photo taken by Angela Speiker

Saturday, January 31, 2009

5 weeks old today

Zach says, "look, you can see all of my face!!"

I like how this pic shows his face, name, and footprints in the background.

I love it when he holds my finger.

So tiny, such cute piggies.
When I walked in the other day, this is how I found our sweet Z-man. Lobster was hanging out in his crib. The nurse thought Zach needed some loving.

Zachary is 5 weeks old today! It's funny, when someone asks how old he is, I have to stop and think. You see, when you are in the NICU, age is determined by gestational age still. So, I have to stop and think who is asking me. If I'm at the hospital, Zach is 36 and 4, or would be gestationally (in utero) 36 weeks and 4 days. If I am in the "real" world, he is now 5 weeks old. I know a lot of these pics are similar, but I wanted to post them b/c they show off Zachary's beautiful face. How awesome it is each time we walk in the room!
It was a beautiful day here today, over 70 degrees!! The kids (that includes Skip) enjoyed an awesome present we received at Christmas but hadn't gotten to use, a soccer goal for our back yard. We all had so much fun kicking it around and truly think that Emerald has a lot of potential to be quite the soccer player in her future. Calvin, well, he's got a ways to go. Then they had fun playing on the swingset, which has been renamed by the kids, Garmin. We've decided that it is now called Fort Garmin. Emerald thinks it is tall, like Daddy's work, so she's going to call it Garmin. Another funny story to share, on the way to school the other day Emerald had a hissy fit b/c I didn't put up my "map to show us where to go." She got mad at me for not using my "Garmin" to "tell us how to get there." She also told Daddy the exact same thing the night before. Skip told his co-worker that our GPS is making our child too dependent when we can't even drive the 0.8 miles to the school w/o use of the map. Pretty cute if you ask me.
I had tears yesterday. It was a rough day. I think I mentioned that Zach had to have another (standard) head ultrasound the other day. The results came back and there was a note that asked the nurses to call the neonatologist down to talk with me. That can't be good, right? He wanted to share that they did find a minor, very small bleed in Zach's brain. I've confirmed with many that this is fine, normal, not to worry at all! It still scares a mommy a little bit. So, yesterday they did an MRI on Zachary. Results were back and all is fine. They just wanted to do the MRI to make sure, confirm, that all was well. The doc said that he was really looking for major bleeds, and scarring that would show a major bleed. They didn't see any scarring at all, and the bleed that they saw really was small, minor. So, don't stress, just had to mention it. Then, yesterday Zachary wouldn't eat. He didn't take his bottles well for the nurses, and wouldn't nurse for me at all for one of the feedings. That was a first. He just wouldn't wake up. He was a super sleepy boy. It kind of freaked me out, b/c there was mention of possibly having to put his ng tube back in if he wouldn't eat. That would set us back a week or more if that were the case. I really didn't want him to step backwards! Luckily, he woke up at the next feeding and nursed for a half hour. Way to go Z man! He was a little sleepy thru the night last night, but didn't do too bad for me today. He also hadn't had a bowel movement in 3 1/2 days, and with a little help today, he filled 4 diapers in under 5 minutes. I think that was part of his problem with eating!
We spent a lot of today working on Zachary's room. It's starting to look like a place we could actually bring a baby home to!

I was going to blog last night, but it was a long, tiring night. Good thing I didn't write, b/c I was thinking of a post titled, "I'm tired" and was going to list all the things I am tired of, including most of all, that I am just tired. The running, the going, the constant scheduling for the big kids, the tired feeling of being split constantly, needing to stop for groceries or other things we need, or want for Zachary and the rest of the family and not wanting to take the time, tired of the small amount of time with my husband and kids, tired of Zach's room not being ready for him, tired of the dog being needy--how dare her :), tired of feeling guilty about Zach doing so well when so many other babies in the NICU aren't doing as well, tired of a constant mess in my house, tired of feeling lost and confused about some things, tired of trying to pump and not getting very much but knowing my baby needs it so much, tired of a lot of things. I think my post, had I written it last night, would have sounded much more negative than this, believe me. I feel differently today. I'm still tired, very tired, but my perspective has once again changed. Like always, you start feeling down on yourself and you talk to one other family and realize you don't have it so bad. Let me share a story:

