photo taken by Angela Speiker

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zachary is still doing well

Let's see--my days are starting to blur together and I can't remember what I posted from time to time. I do go home today, this afternoon is the plan. It will be bittersweet going home (finally seeing my Emers and Calvin) but leaving Zach here. I know this is the best place for him, for now. It will be pretty sad walking out of the hospital w/o my baby boy, though. Kind of odd that Emerald will be our youngest first home baby. Each experience is so unique and wonderful.

I got to hold Zachary last night and it was incredible. He is so super sweet, and just curled up on my chest and slept, peacefully. I feel so guilty that Skip hasn't held him yet, but it felt so good to hold my little one. It was a whole lot easier this time, w/ you know only 20 or so wires/tubes/monitors to move this time. I loved the feeling of having him that close to me. It is such an odd feeling to look down and see him, and know that just a few short days ago he was there, like that, just inside. He is doing such a good job holding his own. The NICU nurses keep reminding us that he is great, he is big, and he is doing well. It is all relative, as they had twins born last night at 28 weeks, weighing a pound and a half. They did start feeding Zachary yesterday and he has been doing really well with that. His bili levels went up a little, but that isn't a big deal. He was to remain under the lights thru today for sure, but it makes for some adorable sunglasses our little dude gets to wear. I need a pic of that! Daddy was so cute last night asking the nurse to explain all the machines, tubes, wires, bells, etc. The nurse guessed, before he even had to say, that he was an engineer. Those engineers and their minds! Daddy was also busy inspecting him all over asking about bruises, bumps, spots, etc. He wants to make sure there isn't anything wrong with his boy. Zachary's swelling has gone down a lot, and last night we actually commented on his little scrawny legs that reminded us of Simon! The results from his kidney/renal ultrasound came back fine-normal (I can't remember if I said that yesterday). That was awesome news. Beyond that, we are just making sure the lungs stay healthy, and he keeps eating and sleeping. We have to figure out how this schedule is going to work as far as balancing the big kids at home and giving enough attention to our itty-bitty one. I am sure this will work itself out, and I will remain feeling guilty no matter where I am, or what I am doing. I am also going to try really hard to make sure and take care of me, that will be super difficult! I don't want to end up hurting myself and needing any extra help.

We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, and help. If we don't get back to you soon, please understand how crazy it is right now.

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Years! Can't believe 2008 is gone and we are entering a new year. Everyone stay safe tonight and as the clock strikes midnight, send up a thankful prayer to God for all the many joyous blessings we have in our lives. They are too numerous to count!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Zachary's first pic


This was the first pic we got of him, about 3 hours after birth. Such a sweet little boy.


I finally get to post a pic. I will get help with more and attempt to post more later. Thanks Aunt Laura!!!

Monday info

We got a nice report on Zach last night. They extibated (forgive my spelling, steph you can correct me later) him yesterday as the Surfactant (the meds they gave for his lungs) had worked and seemed to make his lungs help him to breathe. He now has no tubes at all in his mouth!!! I was able to sit by his side for about an hour-hour and a half yesterday and just listen to his sweet, tiny little cry. I love that sound!! Again, with the tears, though. One nurse walking by saw me and just came over and hugged me, telling me it would all be ok. Of course I know this, I was just so emotional getting to hear him.

He does have a couple of things in his nose, one to help keep some oxygen going in, and the other is a feeding tube. They said they were going to start feeding him later last night or this morning. We will hope that this new phase goes well. The NICU nurses are doing such a great job with our little man. They have him under some bili lights. His jaundice levels weren't bad, they are just trying to stay ahead of the game and keep him healthy for sure. They did a kidney sono yesterday, late, so we didn't have results from that yet. His poor little feet--ouch! They keep pricking his little feet for blood draws, and I can't begin to tell you how many little bruises are there. My poor little man!! He has lost another couple of ounces, but they say that it was mostly fluid, or like water weight. This is normal and we aren't too concerned.

On the home front, we are so thankful for all of the help!! My sweet, darling, awesome husband! He started his day helping me out all night, sleeping on a pull-out couch that isn't so comfy for my 6' 7" hubby. His back is killing him, but he was still willing to get up and help me throughout the night and getting woken at around 5:45 to talk with docs, nurses, draw labs, etc. He then went for "it's a boy" doughnuts to show off our good news at work. How sweet is that? He worked nearly a full day (as close as we can get for now), then raced home to get clothes for myself and him (yeah, we didn't pack so perfectly at 4:30 am Saturday morning amidst the chaos, and didn't plan for enough days). He then helped love on the Emerald, Calvin, and Laney (who is feeling quite left out these days). Em and Cal loved having some daddy time. I think he helped with dinner, maybe bath, etc., then hopped in the car to drive back to the hospital. We went to see Zach and then it was more helping me and a repeat, with a little less sleep last night. He has beeen amazing thru this process, and I am so thankful to have him as my best friend and my dear husband. I love you sweet angel!

