Day 11 Thursday March 31st

Hugo is now past his birth weight (by 5 grams) which is exciting.  Today he weighed 2360g (5lb 3oz) which is an 80g weight gain in 2 days!  We are very proud of him.

Hugo is certainly becoming much more alert over the past two days.  He is certainly opening his eyes more often and looking around.  This alertness is mostly before feeds are given so Andrew gets to see him alert at night also.

Again today was a good feeding day.  He seems to be improving each day.  Sometimes it is a battle to keep him awake to enjoy a second side.  The past two days Hugo has spit up some milk after the feeds when I am there.  I was speaking to his nurse today and we decided that maybe he is getting more milk from me than we thought and is just a little overfull.  Thus we reduced the amount going into the tube after the breastfeed by 5mls and this seemed to help him.  This afternoon after the breastfeed and before the tube feed the nurse was able to aspirate some milk from his tummy proving to me that he is taking some milk.  I was most excited.

After talking to the nurse today I have realised that he will come home on breast and bottle and I will have to wean him off the bottle as he gets stronger and doesn’t tire so easily.  With Eva I stayed in hospital to make that transition but with Hugo we will be doing that at home (with a toddler to entertain).

Hugo was still on my chest and naked when Eva came to visit today so she got to see him get dressed and be wrapped up for sleeping.  I lifted him up to have a kiss with her and she reached her hands out to cuddle him as well as kiss him. I do hope that she continues to be so gentle with him!

Day 10 Wednesday March 31st

Hugo had a great day today with two good feeds from me and lots of cuddles from Daddy and I.  This morning when I changed him he had his eyes wide open and was nice and alert which made for a delightful change.

Hugo’s temperature control is so good now that he only needs his wrap no other blankets to keep him cosy.  What a difference it makes being born with some body fat unlike Eva who took ages to achieve body temperature control.

Eva visited with her favourite baby toy, monkey, today to show Hugo.  She does seem to be quite gentle with him which is promising. She is a bundle of energy when visiting of course but I do love it when she walks through the door and says “Where’s Hugo?”

I had a lovely big rest today during Eva’s sleep time.  We had a couple of visitors today and we have been blessed with people dropping off some yummy food for us.

Eva has seen me using the breast pump several times now and always wants to help press the buttons!  She seems to be happy that mummy is making milk for Hugo.  Luckily it doesn’t take too long each session as I am double pumping to reduce the time.

I am missing the rubbing of my belly at night to feel a little person moving inside but I am not missing the pubic pain or the carpel tunnel pain that have both disappeared after delivery.

Day 9 Tuesday March 29th

Life has pretty much settled into the routine of hospital visiting and sharing time between Hugo and Eva.  Andrew and I were discussing tonight what a difference it is having another child at home to share time and love with as well as our hospitalised child.  Andrew is feeling very stretched with the return to work yesterday.  Thankfully we are looking at a shorter time in hospital than with Eva.

Hugo’s weight went up to 2280g today which is a 40g increase.  Yeah!  His feeds will remain at 55ml/3 hours until the next weigh in.  He now has an aponea monitor which alarms if he misses any breaths.  The lead is attached to his stomach with tape.  It was resited today and he was very grumpy about the tape coming off.

All of this activity certainly made him nice and awake ready for a feed this morning.  He had his best breastfeeding attempt so far which was great.  This morning feed seems to improve each day.

Hugo started on a multivitamin today which was put down his tube at lunchtime.  Apparently it doesn’t taste very nice as he spat a bit of it up even though it didn’t go near his tastebuds.

At home at lunchtime it is hard not to look at the calendar and dream about when he might come home.  We just have to be patient and wait for an improved suck reflex and more energy in our little man.

Hugo did attach for a short while for the afternoon feed.  I tried the underarm or football hold which seemed to keep him more alert.  He just crashes on my chest and snoozes so deeply after any feeding attempts.

Today I surpassed the magical 750ml mark for my expressing so I am delighted to think that my milk supply is well on it’s way to being adequate.  We are now having to start freezing at home for future drinking.  Maybe Eva could have breastmilk on her cereal to use it up!

Day 8 Monday March 28th

I was sitting with Hugo in my arms today at 9.34am a week after his birth.  I could hardly believe that it has only been a week since meeting my little boy.  It has been a busy an interesting week.  At least I was awake to celebrate the moment this week!

