The 3 Amigos Go Vogue!

Back in mid-May, Miss Heather and I loaded up the boys in the mini-van and took them to get fancy photos taken at the mall. As you can see, Houston, Gabriel and Zeke wore the Reds baseball caps Daddy bought for them while he and Mommy were in Ohio visiting Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for Mommy’s fetal surgery last July.

The hats are symbolic for our journey over the past year, with the twins surviving TTTS and thriving outside of the womb, Zeke conquering his CCAM woes, the 3 Amigos just bonding and loving each other like brothers should do, and our family finally all together, happy and healthy and under one roof … not to mention the fact that Daddy has big baseball plans for the boys when they’re older! Click the photo below to check out all the cute pro pics.

Zeke (top) & Gabriel ponder, “What has Mommy gotten us into now?”

Zeke is better than new since his lobectomy. Last Saturday was the only semi-bad day he has had since coming home from Brenner’s. Granny noticed that the incision site was a little puffy. Plus, Zeke had a slight fever and was pretty grumpy. But all is well now … the puffiness is almost totally gone and Z-Bird is happy as a clam. Dr. Petty says the slight swelling is normal; it’s just the tissues underneath the skin recovering from the trauma of surgery.

Gabriel left poor Zeke in the dust during his brother’s hospital stay. Gabriel was already the more advanced crawler prior to the surgery. And since Zeke was bed ridden for the better part of a week, and then returned home fatigued, fairly medicated and weighing 7 ounces less than Gabriel (Zeke weighed 17 lbs., 1 oz. on 6/16, and Gabe was 17 lbs., 8 oz. on 6/20), he couldn’t even roll from back to belly the first couple of days he was home.

Zeke’s doing much better now, enjoying tummy time for brief periods and doing some limited crawling, although he gets frustrated much quicker than before. Surely it doesn’t help Zeke’s confidence level that Gabriel has taken off like a wild buck, crawling around the house like nobody’s business and getting into everything he can get his grubby little paws on — including changing the station on our XM Radio. Gabriel is one strong lad! Who knows, our “little hot mess,” as one nurse called Zeke, may decide to forego crawling altogether and go straight to walking. We shall see.

“Thank you, Lord, for our miracle babies (Gabriel on left, Zeke on right) & their loving big brother,” say Mommy & Daddy. 

On Saturday, I took Houston to swim class, while Daddy lifted weights. Well, Houston finally let go of whatever it was that was bothering him about being at the Y (yeah, his third lesson didn’t go so hot). Since Daddy paved the way, I was able to get Houston into the water! He had a blast, making friends, letting Mommy swim him around the deep end, playing on a neat underwater ledge, frolicking in some fountains, having fun with lots of water toys, going under the rope, and even doing the hokey pokey with all the other kids at the end of class.

Then the next day, Houston attended children’s church for the very first time. He was a pretty good boy, although a couple older boys easily hyped him up whenever they so chose. Also, Houston’s utter love of hugging did initially freak out some kids; they soon got over it, once Bull tempered his zest for the gesture. Considering that the new atmosphere is much more stimulating that the church nursery, I’d say our tazzy boy handled himself quite well.

Zeke’s crooked hat perfectly illustrates his goofy and fun-loving personality.

Houston’s allergies seem to have gotten a bit better in recent days. We slather him with snazzy lotions, vitamin E and corn starch for his eczema. For his seasonal allergies, we continue to give him Claritin and “razor-blade flavored” eye drops (what I call them due to his dramatic reaction to the drops) and always run a humidifier in his room when he sleeps. I hope Houston gets over these darn sensitivities soon and is especially healthy for his fun-filled outdoor birthday party this Saturday.

Here are a few funny Houston translations:

  • tett-unh = tortilla
  • pett-ance = pizza
  • bruv-urh = brothers
  • pook = puke
  • in-yare = in there
  • *uck = truck
  • cock = clock
  • piggy = The Muppets
  • cwooz = Blue’s Clues

 Gabriel flashes “the look of judgment” — a standard facial expression that both twins possess.

