Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zachary's Birth Story

(This is written mostly for my and Zachary's own information. Be forewarned that it may not be the most riveting blog post you've ever read! :) Also, a disclaimer that there are a few "graphic" c-section photos.) 

Dearest Zachary,

Nearly 2 weeks ago, on January 15th, at 11:43 a.m. you entered our lives. You were 8 lbs 1 oz and 20 inches of perfection. Since this time we have gotten to know you as an easy going, low key, good sleeper of a newborn (at least so far anyway!). You rarely cry, and when you do there is something you clearly want (to be fed, to have your diaper changed, to be burped, etc) and when you get what you want, you stop crying immediately. You have only woken up once at night every night (except one) since we've brought you home. We feed you at 11:00, you wake up around 7/7:30 and you wake up once to eat around 3:00 a.m. You go back to sleep easily, and for all of this we are immensely grateful!

We--your Mommy, Daddy, and big Brother Ryan--love you to pieces! Ryan adores you and wants to hold, hug, and kiss you all the time. Even though he loves you so much he is still adjusting to being a big brother and has a hard sometimes with how much of Mommy and Daddy's time you take. But overall, he is making us very, very proud.

I want to tell you about the day you were born, as it was a very special day, and I don't want to ever forget it.

It was one week past your due date and you had not come on your own. Mommy had hoped that you would come by yourself and I wouldn't have to have surgery. But you had plans of your own. On the day of my scheduled c-section we were supposed to be at the hospital at 8:30 in the morning, for a c-section at 10:30 a.m. We didn't set an alarm because Ryan has been our alarm for the past three years and we didn't expect today to be any different. But Ryan decided to sleep until almost 7:40 (40 minutes later than usual!), so, we were running a bit late! NeeNee and PopPop arrived almost as soon as we had woken up (as we asked them to be there at 7:45) in order to take care of Ryan while we were at the hospital with you. We got ready, said our last goodbye's to Ryan before you arrived, and headed out the door rather quickly (but not quickly enough!) We didn't arrive until a little after 9:00. But this ended up not being an issue since the first c-section of the day ran late. So, we still had some waiting to do.

I was taken back to "triage" almost immediately. They started an IV, cleaned my belly, and gave me antibiotics. We had a very nice nurse named Jen. She was easy-going and friendly. She made the wait go by quickly. While we were waiting (and the night before) we received many text messages from friends and family (Auntie Catharine, Auntie Cindy, Uncle John, Uncle Mark, NeeNee/PopPop, Aunt Erin, Mrs. Heather, Mrs. Kiersten, Mrs. Sarah, Mrs. Katie) telling us they were thinking of us and hoping all went well. Daddy and I also played "Spot It" to pass the time. Dr. Penn came by to say hello and make sure everything was going ok, and we met the Anesthesiologist. Daddy had to get dressed in his blue scrubs so that he wouldn't bring germs into the OR.

Finally, around 11:10 they took us back to the OR, or rather, we walked back. They placed a spinal in Mommy's back, which is special medicine so that Mommy wouldn't feel any pain during the surgery. Daddy and Dr. Penn held Mommy's hands and it didn't hurt too much at all. Then, very quickly Mommy started to feel very numb. The anesthesiologist had told Mommy that he "prefers to aim too high than too low" and the numbness definitely went up high as Mommy's neck. But Mommy was comfortable, and doing well. They put a little tube in Mommy's nose that gave me some extra oxygen just in case I needed it and they started some medication to keep my blood pressure up as it had started to go down just a little bit.

The doctors put up the "big blue screen" which generally blocks the Mommy and Daddy's view from the surgery and keeps the area where they are cutting sterile. But Mommy reminded Dr. Penn that I wanted to watch, and so he got the mirror out so I could see. They set up the mirror and I watched the entire surgery until they pulled you out. They made the first cut at 11:33 and Dr. Penn explained what everything was as he went along. He even commented on Mommy's "six pack" and Mommy told him not to mess it up! At 11:43 they pulled you out of my belly. The umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck THREE times, and Dr. Penn said, "Wow! This little guy was doing summer saults in there!" Yes, you certainly were! You had been an active little guy throughout my entire pregnancy! You cried a very loud, vigorous cry almost immediately and you kept crying the entire time they cleaned you off, weighed, and measured you. Daddy went to be with you while the doctors sewed me up. I couldn't see you during this time, but I sure could hear you! It was no surprise that your APGAR scores were 9 and 9! In addition to learning that my guess of 8 lbs 2 oz for your birth weight was off only by 1 oz, we also learned that you had a very large head, measuring 38.5 centimeters (the "average" is 34-36 cm). So, needless to say, between your head circumference  and the cord being wrapped around your neck, I was relieved that you ended up coming out by c-section!