The baby across the "street" from us when we were in the NICU was named Dawson. Dawson was born 4 months early and weighed 1 lb 4 oz at birth. His mom, Christy, and I talked quite a lot, seeing that we spent so much time near each other. I love Christy, she is such a down-to-earth person. She is from Hutchinson, which is near Skip's hometown of McPherson. Christy is also Catholic. I learned that Christy's husband, Aaron, passed away in August, and never met his baby boy. I feel so bad for Christy, being so far from home, having waited over 2 months with her little man in the hospital, not having her spouse to lean on in this trying time in life. However, you talk with Christy, and feeling bad or sorry is not something you even think of. She is always so happy, so positive. Christy is away from home, living in a friend's apartment. She's had so much to go thru. I share this story, not so you will feel bad for her, but so you might understand what I mean when I say that we can't feel bad for Zach's case. He is so much better than a lot of other babies in the NICU. There are so many other stories I've heard. Here is a link to the newspaper article written about Dawson last week,
I also tell you this story to ask you to share your prayers with Christy, Dawson, and Christy's family. Dawson has had a really bad week and isn't doing so well. I feel so blessed that we have so many people praying for us, caring about us. I just ask that if you have even 30 seconds to ask God to be with and protect this loved little boy and his family. Thank you!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Calvin's birthday

Mommy and Daddy love you Calvin!! Happy 2nd birthday big boy!

Calvin woke up wondering where the Christmas tree went?

"Helping" make the cake.

still "helping"

Grandma enjoyed her time with the kids!

There's my birthday boy!!

Calvin loves having his family with him.

Posing with the finished product.

Blowing out his candle. He thought he was a pretty big boy!

Pop-pop teaching Calvin bad habits.

Hamming it up.

Emerald loves playing dress-up. Gotta love the red socks with the outfit. Can I use this one in the future w/ boyfriends?

I feel like such a bad mommy. I don't want anyone to think that Zach is my only concern right now!! I really have been keeping up with the other 2, also. I just know that Zach's condition changes almost daily and that is why he's been getting the spotlight lately. I just wish I could divide myself into 2 equal mommies and be at home all the time for Em & Cal, and be at the hospital for Z. It doesn't work that way, does it? Em yet again asked, "who's watching me today, where am I going today?" They don't even bat an eye as I run out the door day after day heading to the hospital. It's all just routine to them. I guess that's good, easier than if they were crying when I left. I'm so excited and nervous to see how they will react when we don't run off anymore, and when we have another family member here to divide our attention. It will be fun to watch!

We celebrated Calvin's birthday here at the house, nothing fancy at all. He had 3 of his grandparents here, so that was fun for him, along with Heidi, Jeff, and Josiah. Lucky for me, he's still too little to understand that there was no "big" party thrown for him. He did get to "help" make the cake, and enjoyed licking all the icing off fingers. Emerald of course had to "help" as well, telling Calvin how to do it the entire time. My life has been full of "helpers" lately and I do want to recognize that w/o all of you, we wouldn't be surviving. Thanks so much!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What a beautiful face!

No nasal cannula!! Chunking up, too!

So I realized the other day that we were never able to take that "standard" family pose after Zachary's birth. It's a little late, but here are the 3 of us. We'll have to wait a little while longer to get the 5 of us all together. I can't wait!!

Maybe one of my new favorites??

Steph--the following are just for you!!

My sweet little boy's tiny feet.

Can you start to see those chubby cheeks and double-chin?

No nasal cannula!!
This is a great pic to imagine when reading the description below. This is still with his nasal cannula and ng tube in. All gone now!!
This picture is so sweet b/c he's starting to get enough meat on his bones to make wrinkles on his arms.
Daddy's first opportunity to give Zach his bottle. He didn't do too bad with it.

I went in last night and finally, a month his birth, I got to see my son's full face. He got his ng tube out!!! What a glorious day!! I walked in and the awesome nurse, Nicole, acted so excited. She was so thrilled to tell me that his tube was out! She also told me a funny story. Dr. Lancaster had come in to see Zachary and ordered that they could try to pull it out and do all oral feeds. He was thinking later evening, or even the next day. Nicole walked over to Zach's bedside 20 minutes later and there he was, holding his ng tube in his hand, smiling up at her with a huge smile she said. She told me she'd ran for the camera to take a pic for me, but they were all out of film in their Polaroid. Wish I'd have brought in a disposable camera for them! Of course, again, I didn't bring my camera last night, but will do so tonight. She told me most babies fuss when they pull their tubes out, or at least sneeze a bunch, but Zach was just as content as could be. What a sweet baby we have! I guess he heard the doctor's order and decided to help the nurse out. Besides, I'm sure he thought that if the doc was ok with the tube out, then by golly he was done with the tube up his nose.