We seemed to be in a good routine already where I visit Hugo for his 9.30 and 3.30 feeds to attempt some breast contact and Daddy visits for the 9.30pm feed to have a cuddle.  This is too late for Andrew really but he does like the long kangaroo care time.

Today Hugo seemed to latch and have a good session of sucking at the early feed.  I’m not convinced that he is receiving much milk but it’s mostly about the concept of working for his food.  We try to give him the tube feed when he is at the end of his sucking to simulate that sucking is filling his tummy.

This afternoon he was very uninterested.  Until he has the energy to suck more we are not going anywhere!  Hugo’s suck reflex is not fully developed yet so we will just have to wait and see what the next week brings.

Today when Eva arrived I had the screen around Hugo as I was using the breast pump at the bedside. Coming into the screened area seemed to provide Eva with less stimulation and we had a really good visit.  Today Hugo had socks on which Eva unceremoniously removed for him and made the discovery of some cute toes to count.  She repeatedly asked to kiss him and reached down to cuddle him too.  It was just gorgeous to see.

This afternoon Popa had his first cuddle which he and Hugo thoroughly enjoyed.  We are definitely the only people to practice Kangaroo Care ie skin to skin cuddling in the unit.  I have tried to encourage the couple next to me but they are too nervous to take their baby’s clothes off.  We will keep doing it as much as possible to help Hugo and ourselves.

Eva has been wrapping her dolls at home since she has seen Hugo being wrapped in the hospital.  It’s very cute!  We may have to work on her carrying style though.

Day 7 Sunday March 27th

Hugo had a very exciting day today with his first bath!  A very important Daddy and Hugo connecting time.

The start of the day was a hop onto the scales for a weight check. This is only done every second day which is better than the pressure of daily weighs.  Hugo lost weight and is down to 2240g.  This is a 35g loss which as Dr Laura would tell me in Bristol is just one big poo making the difference.

Hugo is doing a great job of maintaining his temperature without being padded with lots of clothes.  Thus it means we can bath him without worrying about him loosing too much heat.

Hugo really enjoyed his first bath.  He was just so serene and relaxed.  Daddy did a great job.  This bathing is certainly different to keeping a 2 year old from standing up and throwing bath toys! Hugo enjoyed swaying backward and forward in the water and loved having the face washer resting on his chest.

The nurse that was showing us how to prepare the bath kept addressing me about the bath until I told her that it was Daddy’s job to do the bath.  She seemed to be surprised I guess there are other Dads who aren’t as hands on as Andrew!

This afternoon Hugo met his Uncle Nic, who lives in Sydney, and had super special cuddles with him.  Hugo really snuggled in and they both enjoyed some quiet rest.

Eva also really enjoyed catching up with Uncle Nic who we hadn’t seen since Christmas.  I’m not sure at what point Eva is going to be willing to hand over the presents that she keeps opening on behalf of Hugo!

Day 6 Saturday March 26th

Andrew and I had a teary start to our day today with a conversation about how we both felt after we separated for my caesarean operation. It was good debriefing and grieving time for us as we both realised how scared we were.  At least my concerns on the day went away when I was put to sleep but Andrew had to wait hours to find out what happened to me.

Andrew delivered me to the hospital for 9am but I forgot to ring ahead and Hugo’s nappy change had been done.  I had to fight back tears as something so simple makes me sad during this emotional time.

I had a lovely visit with Hugo with him having a little suckle at the breast then we had a great kangaroo care cuddle while he received his feed via the tube.  I am not yet ahead of him with supply of milk but hopefully it will improve soon.

Nanny arrived from Canberra and came to visit with Eva and Andrew this morning. Nanny thought that he was just so little and looking very placid and peaceful.  Eva enjoyed poking Hugo and saying hello.

A midwife came to visit today as it was my first day at home.  She was delightful and was mostly interested in how my expressing was going. The midwife said that I need to aim for 750ml/24 hours with 8 expressions if I want to establish a good supply.  I have a way to go yet!

Eva was very cute and brought the midwife the photo of Hugo that I have next to my pump to show off her brother.  She checked my wound and found that one area was a bit wet so suggested a low hair dryer after a shower to dry it off!

Nanny and Auntie Emma visited this afternoon and had their first cuddles.