The kids are so well taken care of. Skip's mom took care of them all of Saturday (after the chaos) and Sunday. Now she is over getting some time with Josiah, which I hope might be a little more calm than my busy munchkins. She has been great helping with kids and household duties, and I know she'll be coming back for more later this week. Walt, Skip's dad, is also headed back to KC after working a few more days, and he will be put to work as well! My parents took over for the kids yesterday/part of Sunday, and I know there was a trip to the park yesterday. I think they are staying thru New Year's Day, and my mom plans to come back in a couple of weeks to help more. I know that everyone is working together and helping so much to take care of all our things. Thank God for our sweet family!! We also very much appreciate all the phone calls, love, prayers, and support from our friends and family both near and far. Keep those prayers coming for baby Zach!!

I will be going home tomorrow. Wish me luck with that!! For now, I will enjoy the peace of the hospital and the time I get to spend with Zachary. I'll keep you posted as we learn more and as I find time to post. Again, pics won't post here at the hospital, but I have some uploaded to facebook that i can send out to people. Pray hard for our little Zachary Stanley!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Update on our little Lobster--still Emerald's preferred name :)

Zachary is doing well! The best news of all is that I got to hold him last night! It was such an incredible experience. I can't remember where Skip left off, so I will say what I can about him. I'll go back later and fill in any gaps Skip might have left out :)

Zachary was breathing on his own at birth, and crying, which is a huge thing for a baby as early as he was. If I can ever get the picture to upload (major issues with that), he has a tube helping him keep positive air pressure for the first few hours. At around 5 Saturday, they did intubate (sp??) him to give him some meds (Surfactant). They are going to try to take that out today, Monday, which is a good thing. He has been doing everything else just like he should! He is getting a little swollen in his hands and feet, which they say is normal, and is keeping his body temp pretty controlled. Today they we are also planning to do a sono of his kidneys to make sure they were developed fully, an issue we had been watching b/c of his 2 vessel cord anyway. His heart sounds good, awesome news. They have had to prick his heel too many times and it looks so sad with all those little bruises on a foot which is smaller than my thumb. Holding him last night, though, was such an emotinal experience. I know, I am a cheesy crier any any given day, always have been, then you mix the hormonal aspect in, and then you throw in our newborn son in the mix. Let's just say they put the box of kleenex right there for me :) Having him clutch my finer with his tiny little hand, lay his small head on my chest, and to just be able to smell him, feel him breath on my chest, watch his chest rise and fall--wow, I'm crying my eyes out just re-living it right now. Thanks be to God for allowing our little boy to be ok. They weighed him last night, while we were there, and he dropped to 3 lb 11 oz, which is fine, normal they say. He isn't really eating yet, so that makes sense to me. We just don't want him to drop too much, b/c he does have to go home to our crazy chaotic house at some point. :)

Speaking of our crazy chaotic house, the kids got to come up to the hospital yesterday. Emerald was NOT happy with our name choice--"I don't like it". So, if she can call him Zach Lobster, or Lobster Zach, she is fine. She still just says Lobster often, and that is fine with us for now. They came in the room and she came right over to my belly and talked about Lobster. Too sweet. We reminded her that he wasn't in there any more. My parents also drove up yesterday and so we had a room full with my mom, dad, Skip's mom, and our 2 hyper kids in here. We took my mom and Emers up to meet Zachary (Cheryl has had a cold and felt bad, and Calvin, well, he's just a little busy and loud, and has had the winter-sniffles too). Emerald thought he was pretty small, and she got pretty excited to touch his little leg. She had a lot of questions about all the wires and buttons, and she was also excited to use her new camera (a Christmas present) to take her own pictures of her brother. Pretty soon she got bored and told us her belly hurt and it was time to go. I think it will grow on her, maybe after she can see him a little better and touch him, hold him, etc. Right now it's scary for us, I can't imagine what a 3 year old is thinking.