It was such an incredibly sweet moment for me to walk over to his crib and see his face. That sounds so silly, to look at your son's face when he's been here for a month. However, it is so different looking at him with nothing at all attached to that beautiful, sweet, innocent precious baby face. You see, we've been thru a serious of things in our way while looking at our son. First, there was the CPAP, then he was intubated, next he had the nasal cannula, and most of that time he additionally had the ng tube, too. It has progressively gotten much easier to hold him as well. As you place your ginormous hand on his teeny, tiny head, you have to maneuver all those wires and cords around his head w/o hurting him. It was an awesome moment picking him up and holding his head in my hand w/o one single thing in the way of his head. Yes, believe it or not, I cried. :) I love all of these positive, wonderful steps of progress he is accomplishing.

As of last night our little Z man weighed 5 lb 4 oz!! He's a growing boy! Zach was having his hearing screening done when I left the hospital last night. I guess we'll get the results of that today when we go in. He had another (standard) re-check of a head ultrasound to make sure he didn't have any cranial bleeds. Haven't yet received that result, either. They also tell us that he is scheduled in the next couple of weeks to get his eyes checked. Again, all standard stuff.

It has been interesting as the itemized insurance bills start rolling in from this entire process. All I can say is thank God for good insurance. We are so blessed that in the midst of all this chaos, the one burden we truly are not all that worried about is paying for this entire ordeal. We are so blessed to have insurance through Garmin and to know that they have been great about taking care of paying our bills. You would have your jaw drop at seeing some of the charges from this all. We are joking about adding it all up in the end and trying to take a guess at how much this will all cost. Unbelievable!! However, having spent as much time in the NICU, I can truly believe that it expensive, and that a lot of the charges truly are worth every penny if it can keep my baby boy healthy. There are so many people involved in this process, nurses, nurse practitioners, neonatologists, lab techs, sonographers (??), all the millions of supplies we go thru on a daily basis, the secretaries we talk to each day we call up there, radiologists, respiratory therapists, social workers, dietitians, hospital administrations, hospital records, obstetrician, perinatologist, and that is honestly all we have physically met with--I'm sure there are thousands more we aren't even aware of behind the scenes. It is a miraculous web intertwined that does work amazingly well together.

Sorry for the lack of pictures for forever. We've been extremely busy, go figure, and finally found some time to sit and add pics. I'm a little behind. Look for more pics to come soon. Including Calvin's birthday and some special moments.

We've seen 6 discharges since we moved to PCN on Friday. 2 of them were sets of twins. Another was a foster care situation. It was kind of bitter sweet for me, b/c a lot of the nurses felt so bad for that baby. Although it truly wasn't exactly the same, that situation took me back to 2 and 4 years ago. I am positive that both Emerald and Calvin were laying in a hospital nursery, nurses caring for them both, and wondering just where those sweet babies would end up. I heard our nurse the other day going on about how this baby's life would end up. I couldn't help but speak up and remind them that there was potential for good things. After all, my babies (I hope) have ended up in a good place with a good family. It was so very interesting to be on the other end, wondering, and was so nice to allow me a moment to reflect on the birth experience of both Emerald and Calvin. Seeing all these discharges happening inspires me--we so need to prepare this house for Zach's homecoming. We will be having a "Gotcha Day" for Zachary, too, and it will be happening sometime soon. No, we don't have a date!! I just know that w/o his ng tube in, we are that much closer.

I will try to get pics today and update them soon. I'll also post when we hear test results from the above mentioned tests. We remain optimistic (disregard my previous negative post, really, I was just frustrated) that all will be ok and Zachary can come home to the chaos of the Pankewich household and survive this noise. At least he is preparing for the noise in the PCN b/c they have a radio on 24/7, lights on all day long, and with 8 babies in his room, and next door to newborn nursery, there are big baby cries constantly. It is just preparing him, right, for his new world at home with Laney, Emerald, and Calvin! Good luck handsome baby boy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another big day and a move to PCN!!

