(Not sure how many of you really want to muddle through this whole story, but I felt the need to record it so here it is)
Nathalie, our midwife, had been a bit concerned about Donovan looking a little yellow. To add to this he was losing weight, which is normal, but he wasn't pooping or peeing as much as she'd like, either, and we weren't sure he was getting enough milk which can contribute to jaundice. So Wednesday she decided to take some blood and do a test to check his bilirubin levels. This happened to also be the day that my postpartum hormones decided to go way outta whack-- I'd already cried once that morning, worried about him not getting enough to eat and looking yellow. You can imagine what I felt like when Nathalie called me back at 2pm saying we'd need to take Donovan to the hospital for a minimum of 2 days to get treated.
I must say most of the staff at the hospital were great and very friendly. However the first nurse I got when we got settled into our room (tiny thing that we shared with another mother and her 9 month old daughter, just enough room for our 2 cribs and 2 chairs that could lean back for sleeping in) was not very helpful. She had me feed him before putting him under the blue light and when she weighed him she saw he'd only gotten about 5ml, and pretty much said we'd probably need to give him formula while he stayed there since he clearly wasn't getting enough from me. Luckily there was a lactation consultant on staff and she came to help me out with the overnight feedings, which got better- 20 to 30ml each which made me feel great, until the next nurse came in and informed me that even those amounts were still not good enough. It was at that point that they brought out the breast pump and had me try to feed him by breast at first, would measure how much he ate, and then would give him whatever else I could pump to go with it. This way he was able to at least get closer to 40-50ml per feeding. Meanwhile the poor guy was probably dehydrated, still not pooing or peeing much at all.
One of the biggest blessings of this whole thing was that, due either to the jaundice making him sleepy, or perhaps magical powers of the blue-light ("baby rave") bed, or simply nature knowing what's needed at that point in time, Donovan was incredibly calm and would just sleep and eat. I knew we could only take him out from under the blue light for feeding, and I was terrified I'd have to sit there and listen to him scream without being able to soothe him. Instead I was able to try to get some sleep inbetween pumping and feeding every 3 hours.
Mom stayed with me in the hospital the first night, which may have broken a house rule but no one seemed to care much. Zach and Mom then came and went during the day, trying to alternate sleep time. At the beginning of the 2nd night our 9-month old roomie started vomiting... I was already worried about Donovan catching something else while at the hospital, and now I was praying and praying that he wouldn't get some stomach bug on top of everything. I was quite happy when the hospital staff moved the girl pretty quickly to another room to protect Donovan.. and even happier still when we got to keep our room to ourselves, and they wheeled in a cot for me to sleep on.
Donovan responded pretty quickly to the light treatments-- they took him off completely in the middle of our 2nd night there. We still had to stay for another 12-24 hrs while they made sure his bilirubin levels didn't go back up. Friday afternoon the doctor came in to tell us we could go home... only to then come back half an hour later and change her mind, saying she wanted him to stay one more night just to be sure. I was devastated, though now I'm glad we stayed b/c it was this last night that he all of a sudden started eating well, something we would not have known for sure without having the scale to weigh him on before and after feedings. Knowing that he was eating his fill and getting what he needed from me without me having to pump lifted a HUGE weight and worry off my shoulders. We got to finally go home Saturday afternoon.
In all I think Donovan lost about 8-9% of his birthweight in his first few days, which is normal but had me worried anyway, but now he's been gaining weight back on incredibly fast. Babies are supposed to gain about an ounce a day starting on day 5 after birth-- well, on day 5 he gained nearly 3 oz, day 6 he gained 2 more, and yesterday he'd gained just over 3 more oz for a modified weight on 3.5kg (birthweight was 3.6kg). WOOT! I've been making sure to feed him every 3 hours at the most, which unfortunately often meant having to wake him up for feedings, but yesterday since he's been gaining so well Nathalie gave me permission to let him sleep up to 4 hrs at a stretch (up to 5 at night)... of course wouldn't you know that all afternoon he was waking up for feedings every 2-2.5 hrs. ; )