We’re home! And it’s taken us longer than expected to get to this point. Long story short,

Jaundice = sleepy baby

Sleepy baby = poor feeding

Poor feeding = >10% weight loss

However,

Jaundice = Eating heaps = >10% weight loss

Which meant Mommy and Daddy about went crazy, trying to get as much breast milk stuffed into a stomach the size of a child’s playground marble. Which resulted in a meltdown at one point when you’re trying to fight the Zzzz monster that comes with the jaundice. But we can talk about that in another post.

Our long hospital stay coincided with a mass exodus of excited new moms and dads, which meant that the Executive Suite got freed up. So we went from

Small ward N12
Your typical hospital ward. Tony's mattress is set up on the left of my bed.

to

Hello Luxury
Double bed! Couches! Space!
Other side of room
TWO couches! And more space! For stuff!
Microwave and fridge
Our own microwave oven! And bar fridge!
The other side of the room
Change table! Sink! Ensuite!
Bathtub
Huge bathtub! With no safety railings! So you can slip and fall! Or depend on a midwife to help you in and out when your pelvic bone is shot!
Couch of no return
The Couch of No Return. Like quicksand, you can sink in... but you may never get out again.

So yes, our stay was rather unique in that we’d managed to experience both types of wards for a week in Private Maternity.

Along the way, I’d compiled a list of Things I Now Know. So yes, if you’re about to pop one out your fanny some time soon, here’s a list of useful tips I’d cobbled together along the way.

Night light

Hospital wards have lighting that’s a bit all or nothing. You either get drenched in wattage, or you’re stumbling about in the dark – which is always fun when you’re trying to get your newborn to latch at 3:15am. Tip? Perhaps bring your own night light to plug in. One that gives you a happy medium.

Ear plugs

Bring your ear plugs for both you and your partner, especially if he’s staying overnight. Because you’re both going to be bone-tired, which means you both might snore. And even if you don’t, your neighbours next door might. Or the village might turn up to visit the popular newborn down the corridor. Whatever. The doors are pretty good with the sound proofing, but they completely ruin it by having gaps in the walls where you share a window with the next ward. The hospital can supply ear plugs, but it’s one size fits all.

Bring your own pillows

Because ours went walkabout, so between Tony and I, we had only one provided by the hospital. Which proved a logistical challenge since Tony was set up on a mattress on the floor beside my bed. Thankfully, I’d brought two along for the labour. But think about the kind of pillow you’re going to need when you’re staying up to breastfeed. And believe me – newborns take a while over dinner.

Nappy wipes

The hospital doesn’t supply them, so bring your own. If not, you can always use a wet face wash – which means you’ve gotta keep a ready stash of hospital-issue face cloths at bay in your room. I’m glad I brought my nappy wipes, because it was at least one less item to think about when we were trying to gently-but-efficiently scrub sticky meconium in 2.58 seconds flat while our newborn screamed blue murder. And then peed all over Daddy in between cloth nappies.

Books

Don’t bother. You are so not going to have the time to read. I don’t know WHAT I was thinking. Oh that’s right – I wasn’t.

Maternity pads

Unless you’re quite happy to use the hospital grade one – which is uber soft and absorbent but doesn’t do your clothes any favours unless you wear all five at once – BYO. The thicker, the better because you won’t know whether you’re coming out with stitches, piles or worse. The operating word here is Cushion. Yes. This tip is gruesome. But helpful.

Water bottle 

Breastfeeding is thirsty, thirsty business. Sure they offer you a pitcher and a glass to help yourself, but when you’re a one-arm bandit at 3 in the morning, faffing around with pitchers and glasses in the dark gets old pretty quick. Besides – the glasses they offer are teeny-tiny, and you’ll want to down 200ml in one gulp alone. Water bottle, my friend. Slurp-friendly.

Food

Those maternity check lists go on and on about food for the partner and you during labour. But being on tap for baby at all odd hours of the day means your food clock goes silly as well. Be prepared for hunger attacks during times when the hospital’s Food Services have come and gone. If you have a supportive partner who can rummage together a ham and cheese toasty for you at 3:47am, great. If not…

BYO breast pump

Tony and I brought our own breast pump along because we wanted to learn how to use the pump while we were surrounded by wise midwives. Except would you believe they didn’t have/didn’t want to supply sterilisation equipment? So yes – it’s hospital-grade Medela or broke. Thankfully, my breast pump turned out to be easy enough to work out once we got home. But yeah, you might want to leave yours behind.

Take cover

If you know or suspect that you’re going to have visitors drop by, you might want to bring along either a shawl or a feeding cover. Because you’ll never know when Bub wants a breast feed, right when visitors drop by for a quick surprise visit. Also, shawls are great for covering the shoulders when it gets nippy. And hospital rooms can get nippy.

Baby clothes 

If you end up staying in the hospital for the best part of a week, you might want to dress your new kid in actual clothes – rather than a bit of cloth with strings attached, which is what the miniature hospital gowns are in essence. About as drafty as a medieval castle in the Scottish Highlands, and fiddly as heck.

Know thy bed options

If you’re ever given the option for bedrooms in private maternity, perhaps consider these pros and cons.

Single bed – pro: 
Usually a bona fide hospital bed, which means fancy buttons for messing around with bed height and elevation. VERY useful when you are sore, and/or your pelvic bone has decided to get shifty and/or a myriad other reasons that basically HURT. LIKE. THE. DICKENS. when you so much as move a centimetre to get out of bed to feed your new offspring. Now it’s all, “Come bring the baby to me.” (*bzzzt* adjust bed height and boob-to-mouth distance). Handy.

Single bed – con:
Your partner will end up sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Which means if you need to wake him up in the middle of the night, you might need an assortment of poking devices or soft toys to fling in his general direction. Which by NO means is a guarantee of waking him up anyway.

Double bedroom – pro:
Comes with a double bed. Which is lovely for cuddle times, especially when you’re still basking in the newfound admiration your partner has for you after witnessing Birth in all its gory.

Double bedroom – con:
See Single bed – pro.

Not a mellow yellow

Ah. This is an extra special one, and because I’m now writing this bit past 30 June, what I’m about to point out has become a non-issue. Essentially, Calvary Hospital has renovated its postnatal wards, so if all has gone to plan, Executive Suite that Tony and I had the privilege of staying in will no longer be in commission now. But this tip might still hold true.

Tony was just changing Arddun’s diaper one sunny winter afternoon, when both of us heard an alarm go off. My first thought was that the hospital was conducting a fire drill. Which was a little odd, but hey – health and safety is important in a hospital and maybe our timing just happened to be impeccable. That train of thought got derailed the moment a midwife burst into our room unannounced. Half panting, she took in the scenario before her – our stunned faces, Tony in mid nappy-wipe – before running over to where Tony was standing and jamming a button.

“This button,” she explained, “sends ALL STAFF to your room.”

Tony had accidentally bumped the yellow emergency button.

Strategically placed within elbow-grazing distance
Do not press the yellow button. Unless you want Really Efficient Service.

 

You have been warned.

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