I'm sitting in my chair, feeding my "plastic baby" at 8:00 am this morning. My cell phone rings, which is a little odd at that time of morning, not too many people calling me on my cell that early. It comes up on the caller id as the NICU! Kind of freaks a mommy out, since they really don't call you, you usually call them for most things. I answer, scared, tentative, b/c of course the worst thoughts are going thru my mind. The nurse on the other end opens the conversation with, "Don't worry, everything is ok." Whew......she most know that we are all thinking the worst! She was just calling to tell us that they moved Zach to the Progressive Care Nursery (PCN). This is a step-down nursery, where he needs less care. She explained they are set to get triplets any day now and were looking to clear out a room or 2 in the NICU. They look for their most stable patients, their patients needing the least amount of critical care, and move them down! YEAH for Zach!! He is "most stable" and got moved. I have to say, there are parts of the NICU I miss already, like having your own room with lots of room to maneuver around. Not so much in PCN. I also miss the companionship of the fellow NICU parents. I've bonded with many of them, and I will miss that. Like the mom across the aisle from Hutch. She is so sweet! Oh well, not complaining at all. They started some more paperwork to get us "ready just in case" like scheduling his hearing screening, his Hep B shot, and mentioning a few other things. He still has his NG tube in, so don't go thinking he's headed home tomorrow, we still have at least a week, maybe 2, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They are really working on bottling him more, b/c he has to do full oral feeds before leaving. Such exciting news!

We planned to go up anyway, today, before mom left. Mom and I brought the big kids with us. Yikes, man are they super busy, especially in a smaller space! Calvin kind of got to "hold" Zach tonight, which was special for him. Emerald wasn't in the mood b/c she was too busy showing off for the nurses. It's more fun getting attention on yourself than sharing (yet again) with a younger brother :) I'm sure she'll be excited when we get him home, and I'll be more willing with less wires and tubes.

Sadly, mom went home today. We are on our own, yikes! We have asked for help, yes, me, Stephanie Pankewich, asked for help!! Go me!! We have been offered lots of help from local friends, and are starting to really utilize them. This will help us to make it up to the hospital for feedings and so Skip can get some time in. Thanks again for all those wonderful people offering us your services, you are too awesome!

It was so super nice having our family here to help us. They have been incredible cooks, maids, chauffeurs, shoppers, etc. I don't know that we would ever have been able to do this w/o you all and please, please know you are appreciated. I'm going to miss them all so much, but am also looking forward to maybe getting back into a bit of a routine. Then again, that might not happen yet, as life is still pretty crazy.

It's time to feed my boy again. I'm headed back down to the lower level. It's so nice to say that :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Zach had a big day!

We had some great news today--Zach got his nasal cannula out!!! They removed it at 6 pm yesterday and hasn't had any spells since! That is fantastic news! He also topped 5 lb tonight!! He weighed in at 5 lb 0.1 oz!! Way to grow little man!

When I was there yesterday I finally got to speak with one of the docs, something we actually hadn't done in well over a week. Really, the nurses and nurse practioners answer all our questions and Zach hasn't had much change in the last week. So, when Dr. Lancaster came in yesterday he mentioned that we'd be trying to wean him off the very minor wisp of oxygen he was getting (0.1 L at 21-35% most times). So, I thought that maybe in the next few days, or week we'd hear about them working on this. I didn't know that they would try it that night! Needless to say, I was one excited mommy and almost cried when I saw his sweet face w/o the cannula in the way. Daddy came to the hospital tonight, too, and was quite excited, too. He was super happy to get the patch that was still attached to the side of his face off.

When the were weighing him tonight, I had such a sweet moment of seeing my little boy in all his glory. While most mommies have seen this plenty of times, I really haven't. I think maybe once, in nearly 4 weeks, we've seen a completely naked Zach. Tonight, he had no clothes on, no nasal cannula, they'd taken off his pulse-ox (sp?) of his foot, and they were changing out his HUGS tag (his safety jewelry) to make it looser. So, there he was, ng tube and 3 leads, and the rest was just our sweet naked baby boy. I so wish I'd remembered to take my camera tonight. I was chatting with the nurse tonight and asked if he liked his bath. I'm his mommy and can't even tell you if my son likes bath time. Haven't gotten to experience that yet!

We had a great feeding time today with Zach. 3 times nursing and he did great. They are also going to work on giving him another bottle tonight. That is something we want them to do more of, but somehow that had been forgotten or misunderstood. The more he works on the oral feedings, the faster he comes home. Yeah!! We are realizing we need to get this house in order ASAP!! Not by tomorrow, but he is on his way to coming home!

My mom goes home tomorrow. Sad!! I've really appreciated having her here to help me out. I had my 4 week check with my OB today and got permission to start lifting the kids again, ouch! He also recommended that I get more rest and make sure I am eating properly. Sure!! He told me my incision looked great. How does a scar look great?? Needless to say, it does hurt somewhat still, but it seems to be healing properly according to the doc.

I am going to take some good pics next time I'm there. You won't even recognize our chubby baby! The cheeks, and double-chin on this boy. I'm loving it! How does a 5 lb baby seem chubby? It's all relative, isn't it??

