Week 1 - Re-discovering newborn sleeping patterns

by Veerle

Newborn Isolde

Newborn Isolde

There she is, our third baby, named Isolde, born exactly one week before the due date, and I can’t say I’m sorry she came a bit early. This third time round, I had more trouble sleeping in the last weeks of pregnancy, having difficulty finding the right position and waking up way too early in the morning, unable to doze off again.

But back to Isolde. The day she was born started out as usual. I was awake very early and felt a first very light contraction an hour later. Nothing out of the ordinary, seeing as I had been having lots of pre-labour Braxton-Hicks cramps for over 5 weeks. Soon however, I felt these ones were there to stay, so after a call to our babysitter and to the hospital, off we were to go and have a baby…

It took Isolde till 3.30p.m. to arrive: 3290 g. and 49 cm, and as a special feature: lots of long black hair. This last birth took the longest of the three, ten hours. My other children were born after only 5 and 3 hours from first contraction to birth. I know, I’m a lucky girl…

Can an unborn or newborn baby display personality yet? I’m starting to think it must be possible. For instance, it took Isolde 19 weeks before I was really sure I felt her kicking and after that I felt her often enough, but always in moderation. Similarly, this is how she entered the world: quietly, taking her time, not budging until she was sort of cornered and had no other way bút out (waters broken by the midwife). Only then did the labour get ‘ugly’ for about an hour and a half until she was born. Also, she didn’t cry or scream at all, but just lay on me, making gentle groaning and mouth smacking noises. Ten minutes later she was quietly searching for the breast, which I gladly offered her and then she drank. I’m curious to find out if all this is a preview of the girl she’ll turn out to be later.

Isolde then has a very good first night, waking up just the one time, probably of cold – something wrong with the heating in our room – but once wrapped in a thick cotton cloth and with the heating turned up a bit, she sleeps on ‘till 6 a.m.

The second night, Isolde asks many feedings until one a.m. but then sleeps for 5 hours ‘till 6.30. The third and fourth nights are less successful with even more feedings, although I can’t complain: she lets me put her down easily after drinking, and that’s worth something! The fact that I didn’t suffer long during the delivery, makes me feel rather fit.

On day three the baby blues haven’t hit me (yet?) but if I’ve learnt anything from having had 2 babies before, it’s that you’re often more tired than you’re ready to admit. You even trick yourself into thinking it’s all fine, but then suddenly, you break down anyway, and it takes someone else to tell you: “no wonder, you háve just had a baby, or did you forget?”

They should inform new mothers about this more: as lovely as it all is, having a baby is exhausting, even when you think you’re recovering well.

Day 5: we’re going home. We have all been looking forward to this moment, but I know what’s coming for me: tears, and lots of them… In the past 4 days, I have walked no further than from my bed, to the bathroom, to Isoldes bed and back to mine. Walking all the way down to the car feels like running a marathon now. And there they are, the tears, inevitably. On the way home the newsreader kindly informs us that the oceans worldwide will be all fished out in 38 years time. Just what I need!

Luckily, Isolde is a doll during the whole moving experience and lets us eat before she wakes up again. I try to nap when she’s asleep, and the day passes quietly.

First night home… I have borrowed my sister’s pram basket. We have a cot in the living room (for her daytime naps) and a baby bed in our room, but after the hospital cot she’s now used to, the bed looks so huge and wide and I think she’ll probably feel more comfortable in the basket. It all goes well until after the second nighttime feed. After several attempts to put her back in the basket, we give up and she ends up falling asleep on me. I wake up the next morning with a sore neck and back… Same scenario the following night.

So the next night, we decide to put her in the bed anyway, tightly wrapped in a fleece blanket, and it works: yes!

We have made it through the first week: so far so good…

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