Monday, 2 November 2009

What Happened During My Maternity Leave?

After giving birth to Ben in early March this year, we also hired Jenlia who conducted the antenatal classes we attended 2 mths earlier for 3 postnatal home visits (You can read more on my experience in the antenatal class in my previous blog post... all I can say is it is one of the best decision we made in signing up for the class). This is because we are doing our own DIY confinement and we just want assurance from the expert (and modern thinking people) that we are doing the right things and doing it right.

In the 1st visit, Jo (short for Jocelyn) who also conducted 2 out of 4 of the antenatal classes we attended came after hubby called her up for an appointment. She came to our house 3 days after I delivered Ben and proceeded to weigh & measure Ben. She gave us advice on how to clean Ben's umbilical cord, and she also checked whether my breastfeeding technique is correctly done or not and whether Ben is latching correctly or not.

She also told us that she noticed Ben is a bit on the yellow side (signs of impending jaundice) and advised us to send Ben for a blood test to check on his jaundice level. I still remember hubby telling her that we will send Ben to hospital for blood test on Monday as it was Saturday when Jo came for her 1st visit. Jo advised us what to do in the event we need to admit or send Ben to hospital for blood test.

And Sunday came... Ben got more yellow even after sunbathing (Chinese belief early morning sunlight is good to get rid of jaundice...) In the evening time, Ben got more and more yellow... his eyes are yellow and when we pressed lightly on his skin it clearly shows he is having jaundice and it doesn't look mild. We decided to go to Putrajaya hospital Sunday night itself as there might be possibilities of Ben being admitted if the jaundice is serious.

At the hospital, we went straight to the A&E unit as advised by Jo few days ago and had to wait for an hour for our turn to get Ben's blood for testing. Two male nurses took Ben into a room and we managed to peep inside through the slightly opened door and saw them extracting Ben's blood into this huge (it look huge to me) syringe. It pains me so so so much to see my tiny baby lying there on the big bed and having his blood extracted out... I cried and stood helplessly. Then we had to wait for another hour for the results. I breastfeed Ben in the car while hubby go to and fro few times to check whether our report is out already or not. After an hour, we were told that Ben needs to be admitted as his bilirubin level is above 250 (Putrajaya hospital will admit your baby if the bilirubin level is above 250)

Then I started to panic. Sh*t! Admit hospital? What about me? I need to breastfeed Ben! I don't want him to stay in the hospital without my breast milk! I just gave birth 5 days ago and just started breastfeeding, I don't know how to express my milk yet!

At the A&E ward, we were told of the procedure to admit Ben into Neonatal ICU (NICU) where they placed all the premature babies and babies on jaundice as well. The staff told us that there is no room available in NICU for me so I had to go home and express my milk and bring for Ben. I said no. I want to stay with Ben. After a while, the staff managed to find a room for me & Ben. We were given a bed in the pediatrician ward and Ben can sleep next to me.

This is where we stayed for the night. Ben was in this plastic tub (don't know what they call it) under a single billie light and they covered his eyes with this cotton patch.

I couldn't sleep as the light is bright (UV light) and Ben cried every now and then and I just woke up and cuddle and hug him. In the end, I end up cuddling Ben in my arms with the light over me and Ben.

Hubby went home to pack more things for us and he left us after that as he could not overnight in the paed ward with us since there are breastfeeding mums staying in the ward as well.

About 4-5am, the nurse took Ben's blood for more test again to see whether the bilirubin level has gone down or not. After a few hours, I was told the level has shot up higher. It was 290 now and they had to put double billie lights for Ben now. I was told NOT to pick Ben up anymore now matter how he cried. My act of picking him up actually causes more damage as Ben is not getting adequate UV light to kill off the bilirubin levels.

At about 12pm, hubby came and we were told that Ben will be placed in the NICU under triple lights now and I had to go back home and express out my breast milk for Ben. The staff said I had to do that if I want Ben to get better fast. As much as reluctant as I was to be separated from my 5 days old baby and leave him all alone in this strange place for him, I had to do it so that he can come home to us.

A nurse came and prepared Ben. We saw her putting in the IV drip tube to Ben's hand. Jaundice babies under heavy UV light will normally required IV drip to keep them hydrated as UV light causes dehydration and if you see the pictures clearly, you can see Ben's skin starting to peel and dry up because of the UV light.

You have no idea how much I cried seeing Ben's small hand in that IV tube. So small and he is already been subjected to all this. Sob sob sob. As they wheeled Ben's bed to NICU, we were allowed to follow to the NICU.

In the NICU, all parents had to take off their shoes, wear a plastic apron, wash their hands before they can proceed to the babies area. This is to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene level as there are a lot of premature babies there. We saw how the staff in NICU took care of Ben, I was crying all the way...

A nurse scolded me for crying so much, I can still remember her telling me "Jaundice is small matter. Like this already cry until eyes red and swollen, next time your child will have other illness and fall sick then how much you want to cry? You are a mum already! How will your baby feel if he knows his mum cries over things like this?' I sobered up from my crying right then. I am really thankful for that nurse for scolding me cos if she didn't do that, well, I would still be a crybaby until now I guess... :(

Another nurse explained to us how to express and store the breast milk and where to put the breast milk when I bring it over to NICU. We left sometime after that, reached home in the afternoon, I started pumping and storing whatever milk I can express into small containers, each one labeling the date and time expressed. We went back in the evening and check out Ben. He is on double lights now and his bilirubin level has dropped a bit and if it continues the day after, he may be discharged. We went home that night without Ben in our home. It felt so empty and quiet. Hubby and I misses Ben so much and prayed for his recovery so that he can be back in our arms.