Jeff and Heidi came up later to see their nephew. It is so super weird to think I was holding Josiah Christmas day and thinking just how tiny he is. Now our little man is about half that size! I did get to have my first official babysitting job for Josiah, some awesome one-on-one time, when they went up to the NICU. Josisah told me all about his busy weekend of meeting new family members. Weird to think that Josiah and Zachary are only 18 days apart! Zachary is also only 3 1/2 months younger than his other cousin, Simon. What a busy time of year in our family!!

I really am trying on the picture front. For some reason, the hospital web connection logs you out every few minutes. For those who've uploaded photos on blogger, you know how long it can take. I will try to email out a few more pictures today. Unfortunatly, that sometimes isn't working, either. Maybe we'll have better luck today.

For now, wish luck to our parents, as they have the crazy monsters at home. Keep praying for a healthy report as each day passes for our sweet baby boy. I am recovering fine, although you really don't realize just how often you use your ab muscles until you can't use them. It is amazing how difficult the simplest things in life are, like taking a shower, or even going to the bathroom. I miss my big kids, but after having them in the room yesterday, I realize that, for me, this is the safest place I can be for now. I may end up staying until Wednesday, we will just play it by ear. Zach is here for some time, I'm not even going to predict that for now. We will post again when we find out any new info. Sorrry I can't get more pics up, that is just it for now. If you want pics and I haven't sent them, shoot me an email and I will attempt to send it to you that way, as it worked for us last night. I got some great shots yesterday, so I'll try to stay updated. Keep praying for Zachary!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surprise! Zachary is here!

This is Skip posting this blog, so I apologize for the engineering format. Also, we have not had any luck posting pictures while at the hospital, so we will try later. Surely Steph will recount the story differently when she is able. But here are the bullet points.
  • 4:25 am (Saturday, 12/27) - Our severe weather alarm goes off in our bedroom telling us what we already know: driving thunderstorm with stong wind, heavy rain, and small hail pelting our home, amidst a tornado watch (in December!).
  • 4:30 am - Steph's water breaks (she is fairly sure). A call to the doctor's office tells us that we should make our way to the hospital.
  • 6:30 am - After packing some bags (yeah, we hadn't done this yet, seeing as how we were only 31 weeks), we start the car. We are not able to drive as fast as we wanted, as the rain wouldn't allow us to see much.
  • 7:00 am - Arrive at hospital, soon to be admitted, definitely in labor.
  • 9:00 am - Steph hooked up for IV, magnesium (to slow down labor), steriod shot (to develop baby's lungs). Planned to do another shot in 24 hours (yeah, right!).
  • 12:00 pm - Doctors decide baby is ignoring magnesium, and wants out. Heart rate dips after every contraction (about 3 minutes all morning). Contractions getting more intense. Baby won't survive another 7-8 hours until full dialation.
  • 12:15 pm - Walked into C-section room, received spinal.
  • 12:32 pm - Baby pulled out (looked fairly violent from other side of curtain). It's a boy! Let's out some squeals, which sound great (but hopefully not a foreshadowing). Everything seems to be OK. 3lb, 14oz. Good APGAR's. Breathing on his own. Good color. Whisked away to NICU.
  • 3:00 pm - Wheeled up to NICU to see baby for a brief time.
  • 4:30 pm - Decide to name him Zachary Stanley Pankewich.
  • 4:30 pm - Inserted breathing tube for meds to help develop lungs. Still doing well, but tired. Allowed to rest the rest of the night.
  • Steph is doing well. Still in bed from anesthetics.
  • Skip is tired. Cannot blog anymore.

Friday, December 26, 2008

We must have been good--Santa came to our house!


Opening the Santa presents. Oh if I had half the excitement and energy of these 2!!

Emerald set up the "nursery" for her babies during dinner.
The baby doll set that will hopefully help "train" the kids how to treat Lobster.


Pop Pop loving on his new grandson.

The kids with Skip's Uncle Allen and Janet. We were so excited they could join us for dinner.

Uncle Jeff still loves to wrestle with the "big" kids, which they adore. It will be a few months before he can do that with Josiah.

Aunt Heidi is such a great mommy! We love seeing them in this new role!

My sweet nephew, on his first Christmas! He's so tiny!! How can you forget so fast--they grow up way too fast??

Uncle Jeff loving on his boy.

Emerald opening her babies that she requested from Santa. She has already named them like 20 different names.

Calvin was pretty excited to see Elmo!

"Race cars" Calvin got pretty excited to see his gift, too.

Santa ate his cookies and drank all his milk. He even had time to leave a sweet note.