Note: here’s some proof we really do live at “the zoo.” Because the competition for attention has really been upped since the twin’s arrival on the scene, Stanley has been bringing us “gifts” more and more frequently. These have included both living and dead birds, chipmunks, mice and lizards. His murderous ways hit an all-time high when Zeke and I were away at the hospital when the nutty feline brought in a live bunny and proceeded to torture and kill it under our bed. Granny heard the whole ordeal and lucky Daddy got to clean up the mess. Needless to say, we got handy-man Papa to remove our cat door.

Homeward Bound, Baby!!!

If all looks good with Zeke’s daily chest x-ray from this morning, Zeke and Mommy be heading home soon. Dr. Petty is confident that Z-Bird will be back at Clan Dillingham and reunited with his bros by tomorrow afternoon. Thank the Lord!

Zeke entertains himself with the wires from his disconnected monitors.

Here are a few big things that have occurred since the last blog:

Sunday night

  • Daddy and Gabriel came to visit Zeke and Mommy. The twins had fun fighting over toys as they played in Zeke’s bed. Too cute!
  • I noticed that Zeke had a slight wheeze. Nurse Krista said that putting a suction catheter up each nostril would help clear out his clogged bronchial tubes, since Zeke hadn’t been doing much coughing — the body’s normal way of clearing out these passages to the lungs. Even though she said the brief procedure would not be pleasant (obviously), I opted to have the gunk sucked out and nip this small problem in the bud.

Yesterday

  • I awoke to find that the water suction to Zeke’s chest tube had been turned off — a sure indication that the gathering nastiness in the top of the tube meant the cavity surrounding his lungs was now empty, and not clogged up with goo; this is the ultimate goal of the chest tube and the JP.
  • I put salt in my coffee and lotion, instead of bodywash, in Zeke’s bathwater — quite illustrative of how particularly zany my life has been this past week.
  • Being that I haven’t studied anatomy in many, many years, I made an assisting doc draw me a picture of the of the lungs, chest cavity and bronchial tubes, and explain how they relate to Zeke’s current condition. Although he very hesitantly scribbled a diagram for me (he said he was embarrassed by his lack of artistic skills), it helped me understand. So, thanks for putting yourself out there, doc!
  • Dr. Petty changed the dressing covering Zeke’s chest tube and JP. He said that everything underneath the bandages looked just about perfect.
  • Granny took over hospital duties for a while before heading home, so that I could go see the boys, pack up a few things for the remainder of the hospital stay, and help Gramsey and Papa settle into childcare duties back at the homestead.

Today

  • This morning, Dr. Petty took out Zeke’s chest tube and JP, so he is now 100% free of any and all post-surgical gear. It was horrifying to watch as the docs pulled this long, gunk-covered tube out of my son’s chest cavity, but our little Wolverine only did his trademark tear-free angry cry for a few seconds, and then glared menacingly at Dr. Petty. What a brave boy!
  • Daddy and Uncle Greg came to visit, and drop off the mini-van and an umbrella stroller, so that Mommy will be prepared for tomorrow’s discharge.
  • Zeke has been extremely playful today, but he tires quickly. It’ll be interesting to see how far he is behind Gabriel (who is crawling all over the house and getting into lots of subsequent mischief), as far as physical development goes.

Daddy and Gabriel have fun playing w/ Zeke.

Misc. notes

  • Zeke always flashes a charming grin to all the females who enter his room, while he usually reserves a humorous-looking, but distrusting stare for all the men. Too funny!
  • I am typing this blog from the Ronald McDonald House Family Room, an adult respite for parents and other loved kids at Brenner’s. This is a wonderful place to get away for a few minutes to decompress from the stresses of the hospital room and compare “war stories” with parents of other hospitalized chidren. Not only do they have computers with Internet, but they also offer free coffee and other beverages, homemade and pre-packaged food, comfy furniture and nice music. This room is a true blessing.
  • Other than Granny’s two shifts, I’ve been at Brenner’s since 6 a.m. last Thursday. If I don’t walk through the doors of a hospital or doc office for another 20 years, that would be way too soon for me. Since July 2008, I stayed in the hospital a few nights after my amnio-reduection, a night after my TTTS surgery up in Cincinnati, three nights after my c-section … not to mention countless hours in the NICU after the babies were born, and tons of time at the OB/GYN for pre- and post-natal care, the maternal-fetal specialist for my constant ultrasounds and non-stress tests, the cardiologist for periodic echos on the twins in utero, the pediatrician for five RSV shots for Gabriel and Zeke and a couple sickness-related appointments for Houston, the after-hours clinic for Bull’s lip injury, etc. Sigh. I hope and pray we have a long, long break after this CCAM craziness is over and done with.
  • Happy birthday to Gabriel and Zeke, who are 8 months old today!