My sweet baby boy is doing fantastic. We feel so lucky and loved!! Thanks for everyone's continued support. We do appreciate you all!

Look out next week. The big kids are going to be going thru some SERIOUS de-tox. Oh my!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet Calvin!!

I can't believe my munchkin is 2 years old today! How fast time flies when you're having fun with a toddler. He has changed so much in the last 2 years. I still thank God daily for Leticia, Calvin's birthmother, for having the courage to carry him to term and make an adoption plan. We can't imagine our lives without our sweet little boy. To think that 2 years ago he was here, and we didn't even know that he'd be part of our lives yet!!

Calvin, you started out this little bitty stinker. You really didn't like to sleep much, but you were so cute, it helped make it a little easier. You have ALWAYS adored your big sister, from day one. The moment he was placed in our arms I was in love with my little boy. He can cuddle with you like nobody else. And while Emerald is more of a daddy's girl, I'd have to say that Calvin is my special boy, having his mommy stand up for him on more than one occasion. Calvin, you have learned to sleep, quite well I have to say, and have developed the vocabulary of a 7 year old! You are going to be a lawyer when you grow up, I'm convinced, with the way you can already debate with us (most especially at meal time). You are forever trying to do everything your big sister is capable of doing, and are almost successful in your attempts. You love your Bo-Bo monkey (the one Emerald gave you from day one), your music at bed time, Elmo, Dora and Diego, and your family. You are generous with your hugs, your kisses, and your "I love you mommy, daddy, Geee, soooooooooo much!". You are so sweet with the concept of your baby brother, even if you have spent so little time with him yet. We can't wait to watch you take on this new role soon. You love playing outside and are such a daredevil on the swing set. Your closest friends are Avery and Carson and Aubrey. That is to say, beyond Emerald and Laney girl. You can also throw quite the hissy fit if you don't get your way. It is so easy to tell when you are fake crying for us, you look around to see who's watching, and then turn that bottom lip out and cry like crazy. Your hurt cry is so sad, though, and always makes me want to run to your rescue. You like for your "owies" to be kissed and it always makes you feel better. You are also always easy to tell when you are sick, mostly b/c you get really quiet and don't talk. It is so sad for me to see you sick. Your learning new songs daily, and love to sing to us, especially Chocolate Moose, ABC song, and today, Happy Birthday. You are trying to master your alphabet (with Gee's help). You really are a boy, loving your trucks, cars, and playing/throwing the ball with us. However, you do have an older sister and we do occasionally find you with her princess high heels on, pushing the baby stroller, and wearing the princess crown carrying a purse. My sweet little boy, I love you so much! I feel bad that during your first birthday we were crazy busy moving in this house. Now, during your special time of year, we are also crazy busy. Life is super busy, and you are taking it like such a big boy!!

Happy birthday to my sweet Calvin! We love you more than you will ever know!

Technical note--I am trying to add an image and blogger is not cooperating. I hate to post this w/o a picture, just know that I tried and love you "muuuuuuuuuuch".

Monday, January 19, 2009

Growing, growing

Zach is up to 4 lb 12 oz and is 16 1/2" long!! He is a little growing man!! I just can't keep up with how fast he's gaining weight. He also gained some new "jewelry" yesterday. They finally put a safety bracelet on his ankle to make sure nobody "takes" him w/o permission. I love all the safety precauctions we have to take in our day and age. Poor little Zach has so much stuff attached to him right now.

More later, but I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the posititve comments I've gotten recently. Sorry, the other day was a rough day, and we will have those. It is hard having to split my time and it is SUPER tough having a baby in the NICU. Sorry for venting in public format, I just needed to get some stuff off my chest. We will keep praying for Zach to continue to get stronger and for his mommy to be reminded that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. He also gives us people in our lives to help us get through it all.

We celebrated a family birthday party for Calvin on Saturday night. Pics to come later. He loved his "cake, cake". Then, that night, Emerald was too grumpy to say prayers. Calvin chimed in all on his own, no prompting, "Pray Zach gets strong to come home." Oh he knows how to make the tears flow on this mommy. I have such incredible children!! I love you all 3!!

We spent yesterday celebrating my nephew Josiah's baby dedication at church. He looked so super handsome. I forgot my camera, seriously I just don't think anymore, but I'm sure you can check out Heidi and Jeff's blog to see him in a few days. We had a great day together. The kids love hanging out at "Feffy's house" which is now Josiah's house.