The next day, we were told that Ben can go home already. Yeay! At home, we feel so happy again cos the family is complete again!


My birthday was 12 days after Ben's. So next year onwards, he and I are going to share a birthday cake. Lucky for daddy! His wallet must be screaming with joy at the sound of that! :P Anyway, for my birthday gift this year, I was allowed to eat McChicken meal set... without the soft drinks! Bummer! But well... better than nothing, I guess...


About 1 week after my birthday, we called Jo for the 2nd home visit. We told her about our jaundice experience and thanked her for her advice to us. Had she not alerted us earlier, we wouldn't have been so alert and conscious about the seriousness of jaundice and admitted Ben to hospital. Jo did the same procedures of weighing and measuring Ben and checking my conditions.

In the 3rd and last home visit, I showed Jo my breast milk collection which I have started to store 1mth before my maternity leave ended and she also taught me some postnatal exercises which I can do at home.


Ok, ok.. I'm not partying again, but Ben is. We held a full moon party for Ben when he turned 1 mth old and invited close friends and family members to our house. Received a lot of baby gifts and angpows from our wonderful friends, colleagues and family members.


We originally went to a government clinic 15mins from our house for Ben's 1st scheduled jab. But by the time we reached the clinic at 2pm (hubby was busy with appointments throughout the month actually), we were told to come the next day at 8am to QUEUE up for our turn, which we were told again, will be 2 hours time... meaning come at 8am to get our queue number, and appointment is 2 hours from then. We took a look around the gov clinic, saw that it is sharing with the general public clinic (meaning they don't just see babies, they also see children, adults and old folks as well!) and decided, nope... no more gov clinic. I'd rather pay...

So we hunted and asked around for a good paed around our area and SIL told us to try this Dr. Lam about 20mins away from our area. Went there and found out this Dr Lam is a good paed, childish in a way (he plays peekaboo with Ben!), older than MIL, but young at heart and most importantly, he doesn't go for all the modern techno stuff. When we asked him whether we should go for all the new type of jabs, he said 'no need, last time you all kids got or not? actually those jabs you get if you eat seafood (I'm just giving example here) your baby got eat seafood ar? then get for what?'

From then on, all of Ben's jabs are done at Dr. Lam's clinic. I wouldn't say the price is cheap but we can afford it and I think its worth it rather than queuing up at 8am then waste 2 hours for your turn and meanwhile increase your chance to be infected with other ppl's illnesses while waiting at the gov clinic.

LAST GYNAE CHECKUP (for now... until I had a bun in the oven again I supposed... :P)

Two weeks prior to my maternity leave ending, I had to return to Putrajaya Hospital for my last gynae check up. Hubby and I brought Ben along so that we can show Dr Jamil how the baby he delivered looks like now :D

Dr Jamil scanned my uterus and confirmed it has returned back to its original position and my wounds are healed already. He said I can continue taking the prenatal vitamins I've been taking all this while and told us to keep up our breastfeeding practice.

We also gave a Thank You card to Dr Jamil to thank him for his help in delivering Ben and for his advice and concerns towards me and Ben throughout my pregnancy right up to childbirth. We didn't dare to buy or give him hampers or anything, not sure whether government staff are supposed to be receiving gifts or not... scared might fall under bribery case... so we thought a Thank You card should do for now... :)


Dr Jamil asked whether I had done any Pap Smear before and I said no. He advised me to do it since I'm already in the hospital and it won't take long to do the test also. And it is best to get tested now that I have delivered a baby. So, I went ahead with the test. It was a bit uncomfortable, but not painful and its over very fast.


As fun as it sounds, it is actually not fun... Imagine last minute finding out that you still can't wear back your pre-pregnancy office clothes and shoes... and you have no choice but to buy new ones... and you are shopping at the last minute... bah...

From then on, it is baby care by hubby most of the time all the way until I returned back to work, bla bla bla, then decided to quit my job to be a full time mummy and here I am now, blogging about things which had already happened 7mths+ ago at the wee hours in the morning.

Time goes by so fast when you are having fun!


Anonymous said...

Love this post, thanks for sharing what you went through. I'm sure this is going to be a useful info for parents-to-be. I wonder, what causes jaundice? Could it be from our diet during pregnancy? So many newborns these days seem to have it...

I'm a full-time mummy... said...

Glad you like this post! :)

This is what Babycenter mentioned in what causes jaundice:

Btw, if you plan to breastfeed your baby next time, they will be having jaundice longer (means slower to recover) cos there is something in the BM that causes the liver to not be able to process bilirubin properly. (

Tandanie said...

Hi full-time mummy, my son got jaundice too on his 2nd day and I was also crying when I can discharged with my son from the hospital! And cried again when he had to be admitted again because his jaundice level was still high after the 7th day...
A nursing mother should avoid eating ginger too much because this will cause the baby to have longer jaundice (as claimed by some olden days belief).

I'm a full-time mummy... said...

Hi Tandanie!

Welcome to my humble blog! As I'm an anti-vegetarian (can read in one of my previous post), I didn't even take ginger that time...

I think the jaundice is high cos of breastfeeding as well cos the lady from Jenlia Maternal Services (who conducted the postnatal home visits) said can be breastmilk jaundice.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


I'm a full-time mummy said...

Hi mabel/Lucy,

Thanks and nice to hear that you enjoyed reading my blog. Have a nice day! :)

Cranky Mommy said...

I'm sorry the nurse scolded you so soundly. I'm sure there could have been a nicer way of giving the same wisdom a brand new mom who is full of hormones.
Glad it all worked out in the end!
Happy SITS Day!


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