What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Plan to be unplanned

By Alice

Plan to be unplanned

Day four was ‘go home day’ and feeling confident about our progress so far (milk in, happy feeder, happy sleeper and no mastitis) I was excited that my husband had taken the day off work to drive us home. We live quite some distance from the hospital, an hour by car, so the thought of a steady drive home and all of us together for the afternoon was to be a lovely home welcoming. And time to get settled in.

We passed the doctor check, both Lily and I, paperwork completed by the midwife and all the flowers had been crammed in the car. As husband looked longingly at his new daughter in the crib, he said "why has she got blood coming from her ear?"

Fast forward an hour, we are in the nursery awaiting the whispering gaggle of medics to determine our fate. Fortunately it has been confirmed the blood was from a vomit, that just ran towards to ear. The bright colour was concerning and why it had happened two hours after her last feed. My nipples had a graze, but seemingly not large enough to pass that amount of blood through the milk. The paediatrician on the other hand felt that with our healthy looking baby (and expected observational results) the blood had come from me.

Another two hours and mindless page flicking of the glossy magazines, (my best efforts to distract myself were realising the life of a Kardashian was far more complicated than what I was currently dealing with) Lily was to be admitted to the nursery overnight for observations.

With more blood tests being done via a drip line in her arm (leaving her with a paddle strapped to her arm to keep the drip in place) the interim results, further observations and the medics experiences were all pointing towards a cracked nipple and a powerful sucking baby (relief and ouch!).

To be sure to be sure, I could only be grateful they were being diligent to our special new baby.  The home welcoming would have to be another day.

As we unpacked my bag from the car, I sought comfort that this could be one last night I can have my meals brought to me in bed, and someone watching my baby intently as I gathered some sleep. With fresh groceries in the car for my welcome home, and melted ice-cream dripping onto the car floor I began to think that life as a Kardashian, keeping up appearances, would be more stressful.

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Jan O'Connell

It can be surprising for parents to realise how quickly they can develop such strong feelings of love and protection for their newborn child, along with the high levels of stress and anxiety that can be experienced when it seems your child may have a serious health concern. Caring for a baby is more complex than can be imagined or planned for before the birth.

Lily would have looked so small and vulnerable to you as she underwent all of the tests and treatment required to understand what caused the presence of blood in her ear. Parents can feel similarly small and helpless in the environment of a hospital where other people appear to hold the information and control of the situation. Time can go so slowly as you wait for the news you long to hear - that all is well and you can go home. And yet it is also comforting to know that she was in the best possible place for her to be cared for.

Becoming a parent changes you as individuals as you embark on a rapid development path learning how to care for your child. It follows that your relationship with each other also changes. You and your partner require from each other a different level of support, understanding and communication to work through the ups and downs of family life.

There can be differences in how each of you witnessed or experienced the events of Lily’s health scare. It is beneficial to discuss these feelings with each other rather than rely on assumptions about what the other is feeling or thinking. The ability to do this regularly as your children grow assists in the development of effective communication between you, your understanding of each other’s perspective and feelings, and enables you to better support each other and strengthen your relationship for the long term. This, in turn, provides your child with a secure and loving environment in which to grow and develop.

Life changes so quickly when partners become parents, and expected plans frequently require readjustment. It is important to look after yourselves and each other in all aspects of your health and well-being. Parenting is not the easiest ‘job’ in the world, however it has also offers many occasions of great joy and happiness. 

Posted in:  Baby 0-4 weeks  A new reality  In this together  Every baby is different