Penny Victoria Genevieve Long was born on Wednesday 20th June weighing 6lbs 4, 6 days before her due date! We chose Penny as it was Mike’s favourite name and it really started to grow on me, Victoria after my Mum who passed away 4 years ago, and Genevieve after Mike’s Mum’s aunt and I also happened to love that name!
I thought I’d write a bit about the first 5 days we’ve had together honestly- it’s definitely had its ups and downs and no matter how many people tried to warn us about having a newborn, we still felt (feel) completely overwhelmed and clueless!
In the week before Penny was born, I had had a couple of days of contractions that, whilst nothing in comparison to the real thing, weren’t the most comfortable. They last for about 8 hours each time and both times we thought ‘THIS IS IT!!’ and then they stopped and I would wake up the next morning as if nothing had happened. As a result, when it finally did happen, we weren’t too sure if it would just stop again! Tuesday night, I felt fine and nothing out of the ordinary. At midnight, I had the first contraction. It was like nothing I had had before and was much more ‘stabbing’ and painful. I started timing them immediately but didn’t wake Mike. I had a feeling this was actually ‘it’ and so got up and started packing the final things for hospital. The contractions started coming every 8 minutes, then every 3 minutes in a 20 minute period, each time getting worse so I quickly woke Mike who thought it might be a false alarm again. However, he realised pretty soon she was very much on her way!
We ordered an Uber and managed to get to hospital in about 20 minutes. At this point, the contractions were coming every 90 seconds with not much time for relief in between. The poor Uber driver was a little bit shocked when he pulled up at the hospital to say the least. I was whizzed up to the delivery room whereby a nurse asked if it was my first child and seemed a bit hesitant to check us in when I told her I’d only been in labour for 1 hour. However another midwife checked me and announced that I had dilated to 9-10cm and Penny would be here in a matter of minutes! Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed any drugs or pain relief whatsoever, which was a shame as I heard so many wonderful things about the epidural!! Poor Mike was an absolute hero throughout the whole process- it was pretty crazy and neither of us had been expecting her to appear quite so fast!
Penny was born within half an hour of arriving at the hospital at 2:15am, only 2 hours after the first contraction. It was insane. We had planned on having a private room in the hospital for the both of us to stay in for 3 nights- the usual for Austria. However, the hospital was full so sadly Mike had to leave on Wednesday night and I was moved to a room with another woman. Penny and I really struggled with feeding and it also happened to be Vienna’s hottest day of the year- 37 degrees! We were in a room with no aircon or windows open and Penny wouldn’t feed. It was a bit horrific. Luckily the midwives were great and helped her latch on every time she needed to feed. I decided it was way too hot for us in the room and so we camped out on a sofa in the hospital corridor that was underneath a window so got a bit of a breeze and and was much more peaceful.
The next day, we were both allowed home so Mike came and the three of us went home in a taxi to start life as a family! The last few days have been an absolute blur or learning how to feed, changing nappies and learning so much about babies! Neither of us had ever really been around babies before so had no experience in literally anything. It was a very steep learning curve to say the least! Penny’s feeding still isn’t great but we got a breast pump and that’s been a bit of a life-saver as she now takes both. However, breast-feeding in the night is pretty awful as she gets herself into quite the fuss and will often end up screaming. A 30 minute feed usually takes an hour and a half. However, with the bottle of expressed milk, I’m now able to feed her in the night without waking up Mike (too much) and when we have time in the day, we practise breast-feeding, usually in the morning when it’s nice and peaceful in her nursery.
Penny’s reflexes have been both infuriating and hilarious. She often looks like a conductor of an orchestra, throwing her teeny hands around passionately. However it also means she keeps herself awake a lot. Our midwife taught us how to swaddle effectively and that’s been a bit wonderful! No more horrific scratches to her face! We took her out at 4 days old to the park in her buggy, both of us so incredibly nervous and swearing under our breath at barking dogs and noisy cars, but it went well and included a brief wake up time from Penny, who simply drank some expressed milk and went back to sleep again! Because we haven’t quite got the hang of breast-feeding smoothly, I’m yet to do it in public as I’m a bit terrified of what might happen!
Today (5 days old), Mike went back to work and I managed to get her dressed (and myself), fed, expressed in preparation and down to the paediatricians for her first check up. I used a Moby wrap that a very dear friend lent us and it was great! Penny remained calm and snug as a bug throughout the walk to the doctors. My Dad and his wife who flew straight out to Vienna accompanied us, which was great to have that bit of support. It was fairly successful I think, although the docs always talk to each other in German and I can’t understand what they’re saying a lot of the time, which makes me feel a bit on edge. Times like that when I wish we were back in England or an English-speaking country anyway! Still, the first day by ourselves has been successful and filled me with confidence to go out again.
Anyway, I’ll update soon but this has been our (almost) first week together. Penny is amazing and we are completely besotted with her. Mike summed it up nicely when he declared that he couldn’t believe how someone has come along who wakes him at every hour of the night but he can’t be mad at her for it!