Our loaded Christmas tree. We had even more presents come later with Jeff & Heidi and Aunt Laura shipped more. Yikes!! We feel so blessed.
Santa came and ate all our cookies! He even left us presents. What a fun Christmas morning it was when the kids showed us all their full-fledged excitement of the season while opening Santa's presents. Santa brought Emerald a baby doll set and twin babies. He brought Calvin a large Elmo and a race car set. Both kids also got a pretty cool dance-cam that connects to the tv and they sing/dance as they watch themselves on tv. It was funny to watch Calvin pushing around the babies in the stroller and Emerald all about the race cars. They were still pretty excited that they'd been "good enough" to get the presents they requested. Later that morning we had Aunt Heidi, Uncle Jeff, Josiah, Nana, Pop Pop, and Skip's Uncle Allen and Janet over to the house for a big meal and more gift opening. It was Josiah's first trip to our house, and his first Christmas, which was a pretty exciting day for the little guy! We loved spending it with him!! That night, as the kids were falling asleep, Emerald asked for her new babies. I brought them up, along with their pack-and-play, b/c how do you deny the Santa gifts?? She finally fell asleep, about and hour and a half later. Wish I'd have gotten a picture of it--she was asleep on her floor, pillows down, blanket removed from the bed, beside the baby bed, with Mango inside, covered up, and the horsey looking in on him to watch over him as he slept. No matter what new toys we get, nothing ever replaces Mango or Bo-Bo. Calvin also took his new Elmo to bed (his request) and Elmo was to the side, Bo-Bo clutched tightly to his chest. Why don't I ever take pictures of those sweet moments, too?
Among the many wonderful gifts we received, we are too spoiled, all of us, Emerald got a new digital (kid) camera. She put on about 69 pictures in the first 20 minutes. They were all making fun of the situation, describing her to be just like me. I guess I'm trying to teach her early to be a budding photographer. I can't wait to see her pics and see if they are any good. It's better than her playing with my new camera!

Getting ready for Santa...........


Waiting patiently for the cookies to bake.


Making reindeer food and cookies for Santa!

We always get new PJ's for Christmas. The kids get to open them for St. Nicholas day and wear them thru the month of December for sure. Emerald is very into matching her brother lately.
After we mixed up the reindeer food we stepped outside in the bitter cold and spread the food on the snow. It just helps if there is still snow on the ground!

All dressed up for Christmas







Calvin, kiss my hand.



I know several of these pictures look alike, but I thought they were all individually sweet. I couldn't decide, so I post them all!

We dressed up for church and Emerald kept telling us she looked like a princess in her dress and Daddy (who wore a tie) and Calvin each looked like a prince. It is always fun for Emerald to dress up these days. We headed out to Christmas Eve mass and then got to have dinner at Jeff & Heidi's house after. The kids were all into hugging and kissing each other, so don't think that I was twisting their arm to do this. Emerald thought it was cute to kiss each other's hands (she probably saw it on a movie or something). After that we headed home to make cookies for Santa and some reindeer food. Calvin got to help this year and all the way home he kept asking, "make tookies for Santa? make tookies for Santa?" It was super sweet. With all the excitement, our sweet little Emers stayed awake until almost midnight. Calvin, on the other hand, was asleep in a matter of minutes. I think he was afraid Santa wouldn't come if he was still awake!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Weekly Lobster update


Week 28 and that belly is really starting to stick out there! There are some little feet that are really starting to push hard on my right side, same place all the time.


Just a couple of cute Calvin pics I hadn't posted.

We have begun our non-stress tests! This going to the doctor 2 or 3 times a week is going to get to be a lot! Especially when we are having snow and ice! However, it is such a good thing that they are keeping a close eye on Lobster. For those who might not know, the NST is pretty basic, I just have to sit there with 2 monitors on my belly. One measures any contractions I might have and the other measures the heartbeat. It is pretty awesome to have this monster microphone on Lobster. You can hear every little movement that the baby makes. It is weird to think of this little one moving around so much. It is kind of a nice bonding time with me and the baby. The first NST we had the baby wasn't active enuf so they gave me juice. Then she had to get the doc to look in on me. He checked on things and commented that I had 4 or 5 contractions in the 45 minutes. He offered to check me out more, but I declined, as the contractions weren't really that hard. I'll leave that for the near future. It did kind of freak me out when she had to go get the doc. I had this moment of fear thinking they might say something scary, like bed-rest, we need you to do more testing, etc. I am soooooo not prepared yet!! I still have lists upon lists to make to help us get ready for this coming date. I think the office staff are going to get to know me well, though! All is good news so far!! Our goal on the Lobster front now is to start preparing his/her room. We are waiting until after Christmas guests use the room one last time, then we are going to boot all future guests to the basement (which now has a functional TV thanks to my darling husband). Emerald is so sweet, after each appointment she asks if I got stuck (needle) or if I got pictures (which we get with each sonogram). She doesn't quite understand when I tell her that all we do is listen to the baby. She has begun to ask, "where are we going today when you go to the doctor?" or "whose watching us today?" They are being pretty flexible thru all this shuffling! So, 3 NST's and an appointment before the end of the year. Our next sonogram isn't until Jan. 9.
Here is a little clip I got of some major snow we had a couple of weeks ago. video

