Here is Part Two of my “Reuben Story”…
Reuben and I spent a wonderful hour of skin-to-skin time. My little boy crawled up my chest, mouthing and looking for food – which he found before too long, and attached perfectly in his very first attempt. He also peed all over me, which was very charming. Peter got the opportunity to cut the cord, and Heather showed me the ins and outs of my plancenta – which is something I would have loved to have seen after Mayana was born but hadn’t gotten the chance... Amazing by the way!!
Reuben looked exactly like Mayana did when she was placed on my chest. It was uncanny really, could have been the same baby! And so much for all of the doctor’s and sonographer’s predictions that this baby was going to be a lot bigger than his sister. Heather predicted straight away that he weighed less than six pounds, and when our skin-to-skin time was up, and he was finally placed on the scales, we discovered that she was in fact correct. Reuben weighed in at 2570g or 5lbs 11oz. He was 43cm long, with a head circumference of 33cm (exactly the same as his sister). “Ha!” I proclaimed, “Perhaps now the doctor’s will just believe me that I have small children and will leave me alone about Mayana!!”
My parents arrived at the hospital as we were nearly finishing skin to skin, and Reuben got to meet his Kami and Opa. They had cuddles after the weigh-in, and I filled Mum in on some of the details of the birth. We were all a bit in shock that it had all happened and that Reuben was here! I was supposed to be at work!!
I unfortunately had to have stitches again – I tore on the scar-line left from Mayana’s birth... having stitches is seriously is my least favourite part of birthing a baby. Thankfully that was all over fairly quickly, and after showering and getting Alexie to apply some make up, I felt human again, and ready to pose for photos with my beautiful son.
Reuben with Lala, whose hands he was born into!
We spent the afternoon just enjoying our baby, and anticipating the moment when Mayana arrived to meet her baby brother. A friend had dropped her off to my sister Bethanie at school, and she was bringing Mayana to the hospital. Once she had been dropped off, Bethanie rang me to let me know that no one had told her the big news, and it was my pleasure to be the one to announce it on the phone. “Mayana, guess what!?” I said. “Baby Two isn’t in my tummy anymore, he was born today and he’s ready for you to give him a big cuddle. You’re a big sister now!!”. Silence. Bethanie later told me that her mouth had dropped open and her face was clearly processing this new information. Eventually I asked her, “Mayana, what do you think honey?”
“It’s good!” she replied. Then she handed the phone to Bethanie and I heard her telling whoever was with her that Baby Two was here!
It was a long half hour waiting for them to arrive at the hospital, and the moment I had been waiting for didn’t disappoint. Mayana’s face was completely priceless. She sat in my lap with Reuben in her lap, kissing his head, examining his fingers (“They’re so tiny Mama!”), and saying over and over, “Awwww, he’s so cute!” She also spontaneously started singing to him:
I love you, a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck, and a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep
About you... about who? About YOU!
Seriously, most beautiful moment ever.
We showed Reuben off to my sister and her husband, and later in the afternoon two of my friends from work came to visit. I loved that people came to visit in hospital, it was so much fun to introduce our gorgeous boy to people, and it helped things to sink in for me. It was so surreal to me that it had all happened. I should have been at work that day! I literally felt like I was in a dream, and that any second I would wake up to the Thursday morning alarm telling me to get ready for school.
When we were taken to our room, I asked the midwife if I would be able to go home that evening. The hospital has a policy that the minimum time you have to stay is 6 hours, and I really wanted to go home. I know a lot of mums enjoy the time out in hospital, but I knew I would be more relaxed and happier at home, and I also was in one of the few share-rooms at the hospital (they were soooo busy while I was there), and I didn’t much fancy spending the night in a room with a stranger. Unfortunately we were told that the paediatricians were just about done for the day and didn’t have time to see me (a paed has to check your baby out before you’re allowed to leave) and that they would prefer me to stay a night anyway given that he was a little early and had a small birth weight. Peter stayed with us until about 9pm, and I settled in on my plastic bed hoping to get a bit of sleep.
Our night in hospital was long. Reuben slept impressively well, but everyone else’s baby cried. The midwives who were on night shift were so great. They arranged for me to do the Healthy Hearing Test, and other discharge requirements through the night, so that basically all we had to do was have the paed check to go home in the morning.
At 10am a nurse came and told me that the paediatricians would be there to see me within an hour. The hour passed, and then another, then another. My mum, sister, brother, Mayana and Peter arrived just after 11, and we all sat in my tiny part of our room and waited. I started to get kind of stir crazy. It was so hot in there, and dimly lit (I was on the side of the room with no window), and the bed was very uncomfortable. I just wanted to go home! The paediatrician finally arrived at 2.30pm, and was with us for about 10 minutes before he said we could go. Ugh. It was SUCH a relief to finally be on our way. I just wanted to be home with my new little family of four.
Reuben in his carseat, on the way home!
Being home has been great. We have all settled in really well, and are enjoying our new addition. My mum stayed for the first 5 days, and we really loved having her here. Reuben is doing so well.
We had midwives come out to us until day 5, and they were really great. On Sunday, the midwife was a bit concerned about Rueben’s weight loss. It is normal for babies to drop below their birth weight, but he had dropped more than the 10% that is considered okay. We had to go on a strict three-hourly feeding schedule, and top up with a 40mL bottle after each breastfeed. It was my choice whether we used expressed milk or formula. I initially wanted to use expressed, but the more I thought about it the more I remembered how much I had disliked expressing milk with Mayana, and decided that I didn’t need to give myself reasons to stress. We bought some sachet samples of formula, and some new bottles, and topped up feeds for 24 hours. It wasn’t ideal by any means, but I wanted to get through the situation without landing up with the level of stress and anxiety I had when we went through weight issues with Mayana. I asked our church family to be praying for us; I didn’t want to go through the same weight issues that I had with Mayana again. The next day, the midwife weighed Reuben again, and discovered that he had gained 200g, in 24 hours. I have no doubt that this was an answer to prayer.
Since then we have not had to do any formula feeds, and Reuben has been feeding like an absolute champion. By day 5, he was back up to his birth weight and we were out of the woods.
Reuben is a very contented baby, and has been sleeping really well. Even in his awake time he is very relaxed and placid, and only really cries when he has to have his nappy changed... he does not think much of being exposed.
His big sister completely adores him. I hear the words, “Mummy I love Reuben” about 26,000 times a day, and in true Mayana fashion she has already nicknamed him Reubs. (She shortens everyone’s name.. Kami becomes Kam, Papa becomes Pap, Lala becomes La – and my favourite – Opa has recently become Op). She loves to give him cuddles, and helped me give him bottles in our 24 hour feeding frenzy. The sweetness of that moment helped to make the problem a little more bearable.
It’s hard to believe that our little treasure has only been in our lives for less than two weeks. It feels like he has been part of us forever. We love getting to know him, and are enjoying getting to find out what ‘us’ means now that we are four.