Today began with quite the anticipation on our part because we knew Zach would get his first opportunity to breast feed. Zach woke up, opened both steel blue eyes very easily, and looked at Mommy and Daddy for more than a brief second for the first time (see photo above). Having no prior experience on the nursing front, Kimmie decided to have one of the hospital's lactation specialists on hand to help get both her and Zach started on the whole process. True to his amazing ways this week, Zachary took right to it, and was feeding wonderfully in no time, much to Mommy's, Daddy's, and even the nurse's delight. To quote Erin, Zach's nurse today, "he's got the perfect suck for breast feeding!" I must say as a male, and Zach's father, I do take a little pride in that compliment!! Both Erin and the lactation specialist agreed it was one of the most successful first feedings they had been involved in for quite some time, so we were very happy to hear that. All babies need their mother's breast milk for optimal growth and development, and Zach's condition increases that demand.
We were also greeted this morning with Zachary sleeping soundly on his back!! (Marianne + Marty, that's your prayer blanket in his bed!) Dr. Handler had come by to check on him last night after we had left and gave approval for him to be put in any position, as long as he remained flat, so off to his back he went! With his new positioning, he appears much happier, not to mention much less swollen. The swelling in his face has subsided, and his head circumference has not increased since Tuesday. One of the conditions that occurs with 90% of Spina Bifida babes is called Hydrocephalus, or fluid buildup in the brain. This is often remedied through the insertion of a shunt to drain the fluid back into the abdomen of the child. To monitor this, they measure the babies head for the first few weeks after birth to see if there is any swelling or fluid buildup. Thankfully, Zach's head has increased only 1cm, and did so shortly after birth when his butt was in the air. This is very encouraging, and we keep praying for him to maintain his current status every day.
On to the important things in raising a child.... changing diapers. Zach had his first bowel movement in the morning, another big step, and very exciting for us (Yes, we are excited about poop!). Daddy decided to change Zachary's diaper this afternoon while Mommy was pumping. As all of you parents out there know, when a baby's gotta go, there's no stoppin' em. Zach decided that filling his current diaper with the old #2 was not enough, he needed to shower Daddy with some more army green delight throughout the entire changing process, and even throw in some urine for good measure. Since Mommy was pumping, she could do nothing but sit back and laugh uncontrollably until her C-section stitches began to hurt! All told the five minutes of madness claimed three diapers, five baby wipes, and all of Daddy's pride.
After a much needed dinner break we returned to the NICU around 5pm and Kimmie was able to breast feed Zach once more. We figured out that Erin has the magic touch and seems to be the only human capable of transferring Zach from the pillow in our laps to his bed without him screaming and carrying on, so we let her do the honors and put Zach to bed. We made plans for tomorrow, including circumcision at 10am (I can see the collective wince from all the men out there), and a good amount of training for Mommy and Daddy so Zach can hopefully go home in the next few days!! The staff at St. Joseph's NICU has a list of tasks, skills, and procedures that all parents must be checked off on before any baby is allowed to go home. I think it's wonderful and extremely helpful, so tomorrow should be a good day.
During our little dinner break we ran into a pastor and religious counselor at the St. Joseph's chapel at the hospital. We had a short conversation with them and they learned all about our little guy and his fast recovery. They mentioned that they would pray for Zach and were happy to hear about all YOU wonderful souls who have been praying along with us and been so great throughout Zach's short life. Prayer is incredibly powerful, and incredibly comforting, and we thank you all for your prayers and ask that you keep them coming. Thank You to All of You, and God Bless - Brian + Kimmie