Our home thru the eyes of Emerald


This is my table where we eat dinner.

This is where Calvin eats, b/c he's still a baby. Lobster is going to use this chair next.

This is my kitchen where I cook like mom and dad. Santa brought it to us last year.

This is the wall that mom and dad still need to paint.

Some nice cabinet in the kitchen.

This is our kitchen and I help mom and dad load the dishwasher.

This is our table, that we got to sit at for Thanksgiving and Christmas and when friends come over.

Here is the stairs, they lead up to our bedrooms.

Here is our living room, see our tree.

This is Calvin, my brother-bear sitting at the desk.
My puppy-girl and where she lays in her sun-spot.

Emerald wanted to take pictures the other day. She decided that it was important to take pictures of our house and things inside it. It is an interesting perspective to see our house through her eyes! She wanted to show what was important to her, and from her height. Too sweet!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy Christmas weekend




Keegan was making Calvin laugh like crazy

Gavin, super sweet and innocent, right?

Sad to say, but this was the only pic we got of the 4 kids together. Poor Gavin was a little tired.

All the Grissom grandchildren.

Don't let this picture fool you, these 2 can wrestle like you've never seen. They do love each other, though!


The best we can get with all the family trying to look at the camera.

By looking at these 2 pics you can tell Calvin's job is to try and keep up with his big sis. I can't express just how much he looks up to her!


Emerald trying to decide what she wants to paint on her face.

The final choice, a butterfly!

Although, I don't think she needs paint, she's pretty cute anyway.
We received a better pic than this from Garmin, but this was the best I got with my camera.
This weekend was jam-packed!! We started out by making our gingerbread house Friday night. Saturday morning Garmin had their annual Christmas party for the kids. Have I mentioned that I LOVE that Skip works at Garmin?? They are so incredibly awesome to their employees!!! We feel so blessed to have ended up in such a great place and at such an amazing company. Thanks, Garmin, for giving the kids a chance to visit with Santa, enjoy yummy treats, and many other things. They had people there to do hair braiding (Emers was not interested), balloon animals (the line was too long for sweet Calvin), and face painting, which Emerald enjoyed. Calvin was not in the mood for one more line after waiting patiently for Santa. Emerald was a great translator when Santa asked what Calvin wanted, race cars, and what she wanted, (energetically) a baby doll!! She's going to get a real-live baby doll soon after Christmas!! :)

The party was fun and encouraged the kids to sleep on our trip down to Wichita after the party. We traveled down to visit with Steph's parents, although it was brief, and to see our friend, Stephanie and her boys. Steph traveled all the way from New Jersey, so we had to go and visit. Man those boys are growing up so fast. Steph's mom was kind enough to let us crash their family Christmas time and to feed us a great meal--thanks Cassie!! We had a great time, even though it was short. Steph and her sister, Tami, enjoyed laughing over my expanding mid-section, commenting that they'd waited a long time to see that! So have we!! The kids played like they were together all the time, even though Emerald and Keegan haven't played since June, and honestly, Calvin didn't play much with Gavin even then.

We had to cut our visit a little short, due to weather coming in and our having to drive back to KC in the weather. It was kind of yucky ice part of the way, with horrible high winds. It worried me a little after our car accident last year. I joked with Skip that I could have added to the stress of the drive home by claiming to be in labor :) He didn't find it too humerous! We made it home thru the winds, ice, and snow and actually were able to discuss baby names. I think we may have our top 3 picks of both boy and girl names. Maybe Lobster will end up with a name after all (although Lobster is growing on us all). Sorry, you'll have to wait until this baby decides to enter the world to find out 1) if it's a boy or girl, and 2) just which name we chose in the end. I know, that really makes some of you mad. Sorry, but that's just the way we do things and it works for us!! Only about 70 days left until our actual due date anyway, so really it's not too far away!