One year later…

But wait, you say. Wasn’t Zachary’s birthday a few weeks ago? Yes, it was, but this is celebrating his coming home from the hospital, one year ago yesterday (Nov 3).

I think most of you know he spent 11 days in the NICU after he was born. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a long time. Neither was his stay there life threatening. But it was probably the longest, hardest 11 days we’ve had since he was born.

On the day after he was born, right after lunch I think it was, the nurse came in and said they’d need to have Zachary examined by one of their (the hospital’s) doctors because our doctor hadn’t been able to make it in yet. I agreed because I didn’t really think anything was wrong.

But, then the “doctors”, two ladies (who turned out to be Nurse Practitioners) came in. They were wearing matching dark green scrubs with something stitched on them. (Basically, these weren’t those cutesy pastel nurse scrubs, no… these guys girls were no nonsense). I got a bad feeling at that point. Anyway, they did their exam, said he had a slight temp (which I guess he had had for the last few times it was taken, but no one ever told me), and was breathing rapidly – both clinical indicators of an infection. They said they would discuss with the resident or neonatologist, I don’t remember who, and let me know what they decided they needed to do. My nurse suggested I try some skin-to-skin to try and calm his breathing in the meanwhile. So I did.
NICUstay

They came back about 20 minutes later and said he’d need to be admitted to NICU for care and observation. I think I asked “right now?”, she gave me about a minute or two (I was still holding him), then she took him.

There’s something completely different about having someone take your child against your will. And even though I knew it wasn’t permanent or too serious, it ranks up there among the harder things I’ve had to do.

NICUstay-2

Our NICU stay was uneventful. As much as I didn’t care to be there, it is actually set up quite well. All the rooms are private and there’s a “couch” that’s at least big enough to sleep on (and there’s showers and family rooms, etc..) Ours also allows siblings to visit, which was so super nice.

So what’s the point of this post? To share our experience and maybe to offer some thoughts for other mamas/families that find themselves there.

NICUstay-6

Get to know the nurses. Ask questions.
We ended up having the same four or five nurses the entire time we were there which was really nice. I got to know them and they got to know me. Dare I say? It felt like we almost became friends. I have before really noticed/seen nurses “in action” before. I’ve never seen them be right there to hand you a box of Kleenex when you loose it after the doctor says “not today” (after indicating that it could be “today”). Or to advocate taking him off all the monitors to literally just observe him and see how he does (in hopes of getting him home a little quicker). Or to take a picture and give you a hug as you’re leaving. To be truly happy and excited that you’re going home. I’d never seen that before and it has greatly increased my respect for them and the job they do.

NICUstay-4

Bring the other kids to visit.
I thought the other kids wouldn’t be able to handle going to the hospital and seeing Z hooked up to everything with wires and needles here there and everywhere. But they really didn’t seem to mind. They kind of accepted that “this was how it was”. And once they figured out the family room (where they could color, watch the fish and read books) and cafeteria, they were all set. 🙂

Develop a routine that includes taking a break.
I know not everyone may be comfortable leaving the hospital while the baby is there, but honestly I think it’s super important to take a little break from the alarms and pages and constant in and out of…. everyone…
To me, it’s one of the harder things to do. To leave. We live close by (five minutes… maybe) so it wasn’t hard to get back and forth. But I found that I really needed to come home and be with the other kids for part of the day. Trust me, if they need your permission for something they’ll call, even in the middle of the night {that was with John, that freaked me out… and I was mad because all they wanted was to ask permission for something that most likely could have waited until morning… but I digress…}
My eventual routine, if interested went something like this: Eat breakfast with the kids; go to the hospital by 8:00 for rounds (important to be there for that!), feed Z one or two times depending on when he’d last eaten; come home for lunch and spend the afternoon/evening at home to take care of house things, give Jared a break and take a rest myself; get the kids ready for bed (if not in bed) and head back to the hospital in time to give Z his next feeding; spend until after his midnight feeding at the hospital; come home and sleep.

NICUstay-7

Ask for help (or accept help offered)
Its completely exhausting keeping up the kind of schedule listed above. Mostly I found it hard to get to the grocery store or prepare meals. Jared was off work (mostly because he had a gout flare up) so he was able to watch the kids, but he had a hard time doing a lot of walking around. I was so grateful to the people who just gave us meals or helped with the kids.
After we got home I took mental inventory of everything we’d been given (food, time or… whatever) I almost started thinking about how I was ever going to repay everything, when I realized that I wasn’t; that God had shown me, us, his Church in action. He had shown me how good He was, is, and how big He is and there is no way for me to match that. I can only accept and pass on as I’m able.

NICUstay-8
~almost ready to leave~
~home~
~home~
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Siblings {June}

This past weekend we spent some time on a beach house of one of our friends. We go there a few times a year. I tried to get photos of the kids together. But the big kids were always off on their next adventure and it was hard to carry around the baby 🙂

siblings june-4

Hello June! Hello Summer! (Sort of… depending on the day…) We’ve been doing lots of hanging out outside. The big kids have been playing *mostly* nicely with each other.

siblings june-3

Karl seems to be keeping up just a little bit more with the two oldest.

on the beach

Zachary is pretty much content to sit and watch. Except for when he’s done. Then he’s done. He absolutely doesn’t know what to do with himself if the others aren’t around for him to watch. For example, this morning he was up before the rest, he had eaten, I had set him on the floor because I was trying to read a book (mind I’d already been holding him for a good while). He was fussy and generally not happy… until.. he saw Johnny. Then he was all giggles and smiles

cookout

Again… sitting on the side lines while they “grill” with their Papa (grandpa).