Pop Pop got to go up to the hospital with daddy last night to see Zach. Zach also took his entire feeding with a bottle once yesterday, and another half bottle a second time!! The nurse said he has a "great suck" which is good to hear.

Off to play with Em and Cal.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Upping the feedings and venting

Warning--this is a post with too much emotion. A little rambling, but it feels good to get some of this out, even if it is just writing it.

We are upping Zach's feedings as of tonight. He still hasn't officially taken his first bottle really (daddy tried, but he was too tired/full). They want us to try to have 3-4 nursing/bottle sessions a day now. He actually nursed twice in a row tonight and did fantastic! We are so proud of our beautiful little boy. His weight is up to 4 lb 5 oz now. We also got complete results back from a test they took shortly after birth and everything is fine!! YEAH!! After I fed him tonight, we just hung out, loving on each other. He felt so great in my arms. It is nice to have the chance to hold him now that he is in his crib. I feel more powerful as a parent. As a NICU parent you feel pretty helpless most of the time. They give you these tiny baby steps as "responsibility" as a parent--you can take temp and change a diaper! Wow!! I have also accepted more of a role now as far as feeding goes b/c if I think Zach eats well then he won't get an additional feed thru his ng tube. This is a lot of pressure on me as a mommy, determining if he "gets enough". Also odd since I am so not used to this breastfeeding thing anyway. My other 2 babies were bottle fed, you put in 4 ounces and saw if they ate it or not. Now I have more pressure to make sure my preemie is getting enough food! Yikes!! Now, when they told me he could nurse 4 times a day I turned on the water works. Mind you, I would LOVE to nurse my baby 4 times a day. The tears come into play b/c it is nearly impossible for me to do that and I feel so helpless. I want to be there for my baby, and I don't feel like a good mommy saying no to this request. The schedule is not as easy as it would seem:
  • Zach eats at 8:30, 11:30, 2:30, 5:30 and repeat the cycle.
  • Emerald goes to school 3 days a week at noon off at 3. That makes the 11:30 and 2:30 feedings impossible.
  • We leave our house at 4:15 in order to make it to the 5:30 feeding. While we are only 15 miles away (close in comparison to others), it is in some traffic at times, snow tonight, and normal getting out of the house routine with 2 young toddlers ("but mommy I want one more hug", "wait, come see this picture I made".) You get the idea. Once we are at the hospital we have to always park forever away, walk in the cold inside (which by the way still kind of hurts by late evening due to these lovely staples they inserted and removed in my abdomen), walk to the far elevator (the close one is closed due to repair of course), and wait, forever, and ever, for the elevator to arrive. Take it to the 4th floor, usually stopping at every floor, stop and use the restroom (they don't have one inside the NICU and you'd have to re-wash), hang your coat, and buzz in. You then have to sign a form saying you are healthy each day, sign in a book, and then wait your turn to scrub your fingers/arms until they bleed (well, almost). You then move sleeves up, scrub the heck under nails, up the arms, and fingers for a solid 3 minutes (it is longer than you'd think). Then, finally, you can walk back to Sunflower Street to room 22 and finally walk into Zach's room--ahhhhh....
  • Next you wait for the nurse to give you a report, if she's close by, deposit the milk supply from the last 24 hours. Finally, it's then about 5:10-5:15, start temp and diaper duty so that by 5:30 he can eat. Pump after the feeding. Usually you stay for quite a while and don't get home until about 9:30 or 10 and finally get to eat dinner, maybe.
  • At 10:00 try to eat dinner fast, deal with bills, insurance needs (yes, that is a big deal these days), clean the house, prepare for the next day, give the dog attention, talk about important issues of the day, etc.
  • Repeat daily until you are so tired you want to drop, but need to stay happy and positive for all 3 of your kids' sakes!

So, while it sounds easy to pop up to the hospital for a feeding, it takes a lot longer than you'd think. Of course we are hoping that someone (usually daddy or grandma this week) is taking good care of the big kids at home during this routine.

