper for him today. Ha! They are huge helpers and they are so in love with their brother. He is sweet, quiet, and just likes to be fed and have a dry diaper so far.
I thought I was pretty experienced with being a mom and how these first few weeks go. But I have learned so much in the last month and yet been so much more relaxed this time around. I have two amazing helpers in my daughters, I’m not working right now, and we don’t have to struggle with shuttling our kids to daycare and driving them everywhere. Even with these various medical issues that have been arising, it is all a lot more laid back and it feels right this time around. For me. For our family. Everything feels complete now.