Zeke the Miniature X-Man!

Daddy says Zeke is more like Wolverine of Marvel Comics’ X-Men. Wolverine is a mutant, whose primary mutation is an accelerated healing process that regenerates damaged or destroyed areas of his body far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human. This power facilitated the artificial improvements he was subjected to under the government’s Weapon X program, in which Wolverine’s skeleton was reinforced with a nearly-indestructible metal alloy called adamantium and his hands were implanted with retractible claws.

Well, Zeke might not be a mutant with super-human abilities, but here are some examples of his stellar progress and inspirational courage:

  •  6:30 a.m. — I woke up to find a little blood on Zeke’s face and sheets. He had had small scabs on each side of his nose from the tape used to adhere all the breathing gear to his face during the surgery; apparently, he had simply scratched at one of these boo boos during his sleep.
  • 7 a.m. — The tubing (only used for intermittent antibiotics) hooked to Zeke’s IV came out during his morning boob fix. Nurse Faith decided to leave it out for the time being.
  • 8:30 a.m. — According to his early morning x-ray, there is a tiny bit of air between Zeke’s lungs and the inner incision area — a minor hiccup, says the doc. The theory is that the slow-leaking chest tube caused the dressing to loosen, thus, Zeke was taking in air when he breathed. A fresh dressing should fix the hiccup.
  • 9:15 a.m. — Zeke got his finger pricked for his daily blood work and didn’t shed a tear. Instead, he flashed the nurse a big grin, and played with the new and fun bandaging on his finger. “It’s smiles like his that will get me through today,” she said, noting that this was her first day taking blood in the pediatric unit, and she was dreading the sadness she would inevitably cause for many kids.
  • 10:15 a.m. — I was startled out of a sound nap by Zeke screaming, while two docs hovered over his bed. Freaked out initially, the docs quickly explained they were simply changing Zeke’s dressing. Whew! The doc commented that Zeke didn’t even whimper when he removed the old bandages, and the angst I saw was just some tear-free crying caused by his impatience with the new dressing.
  • 10:45 a.m. — While breastfeeding, I felt something wet on my hand. When I looked down, I saw a puddle of blood on the floor. I got Zeke back in his bed as gingerly but quickly as possibly, and frantically buzzed the nurse. I thought something had gone horribly wrong with the incision and/or chest tube. Luckily, Zeke’s IV had simply come loose. So I’d already had two near heart attacks today, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Geez!
  • 2:30 p.m. — Nurse Faith helped me give Zeke his second sponge bath. Thankfully, that rank hand stinks no more, and we were able to remove most of the adhesive remnants from his little post-surgery body.
  • 4:45 p.m. — Zeke ate his first pureed solids: yummy bananas, and chicken and gravy. Mmmm.

Other Wolverine-related notables:

  • Zeke’s temperature and blood pressure have been perfect all day.
  • Since Zeke’s IV mishap, he has only been hooked up to a chest tube and a JP drain. I was adamant about Zeke not getting a fourth IV inserted into his already worn and tired body, since the only thing he had been getting via IV as of late antibiotics, which I know come in liquid form. Fortunately, the doc agreed and Zeke is now IV-free.
  • I half-jokingly told Faith I wanted to throw the chair (i.e., torture device) provided to me for breastfeeding out the window. So, being the awesome nurse that she is, Faith helped get the chest tubing arranged so that I now breastfeed Zeke on the sofa/adult bed.
  • And then, Faith wheeled a “hot” recliner from the PICU. Shhhh, these chairs aren’t supposed to be in the regular pediatric rooms, so don’t tell.
  • Everyone at Brenner’s has been extraordinary to my son and me. God willing, you won’t have to go to a children’s hospital to have your kid or a young loved one treated for a serious condition, disease, injury or illness. But know that Wake Forest Univery Baptist Medical Center is a wonderful facility, full of kind and talented people.