I am also extremely frustrated right now with the pumping situation. The one huge thing I can do for Zach right now is to pump every 2-3 hours. I can't bathe him yet, I can't even walk around with him in my arms, he's attached to too many cords for that. There are way too many "I can't" things to list, so I'll stop. I can pump, and I am trying to do just that! However, my supply is dwindling dangerously low right now and I am freaking out that my supply will go away before he comes home. this is just another reason I'd love to be at the hospital to feed him more often. I always do much better when I'm at the hospital. I am told to do all these things to help me out, and I am, really I am. It just isn't helping. And me, the one who cries anyway, the hormonal post-partum woman, the mommy of 3, the mommy with a baby in the NICU, the person recovering from the C-section, the mommy worried about everthing, just can't help but cry, tears and tears, crying!! This just sucks at times!! It's good, there is so much positive, I know! I believe in the positive, I do! But, I have to say, that there are many, many more moments than I care to admit, that THIS JUST SUCKS!!!!!!!!!! I didn't expect this to be super easy, but honestly, this is just really hard. That's all I can say! I know Zach's doing great, but he's still not good enough to come home. He is still on his nasal cannula, and that means at least another couple of weeks before he could come home at the earliest. He's working on the eating thing (thus my rampage above). However, I want him home. I want my 2 kids to get to know their brother, and understand that he isn't just a thing we go "to the doctor" to see. He really is supposed to be part of our family, here, in the house. It stinks worrying about whether he drops his stats, is the test going to come back positive or not, will he be ok when I leave him. It sucks that I still hurt at times. It sucks that I can't pick up my big kids when they want me to hold them. It sucks that I am complaining right now. So, I'll stop, and be positive again.

It's the weekend. Skip is home now. We get to celebrate with family this weekend. Our sweet nephew, Josiah, is having a baby dedication on Sunday. That will be a positive occassion. We are also celebrating with family our sweet Calvin's upcoming second birthday. He will love it. We will try to work on the house and get it ready for Zach. It still has a long way to go.

I'm off to kiss and tuck in my big kids (who are already asleep). I didn't even get to see Emerald tonight. She was still napping when I left and asleep when I got home. Let's also hope Calvin sleeps thru the night. Not something he did well last night--4 times crying in the night, and awake to pump. Good night all!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Open air "crib" pics of Zach

I wanted to post some pics of Zach in his open air crib. It's really more like a bassinet. I am loving that he almost appears that he has a double-chin and folds in his little arm now. Pack on that weight little Z man. Strange that my 4 pounder looks big to me already! Haven't been up to the hospital today, so no new news to report yet. Mostly just pics for now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More positive news

We had more good news today--weight gain and we are starting a bottle feeding tonight/tomorrow!! Zach is already up to 4 lb 3 oz!! Man, when they talk about beefing him up, they mean it! He still has a nasty diaper rash, but it looked a little better tonight. They asked "permission" tonight to begin giving Zach a bottle. Like I'm supposed to say no?? One of the 3 major things he has to do is be able to eat on his own (no feeding tube obviously). So, this is the first step toward getting that major thing accomplished. He also nursed like a mad man tonight and was able to entirely skip the feed thru his feeding tube!! I also got my first burp from my little Zach man (first of many, many more to follow if he's like the other men in my life). This is all such great news. Let's see, what else?? He got so warm today they had to take off some blankets, which again, is awesome news. That is another of the 3 major things he has to do to go home--maintain his body temp outside of a bed warmer. No problem at all there!! So we can check that off the list. The last of the 3 major things is to not have any "spells" for a period of time (5 days maybe). A spell means that he has to not drop stats or stop breathing/heartrate, etc. He did have a bit of a problem with that tonight after he ate. The nurse took him out of my arms and played with him for awhile b/c his O2 level dropped pretty low and Zach's complexion turned rather ashy/purplish. It was a little scary, but would have been a lot more scary at home and not in an intensive care unit with tons of nurses/doctors around us. He's in a pretty safe place right now!

Aunt Heidi, Uncle Jeff, and Heidi's mom, Laura, got to visit Zach tonight. I guess you could say Josiah visited, by coming to the hospital, even though he couldn't go back in the unit. It is fun to show him off. They were all finding features that seemed similar to Josiah. It is fun to try to figure out who he looks most like. On the other hand, it is still a little difficult for this mommy since he still has his feeding tube, nasal cannula, and other monitors on him. This mommy wants to take her newborn and look at him, wire-free, and inspect him all over. I couldn't even tell you if he has any birthmarks, b/c it is pretty hard to look at him right now. We are just thrilled to get our few moments of starting into that tiny, adorable face and falling deeper in love with this new little Pankewich.

Emerald announced today that she has "decided" that she officially likes the name Zachary now. She's "not sure we can call him Lobster anymore." When I confirmed that it'd be ok to still call him Lobster at times, she said, "that might be ok, but I still like Zach." So, we have the official approval (2 1/2 weeks later) from Miss Emerald to name our son Zachary!!