Note the umbilical cord around your neck! 

A few minutes later they brought you back into the OR so that I could see you and give you your first kiss. As soon as they brought you up to my face and you heard my voice you stopped crying for the first time. It made my heart melt and tears began to fill my eyes. You were GORGEOUS! I was so thrilled to finally meet the active little boy who had taken up residence in my belly for the past 9 months. My heart was filled with so much joy!
Love at first sight! 
About 30 minutes later I was taken back to recovery, where I was finally reunited with you. You began to nurse immediately and easily. Even though I still didn't have great use of my arms (from the spinal that went up so high!) I was able to enjoy snuggling and cuddling you. Daddy and I just starred at you in amazement! Our second little boy had arrived and we were overjoyed! You were everything we hoped for and more!

About 45 minutes later, since both you and I were very stable and doing well we were taken to our room in the Mother/Baby part of the hospital. This is where we would spend the next two days getting to know each other. Daddy and I enjoyed being with you by ourselves for a bit, but we were also excited to introduce you to the many people who wanted to come and meet you! Auntie Cindy was the first to meet you. Then, shortly before dinner that first night NeeNee, PopPop, and your awesome Big Brother Ryan came to visit.


Watching Ryan meet you for the first time was magical. Ryan was so very, very excited. NeeNee said he was jumping up and down in the elevator talking about going to meet his baby brother. He smiled a huge smile when he saw you and immediately leaned down to give you a kiss. It was clearly love at first sight on his part, just like it was for Mommy and Daddy! NeeNee and PopPop were also thrilled to finally meet you and hold you! Later that night Uncle John came to visit, too. He was clearly so proud holding his second nephew and Godchild. Auntie Catharine and Uncle Mark would each come to visit the next day. Everyone in the family was smitten with you from the start!

The day of your birth was an amazing day indeed. It is a day for which I will be forever grateful and that I will never forget. I can't wait to watch you grow into the amazing boy and man that I know you will be. But in the meantime, I will cherish your every newborn coo, cuddle, and snuggle. I love you so much Zachary Joseph!



Monday, January 7, 2013

3 years

My Dearest Ryan,

Today you turned 3 years old. It is difficult to believe that 3 years have passed already since the day you entered our lives. I remember the day vividly, and as I currently sit here not only thinking of your own birth, but also anticipating your brother's arrival, I am especially conscious of the memories, feelings, and thoughts I had in the days after your birth. It was an overwhelming time. Our life was changed forever. At first it wasn't always easy to see the amazing ways in which life had changed. Caring for a newborn is really hard and it can be overwhelming. Much of the earliest days, though filled with immense love, gratitude and joy, they were also stressful! But tonight, as I tucked you in, your first night as a 3 year-old, I teared up as I thought about how truly wonderful being your Mama is!

I'm not saying every day is perfect, or that I'm the perfect Mom (far from it!), or that you're perfect. But the life we are living is truly wonderful. You are a wonderful little boy, who is so filled with joy and excitement, and you fill my life with more smiles and happiness than I ever could have imagined. These past 3 weeks, when I have been home with you, and only you, our time together has been magical. My heart melts multiple times each day when you, out of the blue, turn to me and say, "I looooove you, Mama!" I can't help but smile every time you get so excited about something that you jump up and down and flap your arms. (I need to stop worrying that your "flapping" is of concern, and rather, just take comfort in the fact that you are a very, very joyful, happy boy!) I love your "monkey hugs" when you wrap your arms and legs around me so tightly I can practically feel the love oozing out of you.

