Monday, 2 April 2012

Trusting Your Instincts

I haven't spoken to many people about the first few days after Josh was born. In some ways I guess I view them as a period that I'd rather forget but this post by pinkoddy inspired me to share. In the spirit of keeping a record of the first year of Josh's life, I guess this should be included.

As far as births can be straightforward, I guess Josh's was. The whole labour lasted about 22 hours and I got through most of it on gas and air. The midwives were surprised how quickly things progressed and, when I asked for pethidine, it was actually nearly time to push. Maybe having pethidine this late contributed to our issues later but we'll probably never know.

Josh entered the world at 5.31am on Monday 13th February 2012. We spent the rest of the day on one of the maternity wards but we were desperate to get home and, once we'd demonstrated that Josh was feeding well, we were discharged that evening. The first night was a blur. Josh woke every hour crying but didn't seem hungry when I offered to feed him.

In the morning, we had an appointment to go back and see the registrar for something else so we took him in. We were greeted by a midwife who started asking lots of questions in a disapproving tone including 'are you telling me your baby hasn't eaten since 1am?' and 'don't you have any experience with children?'. I hope, for her sake, that she was just having a bad day because some day she'll get worse than tears if she addresses stressed, over tired new parents like that. Needless to say it immediately made us feel like we had already failed our son, after less than 24 hours.

Since Josh was so lethargic she did a blood sugar test to find that he was hypoglycaemic and the two of us were immediately readmitted. He was given some kind of glucose gel and formula which got his blood sugar back to within normal limits. The consultant then told us that they would do 3 pre-feed blood sugar tests over the course of the day to make sure he was able to maintain a healthy level. They wanted to start the process by giving him 40ml of formula, only about 45mins after the last 40ml of formula they had given him. Understandably Josh wouldn't take it - he only had a tiny stomach! They then told me they were going to put a tube down his nose into his stomach to feed it to him. I was on my own at this point - Rob had gone to pick up an overnight bag for us. Everything about the situation felt wrong. My poor boy was full up and they wanted to force feed him which was just going to make him throw it back up. I should have listened to my instincts and told them no but I stupidly believed they must know what they're doing.

The nurse (who, to be fair, was just following orders) said she would take Josh to the nursery to do this and left me on my own in our room where I basically cried my eyes out for 10 minutes from tiredness and the thought of what we were putting Josh through. I felt like all of this was my fault. I should have realised he needed to feed earlier and brought him back during the night before things got that bad but I stupidly thought he would cry and wake to be fed. I shouldn't have pushed to go home the same day as the problem might not even have happened if we had stayed in the hospital.

I will be forever grateful to the breastfeeding specialist who happened to be at the main desk when the nurse was taking Josh to the nursery. I had spent a lot of time with her earlier in the day and, when the nurse explained the situation, the breastfeeding specialist went and confronted the consultant. I don't know what was said but Josh was returned without having been fed, thank goodness.

In total, Josh and I spent about 36 hours in hospital and things started to improve pretty quickly. He was more alert and feeding better and I was able to speak to a lot of the midwives and specialists about breastfeeding which was a huge help.

What I really learnt from the whole experience was that I should trust my instincts when it comes to Josh. We are his parents and we know him better than anyone...and sadly doctors don't always get it right.


  1. Wow, what a start to Motherhood. I remember when Willow was born, I so desperately wanted to do the RIGHT thing, however I had no idea what the RIGHT thing was. It was all new to me and me and my partner were like the blind, leading the blind. You also get so many conflicting opinions from friends, family and health professionals. It's hard to know which way to go. Someone once said to me, 'take the advice from people that you agree with. Everything else, just let it go and don't give it a second thought'. You're right though, learning to trust your own instincts helps you to become a more confident parent. Thanks for sharing this.x

    1. I agree! You just assume the doctors and midwives know best and it takes a while to realise that actually you are the best judge of what's right for your child. That's been a big awakening for me! X