Andrew and Eva busily worked on tidying the house this afternoon so it looks a bit less like total chaos and we all feel a little more in control.  We are delighted to have Nanny here to help us.  We would be lost without our parents at this time.  Lucky we came home from the UK!

Day 5 Friday 25th March

What a great day today!  I am home and Hugo is in the Birralee Special Care Nursery at a hospital just a five minute drive away.  This is as opposed to the 20-30 minute commute for our birth hospital.  This move is going to make the logistics of the next few weeks much easier.

This morning I was up early to get all of my things ready.  Luckily Andrew had already taken a fair bit last night.  It’s amazing how much I could accumulate in a short time in anticipation of being here for 3-4 weeks to await the birth of the my baby.

I had a final check with the medical team who were happy with me and the midwives did their last minute paperwork.  Andrew arrived by 9 when we received a call to say that Hugo would definitely be transported this morning.  Andrew had the car packed and we were down to see Hugo by 9.30.

I had a last cuddle with him on my chest where he had a milk feed via tube to keep his tummy full and happy for the ride.  Just after 10 the transport team of a nurse and driver arrived with an incubator.  After checking all the paperwork the nurse took Hugo and settled him on his tummy (the only time we have seen him like that) and strapped him in with a safety net.  He did look very content in his warm box.  Andrew followed him to the ambulance to see him get loaded in.  Hugo does have this as a unique event as Eva was never went in a transport incubator.

I went to see the lactation consultant who checked my expressing equipment so that I felt confident that I could get my milk supply going.  Straight after we headed off to visit our little boy in his new home.

Hugo was beautifully settled when we arrived.  The unit is small with about 12 bedspaces and only caters for babies from 33 weeks onwards with no breathing difficulties.  Basically it is a fat farm for putting weight on these lower risk premies.  Hugo’s weight on arrival was 2270g the same as 2 days ago but still below his birth weight.

The staff here are very friendly and are more than happy to accommodate all of our preferences and requests.  There is a pumping/breastfeeding room just off the unit and there is lovely soothing music playing all the time.

Andrew had a lovely cuddle this afternoon while I spent an hour at the pharmacy collecting my medications.  Of course this was after I was already feeling pain.  Andrew had suggested that we collect the tablets at this morning’s  hospital but I was anxious to get to Hugo.  The poor pharmacist had a slightly teary me by the time they were actually dispensed.

Gran, Pop and Eva came in to visit and Gran had her first cuddle of Hugo.  Hugo didn’t have any breast contact today as the transport was a big enough event for today.

I was very happy to get home at the end of the day, it had ended up long and tiring.  I hadn’t realised how often I was catching some rest at the hospital.  Eva was very cuddly after tea time and enjoyed having mummy to watch her bath, getting dressed and book time.

Poor Andrew had to go and collect my hired breast pump from a lady that just wanted to have bizarre conversations.  Andrew knew how to use the pump more efficiently than the lady.   He survived and now I have a hospital grade pump at home.

All in all we are just so pleased to be home together.  Eva and Andrew have been so well looked after by Gran and Popa this past week and we are all very thankful for that but there’s nothing like home.

Day 4 Thursday March 24th

Today Hugo moved from bed 4 in NICU to bed 50 in the Special Care Nursery which is a big jump in one day!  Now he is in the right spot to have the appropriate level of care and a more needy baby can have his NICU bed.

This means no more monitoring of his vital signs on a big screen just an oxygen saturation monitor that only alarms occasionally usually when he is wriggling.  The IV fluids ceased overnight so his IV line was out by 10am which is great.

Today Hugo’s feeds will progress up to 35ml every 3 hours putting a little production pressure on me but hopefully some extra weight on him.  On more progress Hugo’s nappies have moved past the awful meconium poos to lovely breast milk poos which are much easier to clean up!  It’s all progress in the right direction.

The move to the other hospital is certainly in full swing.  The senior nurses and the discharge coordinator are keen to move Hugo and have been busy making phone calls.  At this stage there is a bed for him and the newborn transport team have been booked.  Of course this all needs to be finalised in the morning.

It seems that I will be discharged tomorrow as will Hugo but sadly not to home like me.  Initially I was hoping to stay until Saturday but mostly just to be close to Hugo.  Right now I’m feeling sad to be away from Eva and be out of control with her day-to-day activities but soon I’m going to be away from Hugo which is also sad.  I just can’t win for the next month or so.