I did capture one picture of them all together, from the other day

siblings june2-3

 

Here’s to getting them all in one photo looking at me next month!

~Ruth Anne

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This post is part of a project to take at least one photo a month of them all together. Into’s here

dear beautiful

Siblings {May}

sibs may-3

This past month has seemed to go a bit better than last month. I mean we still have many, many squabbles. But they seem to be genuinely liking each other a lot more.

Katherine has really embraced reading to the boys. (Mostly only if I’m not available to read.. if I’m sitting there waiting to read to them, she won’t do it.) There have been quite a few moments like the one above where they’re all squished onto the couch reading!

A few days ago we took Zachary for a ride in the cars. The big kids LOVED it, Z, was just trying to figure out what was going on. Karl did take a short ride with him as well, but wasn’t really able to hold on to Z and move the car at the same time, so… I had to hold the baby (and move the car for them), so I didn’t get a picture.

I’ve noticed so much more working/playing together from all of them. Maybe it’s just the increased time outside. We’ve spent almost every possible moment out there. Some days, like today, starting before 7:00 AM…. Or maybe it’s just an increase in my saying to them to “work it out”. Either way, it’s good to see.

sibs may-4

I especially love this photo because it shows Karl and Zachary looking at each other and (sorta) smiling. I always, in the back of my mind, wonder how Karl is doing with losing his place as the baby especially because of the tantrums he’s able to throw. But I’ve heard on more than one occasion from him in the past month “I luv you Zak-a-wy”.

~Ruth Anne

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This post is part of a project to take at least one photo a month of them all together. Into’s here

dear beautiful
Also joining up with CoomeMills for Country Kids, I know this isn’t a single solitary outdoor event, but we’ve spent so much time outside, I’ve not had a chance to share all the individual adventures, so just giving a short version here.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Siblings {April}

Oh what a difference a month makes!

siblings

If you recall, last month’s sibling photo had them all wearing snowsuits! And now look! Bare toes! (And shoes on the wrong feet)

siblings-2

 

 

They were playing hard-to-smile and I was trying to get them to do *anything* to loosen up before Baby Z totally fell apart… hands in the air was all I could think of at the moment.

Let’s see sibling-y news for the month? Well, it’s been a lot of the same around here. Like I said, warmer weather, so more outside playing time.

Zachary has really been wanting to join in the fun, but he’s still a tad on the young side, he can’t really sit unsupported. So mostly he just lays and watches what he can. When I try to prop him on the couch he’s taken to propelling himself forwards; haven’t lost him off the edge yet, but he’s so forceful that I’m just not horribly comfortable with that set up anymore.

Katherine has taken to being a bit of a bully to the boys this past week (just random walk up to them and pull their hair, push them down, pinch them… all for apparently no reason) :(. I’m really at a loss for how to handle the situation because she basically doesn’t respond to *anything*. The latest punishment is to not play with anyone… that started tonight and is going through Friday morning…. so we’ll see how tomorrow goes. If you have suggestions, I’m open to ideas. (She’s just about 5 1/2).

This is just totally unlike her because she loves the boys and they adore her – can barely do anything without her it seems. I dunno.

Karl is trying desperately to keep up with the older kids.

siblings2

siblings2-2

He has been doing marginally better with the tantrums these past few days. I know people have said “Oh, he’s just reacting to Zachary being born, etc…” But then he told me on Monday, I think it was “I love Zachu-wy” “You do?” I asked him. He smiled his goofy smile and shook his head “Ye-ah”

And Johnny. He’s decided he wants to start reading lessons, I think mostly to do the same thing Katherine is doing. If I don’t push anything while we’re doing it he actually does OK.

 

~Ruth Anne

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This post is part of a project to take at least one photo a month of them all together. Into’s here

dear beautiful

Siblings {March}

Oops, March 15 came and went. So, here’s this months sibling photo:

siblingsmarch

(I really do hope we are nearing the end of snow suit season). But in sibling news: Baby Z. really enjoys watching his siblings from a sitting position (preferably with someone holding him… but when that isn’t possible he sits in his little jumper)

They seem to be getting along pretty well this month. They’ve been doing a little more of “playing” card games and simple board games and figuring out things like taking turns, and things being fair and all that good stuff.

Katherine has been trying to get the boys (all of them) on the reading boat. Asking any of them at any time “_______ what does the “M” say?” and things like that. She is just starting to read regular books out loud and sometimes will attempt reading something to them depending on the mood of the moment.

brothers

Baby Z isn’t really into taking bottles, but Karl was wanting a drink after being outside so he happily finished a good potion of this bottle (just a little pear juice and water), and then decided that Z needed to have some.

Any other sibling news for the month? Not really.

Oh, but one funny comment from today:
{Katherine looking at the photo album where I keep all the ultrasound pictures of the kids}
Is this Sophia?
Me: No, honey, I’m not pregnant right now
K: Why not? You just have to wait a minute?

I’m not putting words in her mouth or anything, but I’m guessing (especially since this was the second comment RE: Sophia today) that she has already planned for our next child and that it will be a girl and that it is arriving imminently.

~Ruth Anne

P.S. Sophia is the current name we have picked out for the next girl baby we have, if we are so blessed
P.P.S. I’m not pregnant right now.

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This post is part of a project to take at least one photo a month of them all together. Into’s here

dear beautiful