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~

seven QTs {more claims for Baby Z}

Baby Z-bubs/ Z-Z/ Zaky-boo/or something else that starts with “Z-” turned 5 months old on Monday! I know, I know where does the time go right? Still gets me every milestone, and this is baby number four.

5months

That all being said I thought maybe I’d share a few more “firsts” or “claims-to-fame” that have happened with/for this lil guy. (This here is the last set of firsts I found for him)

~1~
Our first Cradle Catholic 🙂

While the other three kids were all baptized as infants, we didn’t officially join the Church until well after that (total side note the first part of our multi-part “conversion story is over here, if you’re so interested). So, this guy here is our first Cradle Catholic. I realize though that the other kids won’t actually know anything else, since we were pretty sporadic about church attendance before.

22~My Favorite

~2~
My longest nurser

By far. This guy has nursed the longest of any of the kiddos. He pretty much flat out refuses if I try to offer anything by bottle. And believe me, I’ve tried. Not so much to get him off nursing, more to just get him a few extra calories (and mostly it’s been stored breast milk). But he is just NOT interested. At. All. He doesn’t even like juice.

This has of course had me feeling really depleted in terms of supply because I’d never nursed a “bigger” baby. But I’ve finally gotten my head wrapped around the fact that I NEED to drink water (lots and lots of it), which I pretty much have never been in the habit of doing. That has helped a lot. I also talked with a nurse at the doctors office earlier this week who suggested I add in a good bit of protein, like, for example: every meal. So I feel like that’s also helped to keep my milk supply a little more “there” and helped with me not feeling so “used up”.  🙂

~3~
“Worst” sleeper.

And to be fair, I have to use that term very loosely because he is actually a pretty good sleeper. BUT. Compared to the other kids who were EXCELLENT sleepers (especially through the night), he has been, by far the most needy in the night time hours.

~4~

Actually, he’s just my neediest child period. Neediest in terms of human comfort. I say that will all affection. He just always wants to have someone holding him. Maybe because he has three older siblings who are pretty much always within six inches of him and entertaining him (and have been since he came home from the hospital)…. I dunno. He’s happy when he’s in someone’s arms or someone’s in his face, literally. 🙂

 

~5~
Biggest

Again, by far. I have never had a baby get to 18 month clothing this fast. I think my boys are in some sort of competition or something. They’re all trying to be the same size.

This also means he’s the biggest baby I’ve ever nursed… and that’s… um… not so easy to do gracefully, I’m figuring out 🙂

~6~
Teeth

Earliest of the kids to even think about getting a tooth. I can see it right under the gums, but it hasn’t quite broken through. Considering that the other kids were closer to 9 months or so (if I’m remembering right), this is much earlier.

~7~
Longest lasting in our bedroom

Let me see…. Katherine was out of our room after one week; John after two days; Karl after two days…. Zachary is still most nights in our room. Although thankfully he’s happier in the bassinet than in our bed.

I realized I’m not so against the co-sleeping thing as I thought, but it really didn’t work for us after about four months.

We’ve tried to put him in Katherine’s room, where the big crib is set up. We started that early last week. He was in there for two nights I think, then we all got sick and it just worked better to have him in our room again. Plus Jared’s still really partial to him being real close ❤

sleeping~~~

Posting this tonight. Linking with Kelly, etc.. tomorrow AM

Seven firsts for baby #4 {pregnancy/birth edition}

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As the fourth baby, there’s not many firsts for baby Zachary. I’m pretty determined to make sure I note those few and far between firsts, just so he can have some claims to fame. 🙂

This is regarding my pregnancy with him and my labor/his birth. {Don’t worry, it’s pretty mild, not much gory detail, but it is birth related, so if that’s not your thing… just be warned} It may also have to double as his mini-birth-story because I’m not sure at this point if I’m going to get an actual birth story written up. And everytime I start writing it on paper I feel like it’s something just for me at this point, maybe later I’ll be ready to share it in more detail.

1. He’s the first baby we found out we were expecting while we were in Georgia. Along the same theme, we were also able to tell Jared’s family in person (at least I was, technically Jared was able to tell them about Katherine, but I wasn’t there for it……) And finally we were able to tell him family first out of everyone else (which hasn’t happened… I don’t think).

2. I didn’t go to the hospital even one extra time for baby Z before he was born. No bleeding where I went, no going in early for labor and having to leave, nothing!

3. While I didn’t go for baby Z, I did go in for myself to have a surgery (with no general anesthesia). I’ve never had a surgery while pregnant (before him). Since this wasn’t baby related, maybe I shouldn’t include it, but details, details…

4. He was my first pregnancy where I tested positive for GroupB Strep. Which meant that it was the first time I had antibiotics given during labor…. I was told the first dose would take about 30 minutes. Two hours later it was finally done and I was able to go walking the halls (I hadn’t want to drag the IV pole, which is why I hadn’t gone earlier.) But I was able to use the birth ball and that worked really well for me, so all was good. (Unrelated to GBS, I also told the midwives I wouldn’t be doing an early glucose test just because I had had a previous baby that was over 9lbs. It was the first time I’ve told them “no” #powertothepregnantladies)

5. This was my first natural birth, so it was the first time for all the things that go with that. No drugs, walking around as much as I wanted, getting into the hot tub, pushing while on all fours, being able to feel everything. If I had to describe it in one word: intense. Not necessarily painful (although right there at the end it was, it really was), but just really, really, intense. I felt that I handled it well though. I was at least able to maintain control of myself (although, there may have been some screaming and yelling as he was crowning… I don’t know…). He was the longest labor of my boys about 13 hours start to finish, just about 2-3 hours of more “active” labor and only the last little while was really “hard”. No tearing or stitches or any complications of any kind (yay!).This all happened in our hospital’s alternative birthing center which was really nice.

6. He weighed the most of any of my kids (10lbs even). This isn’t a first I guess, more of a “ranking”… and I suppose it could be subject to change if we were to have any more children. 🙂 I was also told a few weeks later that his head measured 14” (I understand that “average” is around 12″) I don’t remember what the other kids’ were, but I’m going to assume he had the biggest head too!

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7.His birth resulted in my shortest hospital stay. Less than 24 hours. That was mainly due to the fact that he was admitted to NICU (unfortunately he wasn’t able to hold that title of “first” as John also went) and I didn’t want to stay in my room if I couldn’t be near him. But I also think that was only possible because I didn’t have an epidural or anything else during labor. I felt great, considering I had just given birth.

~~~~~

I’m sure there will be more firsts for him, I know of at least one already, so I’m sure there will be another write up at some point in the future. 🙂

(NICU stay ended with no problems, and he’s been home now doing great since the beginning of November.)

Linking with Kelly for 7QT