I am very lucky to be where I am in my life. As a teacher, married to a teacher, I had the luxury of having over three months to spend with baby bug, instead of the usual six-weeks, before going back to work. Let me tell you that I needed that time. There is no way I would have been able to go back to work after just six-weeks. My body, my mind, and my baby bug would not have been able to do it.
Though I want to just say how wonderful and amazing my three months with baby bug were, the fact is that it was a very difficult time. It was beautiful, wonderful, awe-inspiring, amazing, but also very challenging.
She was born not knowing how to suck properly, so I had to work very hard to get her to breast feed (she even had difficulty eating from a bottle). Luckily, I was provided free weekly lactation counseling through Kaiser. I looked forward to these weekly visits. I would take baby bug to the small room in the basement at Kaiser Lakeview and she would somehow magically know how to suck properly and she always seemed peaceful while we were there. I wanted to transport that little room home so bad! It gave me peace of mind; they would weigh her before she nursed and then after, so I knew exactly how many ounces she was getting. I felt her getting stronger and stronger and becoming more confident in her sucking while I grew more confident in my ability to provide for her. I was over-joyed when she "graduated" from the clinic in September.
Okay, so the above post is a little simplified, but you get the point. The next big issue was the blood. Little baby bug scared the living daylights out of me one night when she spit up blood at two the morning. It took three months for us to figure out what was wrong. First we were told it was a milk allergy and I had to remove all dairy from my diet. When that didn't work, we were told it was a sensitivity to Ibuprofen, so I had to stop taking the medication they had given me for my back (and they put baby bug on some powerful medicine). When that didn't work, they started talking about putting a scope down her to look inside her tummy. Well, it wasn't the doctors that finally figured it out - near the end of the summer I started pumping more often to prepare for my return to work and one day I pumped red milk. The problem was me. We started joking and calling her our "little vampire" baby (we even considered dressing her as a bat for Halloween). After making sure that I didn't have some form of cancer, it was decided that I have something called "rusty pipe" syndrome. So, every now and then I produce milk that is mixed with blood. It isn't bad for baby bug, just a little difficult for her to digest, so she usually spits it up. However, the older she gets the less she spits up (or maybe I'm just not as rusty anymore :).
Even though the sucking and blood issues were difficult, they were put on the back burner by the lack of sleep. No one really prepares you for this. I was told that I would be sleep deprived, but no one told me that I would literally not sleep for weeks. In the hospital baby bug ate every two hours - and somehow in between feedings I was supposed to pump, eat, and sleep. Maybe this would have been easier if baby bug had been in my room, but she was three floors below me in the NICU. I thought it would get better when I got home, but it didn't . Anyone who says "sleep when the baby sleeps" is either a man or woman who has never had a baby - or who does not remember what it was like! I seriously wanted to slap anyone who said that to me. I got my first full nights sleep (meaning a full 6 hours) at the end of November during the Thanksgiving break. It is now January and I think I am still recovering from sleep deprivation.