I was able to spend some time in the parent room tonight and was chatting with a few other parents. We are so lucky!! Of the 4 of us parents in there tonight, 2 of us delivered at 31 weeks and 2 of them delivered at 24 weeks! One family had twin boys born at 24 weeks, after being on bed rest in the hospital for 8 weeks prior. How do you handle 2 of these little creatures? Another couple was telling their story of how she lost 2 babies, and then delivered her little girl at 24 weeks, 1 lb. 6 oz. If you have a moment, pray for baby Miranda, hoping that she continues to turn into a healthy little girl for her excited parents. Being a part of the 4th floor NICU at Overland Park has really made me appreciate even further the awesomeness of God! How lucky we all are for having healthy family members and children. I am also so thankful for all the nurses, doctors, and staff in our NICU. They are amazing and care so much for our little miracles.

Sappy mommy going to bed now. Thanksgiving prayers for a healthy Skip, Emerald, Calvin, and Zachary. I love each of you more than you can ever realize!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

He's still our lobster!!

Can you tell he is filling out more?

OK, I just had to buy this bib when we were in Maine! Since he was our "lobster" it was only appropriate. Maybe it won't be quite so huge on him in what, a year?? Pretty cute in my opinion! We did have to rip it out of Emerald's hands b/c she wanted Mango to wear Lobster's bib.

Zach remained in his crib all day and all night. We were warned that there might be a chance that he would have to go back to his isolette if his body temp dropped or if he lost weight. They moved the isolette out of his "cubicle" entirely today, so we are pretty confident that they won't need it now!! Yeah for Zachary! You are such a trooper little man! It is so incredible to walk into his room and seem him in a little bed with our clothes on him, and with our blankets under and over him. He is feeling more like a little baby now, instead of this scary doll that we shouldn't touch.
So many of you have asked what type of living arrangements little Zach has. He is in a 42 bed NICU. They have each baby inside a little "cubicle" which consists of 3 walls that are about 3/4 high, with curtains at the top which remain closed most of the time. The other wall is a curtain that is open most of the time, or you can close it for privacy. It is kind of funny, b/c you sit in your little room and even though there is a privacy issue, you can't help but hear what is going on around you. Zach is on Sunflower Street, as they name each little wing of the unit a different flower name and have the walls painted rather cute. I'll try to take pics sometime soon.
The baby beside us went home tonight. He was born at 24 weeks, and had been in the NICU for about 12 weeks. It is always emotional for me to see a family going home b/c it is nice to know that they really do let us take our babies home at some point! Being side-by-side neighbors, we have talked a lot with that family and are really happy for them. We know our time will come soon. It is weird b/c the 3 babies close to Zach have all left in the last 10 days or so. We are beginning to wonder if Zach is scaring them off?? Maybe it's all those stinky diapers!! Man that boy can go thru some diapers. He also has a very nasty diaper rash right now, and they are trying to make it better. Poor little Zach.
We took an infant CPR class tonight--a requirement for all NICU parents prior to discharge. No, that doesn't mean we are being discharged any time soon, it is just something we can get done now (especially while my mom is here to watch Em and Cal) so we got it done. We took this class for adoption requirements, too. We scared another pregnant couple in the class tonight, b/c there were 2 of us couples from the NICU in the class, both born about 9 weeks early. The poor pregnant couples had this look of fear hearing our story, and I hated letting them hear us.
Calvin and Emerald have loved having grandma here this week. I think maybe they are pushing her just a little and trying to get their way. Our sweet Calvin turns 2 in a week!! How did that happen?? Seriously, I was holding Zach yesterday, then came home and was just holding Calvin. He was tired and just laid in my arms looking up at me, letting me rock him. It was such a super sweet moment for the 2 of us. However, he did feel like a huge monster at the time. I remember when we brought Calvin home and Emerald felt so huge. Now my "big" little boy is seeming to grow up even faster overnight. He really can be such a cuddler at times, when he wants.
Emerald had a great day at school today. When I picked her up the teacher was trying to decipher Zach's status vs what Emerald was reporting. She said Emerald told her "Zach is in Calvin's crib now." Which, impressively, the teacher figured meant he was in a crib, but assumed he wasn't home yet. Our sweet little munchkins--so strange to wonder how they are deciphering all this chaos.
It's nearly midnight and I really need at least a couple of hours of sleep before waking again. So, for now, that is all I will report. I will try to remember my camera tomorrow and take pics of Zach in his crib. I forgot it tonight--too much to think of gosh darn it. I really feel like a chicken with my head cut off now. Running around, feeling like I'm accomplishing nothing and everything just keeps piling up around me. I keep thinking one of these days I will have my house back in order, and everything back together, right??