I am feeling much better today with most of the strong pain relief out of my system I have a slightly clearer head.  I have walked to see Hugo today instead of using a wheelchair so I am a little more tired tonight.

Hugo suckled at the breast twice today which is all that we are aiming for at the moment.  He has breast contact while his feed is being put down the nasogastric tube in order for him to start associating the feeling of a full tummy with the notion of being at the breast.

I moved from hand expressing to using a hospital grade breast pump overnight as I was getting quite engorged and the relief was lovely.  It’s exciting that my milk has arrived for Hugo.

Today Andrew made the most of his Hugo time and spent large chunks of the day with Hugo on his chest in Kangaroo Care.  During this time the staff regularly commented how lovely it was to see a Dad so dedicated to Kangaroo Care.  It seems it’s not as popular here as it was in Bristol which makes Andrew and I very sad as it was such a lifeline for us in the early days with Eva.

A staff member brought an Antenatal couple for a tour of the unit and she later told me that the Dad was still talking about Andrew cuddling his baby when she finished the tour.  She said that she was delighted to have Andrew as such a great example.

Eva came for a visit while Daddy was cuddling so Daddy had his two cherubs in his arms.  Eva then got to watch Hugo be put back into bed and have a nappy change.  She thought that this was very interesting.  Eva loves to stand on a chair next to the cot to check Hugo out.  It’s lovely to see her interact with him.  Today Hugo did seem to be looking in her direction.

Now we just have to wait until the morning to see if the transport is sorted for Hugo.  Andrew has packed up a most of my belongings to try to make the morning easier.  I’m glad that all the changes are happening tomorrow at the same time. Today has been a very teary day for me.  Poor Andrew has had to deal with lots of emotions as these breast feeding hormones course through my body.  I am lucky that he has been here lots today and given me lots of cuddles.

Day 3 Wednesday 23rd March

Our little Hugo is going so well today he really is undeserving of his current bed in the NICU and is due to move to the Special Care Nursery when a space becomes available there.

Hugo’s feeds started at 10ml every 3 hours today with gradual increases he has finished the day at 22ml per feed.  Yeah for good eating but I was feeling the pressure to produce. The staff have had to top up feed volumes with formula which is a bit sad but it’s all about him eating and growing.  Hopefully I will catch up to him with production soon.

Hugo was weighed for the first time since birth today and was 2270g which is just an 85g loss which isn’t much at all.  It’s nice not to feel obsessed with weight gain when he starts over 2kg.

Hugo has had the all clear from the blood cultures taken on his birth day.  Meaning he has no signs of bugs growing thus his IV antibiotics have ceased.  As his feed volumes increase the volume of IV fluid given to him each hour to assist with hydration can reduce.  At the end of the day he was just on 2.4 ml/hour and this will cease overnight. That means he no longer needs the IV line in his hand.

This morning Hugo moved from a temperature controlled humidicrib to an open cot as he is able to maintain his temperature.  To be in the cot he has clothes and a hat on, is wrapped up like a burrito and has a big blanket on.  As time goes on he will get better at keeping his own warmth but for now we swaddle him lots so he can concentrate on growing.

The highlight of today of course was Eva meeting Hugo for the first time. Eva travelled with me on the wheelchair and we had to wait outside for Daddy to check that all was calm in NICU.  We were wondering what effect walking into a NICU would have on her.  Would she remember the alarms, the smells?  The nurse last night said that most toddlers just take it all in their stride and just think that this is where all babies are after birth!  Eva didn’t seem to be bothered by the surrounds at all which is great.

Daddy pushed us straight down to Hugo’s bed which luckily is in the corner and quite spacious.  Eva sat with me as we looked into Hugo’s cot and saw the baby.  She was quickly giggling at the baby as his did little moves and soon wanted to stand up and explore further with some pokes and gentle touches.

Eva gave Hugo the present that she and Daddy had picked out this morning at the shops (some clothes).  Hugo had a present waiting for Eva which consisted of a new bath toy and some playdough.  He was clever to know that she loves playdough!

Hugo was due for a feed so he came out into my arms to have some breast contact while the feed was put down his tube.  Eva giggled at the milk coming out and was happy to touch Hugo at a closer distance than the cot.