Ryan, there are so many things about you that make you such a special, wonderful boy. You are kind and caring. You are very sensitive, and when we read books, in which something sad happens to someone or something, you often cry. I remember the first time you cried at the end of "10 Little Lady Bugs" because you were so upset that the last Lady Bug was all alone. All the convincing in the world that she was eventually reunited with her friends could not calm the sadness you experienced on her behalf. You also get tearful when reading books that are sentimental, though not necessarily sad, such as "Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You." You not only show emotion when reading books, but also when interacting with other people. If someone you know is sad, you will quickly give them a hug and say, "Its OK! Its OK!" If you hear a baby crying you will ask, with a concerned look on your face, "Why is that baby sad?" This compassion and sensitivity you have for others is one of the things about you of which I am most proud. I hope you never lose this sensitivity, and never shy away from showing it openly.

You are also a very, very friendly boy. Just tonight, when we took you to Chick-Fil-A, you waved and said "Hi!" to people as we walked by, or to the kids at the table across from us. You quickly made friends with the other little boy in the play area and enjoyed a game of hide-and-seek. When one of the little girls was leaving the play area you gave her a hug and said, "Bye!" I love going places with you because you make people smile. At my recent OB appointments you are a big hit in the waiting room. You wave to people until they notice you and then you say, "Hi!" They smile immediately and say, "Hi" back and you generally engage in some kind of adorable conversation. You politely ask to see the babies who are with their moms. You know not to touch unless invited to touch them.

You're also a great conversationalist. When Dada comes home from work and we are eating dinner you almost always ask, "How was your day today, Dada?" You will sometimes ask, "What did you do?" You listen for the answers and ask appropriate follow-up questions.

You are confident and polite. If you want to ask a grown-up a question or tell them something, even a grown-up you don't know, you politely say, "Excuse me. Excuse me...." and then you ask your question or share your news. You did this at "My Gym" recently when the teacher was explaining that free play time was a good time to go potty or get a drink of water. You raised your hand, said "excuse me" and then politely explained, "Ms. Holly, we can't get a drink of water because you are out of cups." You will even ask strangers questions without hesitation. Again, in the OB's office you recently wanted to know one of the baby's names. You stood in front of the Mom, said, "Excuse me. What is the baby's name?" and then said "Hello Savannah!" to the cute baby girl in the car seat. You make me so proud and so happy on such a regular basis. People can't help but smile when they're around you. That is a gift. And it is one I hope you never stop sharing with the world!

Despite the fact that you talk almost CONSTANTLY you also find a lot of time to play and have fun. Lately you love to play with playdoh and you continue to love trucks, cars, fire engines, rockets, and helicopters. Your imagination has EXPLODED lately. The stories you act out involving cars stuck on mountains, cars that need rescuing because they caught on fire, rockets flying to the moon, or animals playing with their friends are fun to be a part of and a joy to listen to. You like to play with the Ipad (though we limit your time spent doing this!). For many months you especially loved the "Trucks" game in which you can change the tires on the cars with a flat tire. You're also now rather smitten with a few apps we have that involve building and launching rockets. The ease with which you quickly figure out the intricacies of each of these games never ceases to amaze me (though I also know this is normal for your generation of kiddos who is growing up with technology truly at your finger tips). You still absolutely LOVE to play outside. You may be happiest when playing at the playground, riding in your toy car with PopPop, or digging in the dirt with your many trucks. And yet, you love rainbows and playing with your new dollhouse. You affirm and defy gender stereotypes on a daily basis and I love it!

I could go on and on trying to capture the person you are in writing and I will never do you justice. You're amazing in my book, little Bubba! And one day, when you're much older, and you go back and read this letter, I hope that above all what will stand out is how very much I love you and am proud of you. You are a wonderful son. Being your Mama is the greatest privilege of my life!

As we await your little brother's arrival, I can't wait to watch you grow not only as a boy, and a son, but as a brother. You already show such concern and consideration for your baby bro. You ask, "Is Baby Zachary hungry, too?" when you're hungry. You wonder whether he will like the same activities you do. You give my belly hugs and say, "I love you Baby Zachary!" I have confidence you're going to be an amazing big brother. But I also know it will be challenging for you at times. But please, Ryan, do not ever forget how very much Mommy and Daddy love you and always will!

Happy 3rd Birthday Sweet Boy! I love you sooooooooo much!




One Year

2 Years

3 Years

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