Overall I think that the first meeting went beautifully although I don’t think that Hugo being in hospital for a while is quite making Eva realise that he is her brother and he’s here to stay!

We spent some time this afternoon reading through the lovely messages in response to Hugo’s arrival.  We are so grateful to everyone for their love and support.  It means so much to us to know that Hugo is being uplifted by your prayers and thoughts.

I was becoming concerned during the day about my lack of milk production especially as Hugo’s consumption has increased. Of course, as Andrew was trying to reassure me, by 7pm tonight I could feel my milk coming in and have begun to relax.  I had a fantastic midwife this afternoon who did the hand expressing for me and rejoiced with me as the volumes increased.

Tonight I am sharing a room with an antenatal patient in for overnight assessment which means that there is no baby to wake up and be fed.  I am looking forward to a peaceful sleep.  As she was having her baby’s heartbeat checked by doppler this afternoon I did have a fleeting thought that no one had checked my baby today.  Oops I guess I forgot that my baby is safely on the outside already!

Apparently Hugo is looking very similar to his Daddy as a newborn when photos were compared at the Hodges household last night.  Andrew was also born at 33 weeks gestation and had the same honey brown hair (there may be a very slight trace of red).

Tonight, while I was visiting Hugo, the nurse suggested that we could ask for Hugo to be transferred to hospital closer to us which has the appropriate level of care.  This is an exciting thought for us as it would make it a 5 minute commute as opposed to 20-30 minute commute for visiting.  The nurse reassured me that the level of care is great and we should consider it.  Of course a lot depends on the availability of a bed at the other hospital so it could take up to a week for any transfer.  Something to find out about tomorrow.

Day 2 Tuesday March 22nd

Andrew visited Hugo as his first stop in the hospital this morning.  Apparently he looked just so cute and cuddly.

Overnight I was busy drinking iced water to try to relieve my dry mouth and just waking to observations and to press my pain relief button.  Also I did some more expressing so sent down my liquid gold to Hugo.

The anesthetic team came to review me and took down the morphine pain relief infusion, which was making me very drowsy. I have moved onto tablets for pain relief.

My big task for today was getting upright and having a shower.  It seemed to take all morning for this to happen with lots of preparation.  I was feeling very dizzy and drowsy but was desperate to get upright.  Nothing could have felt better than hot water running over my back and my husband washing my hair.  I am glad that I was seated and had someone with me though.

My biggest problem is still drowsiness.  My haemoglobin level has come back average despite a blood loss of 1.2l in theatre and whatever I lost in the bleed beforehand.  So it doesn’t seem to be anaemia causing the drowsiness just the exhaustion and the intense pain relief.

It was midday before I made it down to see Hugo, 24 hours after first meeting him.  As soon as I arrived the nurses wanted me to have a cuddle.  Hugo was still in a humidicrib at this stage with wires for heartrate, breathing and oxygen levels and an iv line in place.  As it was close to feed time the nurse encouraged me to put him straight near the breast to see what suck reflex he had.  Hugo sucked away like a champ, which was very exciting.  He even did a little burp.  The feed due at this time (8ml) was given into his mouth by syringe.   I had such a beautiful cuddle and introduction to my boy and was just so happy.  There was just soft honey brown hair to kiss and feel no CPAP hats.  Just a beautiful chubby face to gaze upon, no tubes for breathing.  There were no alarms to worry about, no heartrate drops to concern us.  I was very tired and dozing during my cuddle.  I also changed my first nappy.  Hugo saved a lovely meconium one for me. 

We went back another couple of times during the day and Daddy got his first cuddle in the evening.  By this stage it was clear that Hugo didn’t belong in the NICU and was very stable.  We were conscious of the very small and unwell babies around us.

By this stage Hugo had a Nasogastric Tube inserted through his nose so that he could enjoy larger volumes of milk per feed.  Sadly we gave consent for Hugo to have formula top ups as my milk supply of colostrum wasn’t getting to the volumes that he needed.  Of course I was sad and worried about my supply in my hormonal state it was a big concern to me.

The next step is Hugo getting better at stabilising his temperature and being able to maintain his temperature in an open cot.  Then he will move down to the special care nursery to start his fat farm growth program.  All he needs to do then is grow!